A.225.2

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How Big is Your Carbon Footprint?

One of the cornerstone concepts in environmental science is global warming and climate change. Throughout the term, you will learn about numerous ways in which human behaviors can modify ecosystems. For this Assignment, you will do the following:

  • Assess your initial carbon footprint using the following website and report the results:

EPA. (n.d.). Household carbon footprint calculator.
https://www3.epa.gov/carbon-footprint-calculator

2. Track a typical day in your life, and in a paragraph, record any behaviors that may have an impact on the environment and your carbon footprint. Describe any regular activities that you engage in including:

  • How do you get to work? If you drive long distances, how is your gas mileage?
  • How do you prepare meals? Do you eat in or take out? How much food do you throw out?
  • Do you leave lights or other electronics on at home when you are not there?
  • How often and how much water do you use (i.e., how long are your showers, do you have any leaky faucets, do you leave the water on when you brush your teeth)?
  • Do you recycle repurpose or reuse items?
  • What kind of heat do you use to heat your house? Do you use air conditioning? etc.

3. After you have identified ways in which you could have an impact on your environment, select one activity that you could change to reduce this impact. Shrink That Footprint (http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/) lists many actions you can take — some as minor as getting coffee without a disposable cup every day.

Be sure to choose an action that is realistically possible. For example, buying a new home might save you a great deal of money, but is not something that can be completed in 9 weeks.

4. Design a clear, testable hypothesis using the one behavior selected that you will change. This hypothesis will be used to describe the influence your change will have on your carbon footprint. A hypothesis is a specific statement of “if…then.”

For assistance in designing a testable hypothesis, review the following video or visit the Science Center for additional resources:

http://www.screencast.com/t/VgOfderB8

5. Include a paragraph describing how you will test your hypothesis. What are your methods? Clearly outline each of the steps you will take to test your hypothesis.

For example: If I decide to unplug my computer every night, then I will save a certain amount of money, energy, and carbon over the course of 2 months.

I will prove this by: Calculating my carbon footprint leaving my computer on when I’m asleep. Then I will calculate and compare my carbon footprint after I start using a power strip I can turn off every night, including my computer, the monitor, and my printer. If my hypothesis is correct, my carbon footprint in the second case will be much less than it is for the first!

I will measure the carbon output from the devices by calculating how much electricity is drained by plugged-in sources (using the footprint calculator and the estimates on Carbon Rally). Then, I will faithfully record how many nights, and for how many hours, I remember to do this, as well as the expenditure for a new power strip (if it turns out I don’t have one in a closet somewhere).

So, come up with a hypothesis, a working change to make in your lifestyle, and a way to measure that change. You will also be observing the changes in your lifestyle (as well as money spent and carbon saved) over the next 9 weeks.

Those observations will be explained in greater detail in Weeks 3, 5, and 7.

Basic Writing Expectations:

  1. Your report should be approximately 500 words.
  2. Include a title page, double space your paper, and use a font size of 10 or 12.
  3. Include a highly developed viewpoint/thesis, purpose, and exceptional content.
  4. Demonstrate superior organization — use logic.
  5. Make certain that your paper is free of grammar and spelling errors.
  6. Avoid plagiarism.
  7. Use the APA style for all citations.
  8. Always include an introduction and conclusion.
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