Foothill College Carbon Footprint History Essay


Answer this Big Question: How did carbon help me get here?
Please submit a 4-5 page Autobiography that links your personal history to your carbon footprint and the general trajectory of it (usually rapidly expanding). That is: Write a brief autobiography on how you ended up at UCSD that links your personal history to your direct and indirect energy consumption.

You may think of your paper as the answer to this BQ:

How did carbon help me get here?
The goal of the assignment is, as with the course as a whole, to link our individual choices about how we live our lives to recent historical developments shaping our use of natural resources. How have we become accustomed to a lifestyle and work that is heavily dependent on the use of non-renewable resources and the production of heat-trapping / greenhouse gasses (GHGs)? That is, the assignment asks you to consider your involvement in the climate crisis. An important secondary goal is for me to learn more about you.
There is no right or wrong way to answer this open-ended Big Question.
Open-ended BQs, which are at the center of this course, may seem intimidating to those accustomed to only answering true/false, yes/no questions. So, I suggest you break up the question and first answer: What were the most important reasons you ended up at UCSD and studying what you are studying? Then, be creative. Think of all the ways energy consumption has impacted your and your family’s lives and helped land you at UCSD: the internet, war, global trade, inexpensive airlines, energy-intensive and globalized food production, meat- or plant-based diet, automobility, public transportation, indoor lighting, inexpensive products shipped from China… the possibilities are endless.
The goal of the assignment is to connect your very individual story with the massive expansion in energy and resource use in recent decades. If you get stuck, check out one of the many sites helping people calculate their carbon footprints such as this one: Or, for additional ideas, simply google “how do I contribute to Green House Gas (GHG) emissions?” and find sites such as this one: Then link both your interests and how you physically ended up at UCSD to energy/resource consumption.
How was it necessary for you to consume all this energy these resources to get to where you are now?
I read these essays very carefully as a way to better know the backgrounds and interests of the students in the class. As a way for me to get to know you, please be sure to include general biographical information and the highlights of your intellectual development. As always, if you have questions or encounter difficulties, please contact me.

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