The invoice activity

This is meant as an in-class activity for day one in the Outdoor Calendar series of lesson plans. If you would like something a bit… more unusual for your classes, consider using the comparison activity instead.

Here’s how the activity works. After talking about putting a price tag on nature, the students are informed that we will, unfortunately, have to destroy a local ecosystem. The town I live and work in has a forest, so I use that as an example. Some reasons for the destruction can be mining, real estate development, solar parks, a spaceport. Pass out the worksheet.

Name the ecosystem to be destroyed. It can either be something the teacher determines, or there can be a moment of discussion about what local ‘pieces of nature’ could be destroyed. (Maybe it was already discussed.) Write the name of the location on the worksheet where it says ‘location.’

Then, brainstorm together the things we will miss about the piece of nature when it is gone. Write those in the left hand column of the table.

After that, we have to decide what is the next-best alternative? That is to say, what will have to do instead to get the same benefit. To replace hiking we might need a bus ticket to another hiking region. To replace jogging we might need a membership to a gym. Write the best alternative in the column under substitute.

The class discusses: What does a membership to the gym cost? What is the nearest hiking region that is similar… what will it cost to go there? How often do we need to go? What’s the total cost? Write the costs in the column under price.

Finally, total all the costs. This is the amount that the billionaires who destroy the forest will be required to pay each local — annually for ten years (or whatever you decide) — in return for destroying the ecosystem in question.

Some followup questions: Does this amount seem fair? Would you still miss the ecosystem? Would you use the money the way you are ‘supposed’ to? (How often would you go to the alternative forest?)

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