There are dozens of carbon footprint calculators and tools like them that purport to be able to quantify the environmental impact of households (or individuals) with minimal input from the user. Some even claim to educate or guide users on how best to reduce the negative environmental footprint of their lifestyle. Your will select 3 carbon footprint calculator tools. Each person in the group will have 3 people in their social network complete each of the calculator tools as accurately as possible. Record and compare the results of each calculator for each person. Are the footprint results for an individual consistent across calculators? What might explain any discrepancies? Assess the strengths and weaknesses of each tool in terms of:
• The user interface: how long does it take to complete, how much burden is on the user to provide detailed data?
• The individualization of the calculators and the results: does the data seem to be derived based on national averages—is there a better way? Are results useful and compelling? Does the data used capture all aspects of an individual’s life that have a negative/positive environmental impact?
• Accuracy of the data collected/used by the tool in calculating impact: what data sources are used? Is the tool thorough enough? Too thorough?
Discuss any areas/aspects of the lives of participants that are missing from the tools—do they collect information relevant to your social network? Is it clear what the best course of action is for users who want to reduce their impact? Reflect on previous academic research on the impact of this type of information on the likelihood that people will change their lifestyles. In addition to assessing the results you gather, to address the other questions we encourage you to gather information as much information as possible by browsing company websites, calling company numbers or investigating popular news reviews.
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