Climate Crisis Algebra: Graphing Global Petroleum Consumption

Students all over my school are striking for climate action and I’m not sure what to do. I definitely support their actions, but I also think that learning Algebra is critical to understanding our climate crisis.

I created a lesson on changes in the rate of global petroleum consumption over time as a way to introduce them to the wonders of the online graphing software Desmos (and as a way to educate them on our consumption rates.)

Global Petroleum Consumption Rate (in Millions of Gallons per Day) Over Time

I got all of the data online from the U.S. Energy Information Administration website here.

The green dots are the data. The green line is a linear regression (using a line to model the data.) The blue line is an exponential regression (using an exponential curve to model the data.) There are quite a few great questions this graph can generate about the data and the lines that potentially model our future behavior.

The lesson worksheet is here:

And here’s a link to the completed Desmos graph.

I’m still not sure whether I’ll run this lesson today (when many of my students may be striking) or next week when I’m guaranteed a full captive audience. The good/bad news is that the climate crisis is not going to be a quick fix, so I’ll have many future opportunities for this education.


Visit Osborne the Printer at the Tunbridge World’s Fair, September 12-15, 2019 in Tunbridge, VT

One of my favorite Fall traditions is to work as Osborne the Printer at the Tunbridge World’s Fair. I’ve been attending the fair nearly 20 years and just recently found my calling up on Antique Hill working in the print shop. Even though it’s not typically something you’d print with a letterpress, I created a commemorative block print that will be available for print enthusiasts. I’ll be working there Saturday night, but the print shop is open 10-5 every day of the fair. See you there!