Core Concepts Unit 1 Humanity's Ecological Footprint

Essential Question

How has human impact on ecosystems changed over time through the early stages of civilization development to today’s industrialized and growing societies?

The Big Idea

Over the course of time, humanity’s impact on the earth has grown from small regional effects to large-scale disruptions. At present, there are very significant challenges we face as a global civilization: climate change, species extinction, deforestation, resource depletion, and widespread economic inequality. By 2050, Earth will be host to between 9 and 10 billion humans. With a population of this size and with growing per capita resource use, humanity has an enormous and increasing impact on the ecological systems on which it depends. This unit explores the concept of ecological footprint: a measure of human resource use and pollution, compared with the Earth’s capacity to regenerate, called biocapacity. When we use ecological footprints to compare different modes of living, it can point the way towards a sustainable society.

Topics Covered:

  • The Ecological Footprint Concept 
  • Emergence of Modern Humans and the Development of Agriculture 
  • Population Growth and Carrying Capacity 
  • The Industrial Revolution 
  • Variations in Ecological Footprint 
  • Climate Change and its Causes 
  • Climate Change Effects 
  • Carbon Footprints

This course is approved for 1.5 GBCI CE Hours for LEED Credential Maintenance. 

Please note: This course is part of the 4.5 hour course Core Concepts in Sustainability (aka the Professional Certificate).