Creative Minds Resource
Each year we have a new theme. This year’s theme is:
Human Footprint on Earth: Impacts & Solutions
According to the National Geographic, “Humans have influenced 83% of the Earth’s surface.” Who likes orange juice? “Over your lifetime, 12 000 oranges will travel 23 million miles to reach you. This is all part of your Human Footprint.”
When planning your submission(s), try to thinks about the following keywords and questions related to the theme. Please note that the questions and keywords above are intended to help you to think on the theme. However, they shouldn’t limit your thoughts as the theme can mean a lot more than those questions and keywords. Therefore, when composing your work, feel free to be creative. Just remember you want to present your ideas in a way that will inspire the reader to think and become aware of the importance of the theme.
Keywords & Key concepts:
• Human footprint
– Every human activity demands natural resources and produces waste. The measure of that impact on the environment is called out ecological footprint
• Carbon footprint
– The total sets of greenhouse gas emissions caused by an organization, event, product, or person.
• Conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems
– Biodiversity: the variety or richness of different kinds of living organisms in a specific place or on a global scale
– Ecosystem: Includes all of the living things in a given area and the way they interact with each other, as well as their non-living environment (water, earth, sun)
• Areas of human impact, i.e. the Great Pacific Garbage Patch
– The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a collection of garbage (plastics, chemical sludge) in the North Pacific Ocean that spans from the West Coast of North America to Japan.
Some questions to focus on
• What does the human footprint mean to you?
– Is it only the reduction of our carbon footprint?
– Should we include other things like the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems?
• Does our human footprint extend to the oceans?
– The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is an example.
– Think of the case of Nomura jellyfish and their population explosion in the billions when there is a change in the temperature or salinity of the oceans.
– We kill about 100 000 sharks a year. What would our oceans look like without them?
• Human activities are polluting nature and having a negative impact on the quality of life around the world.
– Who do you think is most affected by these negative impacts? (Think of what a drought means to California versus what it means to Ethiopia).
• How do different cultures produce different kinds and sizes of human footprints?
– Think of the differences in diet, culture, income, access, etc.
• Do you think business and industrial activities have a greater impact than the sheer number of human beings on our planet?
– How much of an impact do you think human activity had on climate change?
– How do we balance economic interests with environmental protection?
– How do we address environmental protection and a lessening of our footprint between rich nations and poorer nations?
• Do we have a responsibility to minimize our effects on and preserve the environment?
– Is it an ethical/moral reason?
– Do you think politicians — as community leaders and themselves humans — have a responsibility to champion the environmental in all policies?
• Should we even care about our impact? What responsibility do we have to future generations to preserve the Earth?
• What can we do to reduce our human footprint locally, nationally, and globally?
– How do we mobilize people to take responsibility for reducing their footprint?
– Think of the declining populations of Monarch Butterflies and their extraordinary migration. How would you go about convincing your neighbourhood to plant milkweed and help them out?
• What can the City of Toronto and its suburbs do to minimize their footprint?
• What can schools and students do?
• The David Suzuki Foundation’s website has a list of lifestyle changes that we can use to reduce our carbon footprint.
– Which seem the most realistic to you?
– Which do you think will be most effective?
• What successes have you heard of in the news of reducing our human footprint?
– Is there a specific case study you would like to highlight?
– What have you yourself done to reduce your footprint?
Some key people:
• David Suzuki
– “The Nature of Things” focuses on environmental issues caused by human activities
• Rachel Carson
– Regarded as the founder of the modern environmental movement
– “The Silent Spring” (1962): describes the devastating effects of pesticides
• Julia Hill
– Lived for 2 years in an ancient Redwood in California to prevent it from being cut down
• Chico Mendes
– Known for his efforts to save Brazil’s rain forests from logging and ranching activity
• Wangari Maatahai
– Founded the Green Belt Movement in Kenya
– Planted 30 million trees and provided jobs while preventing soil erosion and securing firewood
• Gaylord Nelson
– American politician: Wilderness Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act
– Founder of Earth Day
– Model for politicians?