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Sky's the limit?

January 2007

What is the worry over carbon footprints?

Sky's the limit?

Our carbon footprints are catching the attention of the media and politicians, but what are they exactly and why the worry?

As average incomes rise, more and more people in Britain can afford to take air flights. We are also consuming growing amounts of food and goods that are flown or shipped here from far-away places.

The same is happening in other countries, not just in MEDCs but emerging economies like China and India also. As a result of these changes in consumer behaviour, transport is now the fastest growing source of emissions of carbon dioxide – the gas that is most responsible for climate change.

So are even greater emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) now inevitable year-on-year? This article examines how “carbon footprints” are measured and assesses strategies that might be used to reduce them.


This resource will have particular appeal for KS3, GCSE and A-level candidates who are studying sustainability, population and resources or economic development. Each item deals with some of the issues and impacts surrounding energy-intensive transportation of people and goods around the world. Additionally, the article touches on some of the important new political debates concerning carbon rationing.

Parts of this resource can be easily adapted by teachers to support the teaching of geography at KS3: Can the earth cope? Ecosystems, population and resources

In the Members' Area:

  • What is a “carbon footprint”?
  • How big is your carbon footprint?
  • Is it OK to keep flying?
  • What are “food miles” and why do they matter?
  • What can we do to reduce our carbon footprints?
  • KS3/4 suggestions for teachers

Sign in to read the full article. If you are not already a member you can join us as a School Member or Young Geographer and access our vast library of educational articles.


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