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Bozeman, Montana - Christine Finkbeiner had her footprint measured - and found it took up almost four city blocks.
"That's about average for Americans," the Belgrade High sophomore reports. She is talking about her ecological footprint, which is the amount of land that must be set aside to keep her personally supplied with food, water, energy, Britney Spears CDs and other consumables.
Finkbeiner joined Aria Stewart, a junior at Bozeman High, Jeff Mathers, a junior from C.M. Russell High in Great Falls, and Meriah Cory, a sophomore homeschooler from Bozeman, for the second expedition of Base Camp Earth, held at Montana State University. Ivy Merriot, a high-school teacher from Bozeman, assisted in their four-day intensive investigation of ecological footprints.
To explore the contemporary science issue, the five took field trips, discussed ecological footprints with scientists, and simulated living on their own island. Their explorations were recorded by the Base Camp Earth staff, and will appear as a Web resource on ecological footprints at . A preliminary report of their January expedition is now available at the Web site, reports John Usher, expedition manager.
What discoveries did they make? Finkbeiner: "Talking with the scientists made me see that this is a real problem that we need to solve." She was surprised "that I have the same size footprint as the average American. I honestly thought that I was a more self-sufficient person."
Meriah Cory: "If all of us on the earth used the exact same amount of land it would be one-and-a-half hectares, but most Americans take up about 5.4 hectares. To me that is not surprising, but absolutely amazing that we are such pigs."
Aria Stewart summarized at expedition end: "It has already made me think about my consumption and waste production. Every time I buy or eat something, I first think about the ecological impact that the item has on the world. I've started to recycle and re-use more materials in an effort to decrease my footprint size. However, I think the greatest thing I can do to make a difference is to TELL OTHER PEOPLE! The more people who know about Ecological Footprints, the better chance it will have of impacting the world."
Cory, Finkbeiner and Stewart were selected for the Base Camp Earth program after they joined the educational outfit at its Web site. Students and teachers interested in being eligible for further expeditions can join Base Camp Earth via the Internet at:
,or contact John Usher at 406-994-7794, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.