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This activity has been extensively reviewed for inclusion in the Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network's collection of educational resources. Energy issues are an important factor in the functioning of our economy and infrastructure. In this activity, undergraduate students learn to use satellite and aerial imagery, maps, graphs, spreadsheets, descriptive information, and statistics to compare energy and oil consumption rates between states in the United States and among various countries. This exercise needs to be performed in a computer laboratory where students can work individually or in pairs.
The activity is best suited for a course that studies global concerns, and which provides students with understanding of interrelationships between components of the Earth system, including a perspective on the role of human activity in bringing about global change, and the effects of these changes on human society. Prior to this activity, students should be provided with a basic understanding of what energy is and how it is quantified. This exercise was originally used in an undergraduate course at Stony Brook University - GEO 311: Geoscience and Global Concerns. The Student User Guide is designed to provide information on using Google Earth to educators and students. In GEO 311: Geoscience and Global Concerns, we engaged the students periodically in informal discussion during the exercise, and had them hand it in at the end of the session for grading. Undergraduate students typically find Google Earth intuitive and easy to use concerning navigation and viewing of mapped data. If the students have not had significant previous experience with spreadsheets in their coursework, it is likely that a significant portion of them will need help using Excel to perform calculations and construct graphs. Time needed for this exercise may vary depending upon the amount of previous experience students have had using Google Earth and the amount of time devoted to informal discussion during the exercise. It is best to associate the exercise with some discussion in order to stimulate ideas among the students about current energy issues and some of the geological, technological, economic, and political challenges concerning developing solutions. For advanced courses or independent study projects, this exercise can be extended to consider changes in consumption patterns of fossil fuels over time. Assessment for this exercise can consist of grading the answers that students hand in on their instruction sheets. To be greener, many people prefer to use public transportation, ride their bikes, or just walk when they need to go somewhere.
Bicycles are an even greener choice than public transportation, since they are entirely human-powered and produce no pollutants.
Another important part of green living is choosing organic agriculture instead of conventional means. Organic produce is becoming more and more popular, and you can find it in many different grocery stores.


While most people who are trying to live a greener lifestyle are not giving up their electrical appliances, there are ways to still be more sustainable around the house.
We must take action, individually first, then by spreading the word to our neighbors, friends, government officials, and leaders. Therefore, students need to understand issues connected with increasing consumption of energy and differences in consumption rates between geographic regions. They also use this information to explain these differences, as well as differences in categories of consumption, such as domestic, transportation, industrial, and commercial use. They should also have a basic understanding of how oil supplies are quantified, and how oil and energy serve the needs of human society in terms of domestic, commercial, transportation, and industrial functions. The Word version of the document can easily be modified in order to customize the activity for varied class venues, or to adjust its content to conform to changing conditions related to economics and oil supply, production, and consumption.
They should be asked to complete the exercise according to the instructions on the handout by writing their answers in the space provided underneath each question.
They may initially need some help learning how expand and collapse listing of data in the Places pane. Prisms emphasize states where per capita consumption rates are highest, but states with larger areas become more prominent than ones with smaller areas. The techniques for accomplishing this should be demonstrated from the instructor station, using a projector. Typically, 80 minutes should be sufficient for completion, but the exercise can be used effectively even if it is apportioned into multiple class sessions.
A good source of data, in spreadsheet format, is available from the BP Statistical Review of World Energy. For some of the questions, students are asked for their opinions, therefore grading it can be quite subjective. A green lifestyle is one that involves causing the minimum amount of impact on the environment.
While buses and trains still use energy, they require much less per person, since a single bus or train can carry dozens or even hundreds of people.
Of course, transporting large, heavy loads is difficult with a bike, but commuting to and from work can be surprisingly easy.
Organic farming involves growing produce without the use of artificial pesticides or herbicides that can cause environmental damage.
At one point, people had to go to specialty stores or natural food stores to find organic food, but it can now be purchased almost anywhere. For example, by choosing energy-efficient appliances that have received the Energy Star rating from the government, you can make sure that your appliances use the least amount of energy necessary to run.


Instead of just tossing everything into the garbage can when you are done, sort out the material that can be recycled. In this exercise, undergraduate students use Google Earth and information from several web sites to investigate total and per capita rates of oil and total energy consumption in various parts of the world. They are also asked for opinions regarding what measures countries should take toward reducing oil consumption.
The instructor should have enough prior knowledge of Google Earth to be able to troubleshoot common problems related to errors that students may make. Both the Word and pdf versions of the handout contain links to the data the the students need in order to perform the activity, therefore they could be made available electronically for use along with the paper copies in order to make data access convenient for the students. Some people find saving Google Earth data confusing, however that skill is not needed for this exercise. Students have an opportunity to critique the use of prisms to represent quantities on maps in question 3d. With data in the historical data spreadsheet, students can graph and map changes in reserves, production, and consumption that have occurred in the past among the world's countries. The degree and manner of students' participation in accompanying discussions can also reveal what they have learned from the activity.
For example, instead of relying upon coal or other fossil fuels for energy, the greener choice is to use renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar power. Instead, organic farmers use less damaging techniques to grow food without hurting the environment.
Try to choose products that use a minimum of packaging so that you do not produce as much waste. The students should know how to use the Fly To tab in the Search pane, how to zoom in and out, and how to pan the view.
Students should be made aware of online resources that provide information on using Google Earth. The operating system should be configured to recognize kmz files, so that the browser offers to open them in Google Earth. Ideally, there should be an instructor station connected to a projector so that guidance can be provided to the class as a group. In addition to the primary instructor, a teaching assistant should be available to help students troubleshoot problems while the instructor is engaged at the instructor station.



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