IB Global Resource Consumption

Study and revision resources

Ecological Footprints

Using the footprintnetwork.org webpage:

  1. Describe what the Ecological footprint measures.
  2. What unit of measurement does the ecological footprint use?
  3. Explain what ecological deficits and ecological reserves are.
  4. What is the ecological footprint of the world (how many planets do we need)?
  5. What is overshoot day and how has it been changing over recent decades?
  6. Using this map describe the global pattern of ecological deficit and reserve.
  7. Change the map to show total ecological footprint, describe and explain which countries have the highest total ecological footprint.
  8. Change the map again to show Ecological footprint per person, describe and explain the main changes when the ecological footprint is calculated per capita.
  9. Using this page, select 3 countries (include Spain) to graph the ecological footprint over time, screenshot or download the graph. Compare the 3 countries you have chosen and try and explain the patterns shown/changes that have happened.
  10. Will technological advances reduce our ecological footprints or do we need to change our habits? Explain your answer.
  11. Use the link in Fig 1.2 to calculate your own ecological footprint. Screenshot the results and add to your notes.
  12. Suggest ways in which you could reduce your ecological footprint.

Virtual Water Flows


  1. Using the webpage in fig 1.3:
  2. Explain what virtual water is.
  3. What are the 2 main Industrial sectors that contribute to virtual water.
  4. Describe and explain the amount of virtual water included in 1 kilo of beef.
  5. Why do meat products generally contain more virtual water than fruit or vegetables?
Fig 1.3: The Water We Eat

Virtual Water Flows Europe


  1. Describe the pattern of virtual water trade shown.
  2. Suggest reasons for the patterns - what type of products are likely to be contributing?

Virtual Water South America


  1. Compare and contrast the imports and exports of virtual water from Latin America



  1. Produce a report/magazine that covers the syllabus requirement.
  2. Hydrocarbons section you should include:
  3. Don't just copy and paste the information. Use diagrams/images/videos to enhance your report and make sure you explain what they show/why they are relevant.

Global Trends in Land/Food


  1. Read p.478
  2. Describe the changing importance of fish and meat in global diets.
  3. Explain why this is putting more pressure on global food supplies and causing food shortages.
  4. Use this link to describe what 'land grabbing' is and why it is happening.
  5. Research and explain the 3 main ways of increasing food production mentioned on p.478.
Fig 1.3:
Fig 1.3:

Water Food & Energy Nexus


  1. Open the pdf in fig 1.6:
  2. Describe the links between water,food and energy
  3. Make Case Study notes about the water/energy link in Vietnam and the issues they face (page 2)
  4. Make Case Study notes about the relationship of groundwater pumping, energy and food in China, India and Japan (page 5).
  5. Take a screenshot of Fig.2 on page 9, add labels explaining the raltionship and conflict between the goals and interests of a place and the natural resources available.
  6. Using pages 14/15, explain the importance of stakeholder dialogue in managing the nexus.
Fig 1.6: Water Food Energy Nexus

Disposal, recycling and trade in consumer items & waste


  1. Read the webpage in Fig 1.7 (if you cant scroll, click here to go to the webpage itself) above and answer the following questions:
  2. Click on "The Geography" tab and study the diagram ashowing the impotrtand export flows of plastic scrap. Describe the pattern of imports and exports of plastic waste shown.
  3. Suggest reasons for the pattern shown.
  4. What % of plastic waste went to China in 2015?
  5. How much has recycling of plastic waste in Europe increased between 2005 & 2015.
  6. Why does so much plastic waste get shipped to developing countries from the more developed ones?
  7. Why does illegal exporting of plastic waste occur & why is it difficult to stop it?
  8. Which region is the worlds biggest exporter of waste?
  9. Describe the environmental impacts of plastic waste in developing countries.
Fig 1.7: Trade in Plastic
Fig 1.9: Trade in Plastic

Disposing of e-waste

  1. Briefly describe the location of Guiyu.
  2. How many people make a living recycling e-waste here?
  3. Describe the damage to the water system that is being caused?
  4. What materials are the workers trying to retrieve from burning electrical wire?
  5. Describe the environmental impact of burning the wires.
  6. Describe the human impacts of the recycling.

The Circular Economy

Fig 2.1: The story of electronics
Fig 2.2: The circular economy
Fig 2.3: Ellen MacArthur


  1. Describe what is meant by a linear economy (take – make – dispose). Give examples.
  2. Describe what is meant by a circular economy (design – make – reprocess – re-use). Give examples.
  3. What are the benefits to:
    • consumers
    • businesses
    • the environment
  4. Use the webpage below to make notes about examples of the way the circular economy is being introduced already (the shift is already in motion section).
Fig 2.5: Circular Design

UN Sustainable Development Goals

UN Sustainable Development Goals
Fig 2.4: UN Sustainable Goals


  1. Make notes about Goals 7, 12, 13,14 and 15.
  2. What are the targets?
  3. Get examples of how they are being met?

Malthusian & Neo-Malthusian Arguments

Thomas Malthus

Malthus argued that population growth would outstrip the rate at which humans could increase food production. This would eventually lead to situations in which food resources became scarce and ultimately lead to an event that would reduce the population level - a war (over resources), disease or a famine. He called these population reductions 'checks'.
The main limitations of his theory are based on his assumption that the main way to increase food supplies was through farming more land. This has proved to be unfounded as technology and machinery have vastly increased the yields of food that we can produce from a given area of land. Developmnents such as the green revolution have vastly increased global food production.


Club of Rome - these argue that we cant keep increasing the food supply and that the green revolution is unlikely to be repeated.
In fact in many places soil degradation and increasing freshwater scarcity are going to make increasing the food supply much more difficult.


  1. CASE STUDY: Easter Island - overpopulation?
  2. Attenbrough Easter Island & population decline video.
  3. Easter Island text resources:
  4. Easter Island page 1
  5. Easter Isalnd page 2
  6. Homework: Explain how & why Easter Island can be used to exemplify the theory of Malthus.


Boserup - these argue that we will find ways to increase food production to meet the needs of increasing populations. That scarcity will drive inovation and new technologies to allow continued population growth.
Genetic modification of crops, laboratry grown meat products etc.


  1. Research and find examples of ways in which technology is solving world resource issues. Focus on food and water, but you can also include energy.
  2. Include a description of the green revolution and how it increased food supplies
Fig 2.1: The story of electronics
Content for Accordion Panel 4
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