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Living Within Limits


High School Education Program on Population and Consumption

Living Within Limits seeks to increase students' awareness of population and consumption as environmental issues and inspire them to consider their personal and lifestyle choices that influence the environment and quality of our lives. Designed by AGO and the Columbia Group of the Sierra Club, this 50-90 minute program includes viewing a short video (6 minutes) and participating in hands-on activities. We have designed the program to be interactive for the students, with very little lecture time. Activities include:

Pop Quiz: We start out each presentation with a "pop" quiz, asking such questions as "how many people live on earth today?", and "how many people live here in Oregon?"

World Population Video: We then watch a very engaging 6 minute ZPG (Zero Population Growth) video showing the growth in human population from 1 A.D. to about 2030. Students share their observations of increases and decreases over time and events that contributed to them.

Earthday Cake: After the discussion, we either divide a cake or a bag of candies, by percentage of the earth's "wealth" used by each area. This makes a big impression on the students when they see their classmates representing North America getting 56% of the cake or candies. A discussion of ecological footprints, resource distribution and lifestyle choices follows.

During our visit we also cover the  I (impact) = P (population) x A (affluence) x T (technology) formula, and ecological footprint.  If we have enough time, we give a presentation detailing the impact of human population on major environmental problems.

Where Do You Stand?: We typically end the presentation with the "Population and Consumption - Where do you stand?" exercise. The students are read a statement, and are asked to move to one side of the room, or the other, depending if they agree or disagree with the statement - we stress that there are no right answers and to respect each others opinions. The students are asked to discuss why they agree or disagree. Sample statements include:

  • Population growth is inevitable.
  • I believe that things will be better in fifty years than they are now.
  • Americans should use fewer of the world's resources so that resources are more equitably distributed.

Follow Up: After the program, teachers are given materials for two follow-up activities.

Interested in Having a Program at Your School?

If you would like to schedule a program at your school, please contact the Columbia Group of the Sierra Club at (503) 238-0442.

Resource Library

As part of our efforts to educate and inspire youth regarding population and consumption issues, Alternatives to Growth Oregon has a resource library of teaching materials available for loan to educators in Oregon. The resource library has been donated to the Columbia Group of the Sierra Club and the Environmental Education Association of Oregon. If you would like to borrow something, please contact the Columbia Group of the Sierra Club at (503) 238-0442 or the Environmental Education Association of Oregon.

Videos
World Population (
more info)
Affluenza (
more info)
Escape from Affluenza (
more info)
More Fun, Less Stuff (
more info)
Rethinking the American Dream (
more info)

Curriculum
Facing the Future Curriculum Guide (
more info)
Earth Matters: Studies for Our Global Future (
more info)

Activity Guides
Multiplying People, Dividing Resources:Global Math Activities (
more info)
A World of Six Billion: Wall Chart and Activity Guide (
more info)

Student Workbooks
Counting on People: Elementary Population and Environmental Activities (
more info)

More Ideas

Several organizations provide excellent teaching resources on population and consumption.

Facing the Future
Facing the Future is a non-profit organization that provides teacher trainings and resource materials to educators. Their curriculum is excellent and highly recommended. Their website is chock full of information on population and consumption education, and global studies.

Population Connection
Population Connection (formerly Zero Population Growth) provides a variety of teaching materials, trainings, and support to educators.



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Governor Kulongoski
Tell Governor Kulongoski to cut growth subsidies, not education or social services!
Brookings Report Validates AGO!
Brookings Report Validates AGO!
Toolkit for Growth Activists
Take Charge! See the Toolkit for Growth Activists.

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