Dr. Burrito

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MAIN TOPIC OF VIDEO:  Although a beef and a veggie burrito are very similar, their footprints are very different. In this episode, Dr. Burrito helps us identify what makes their footprints different.

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DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

Frame:

  1. Usually when you go see a doctor, the nurses will take your blood pressure to see if it’s too high (which has life-threatening consequences). Instead of taking the blood pressure of the two burritos, Dr. Burrito takes their “carbon pressure.” What is carbon?
  2. How is “carbon pressure” measured, according to the video?
  3. Why is it bad to have “high carbon pressure” and how is it related to carbon emissions?

Focus:

  1. As Dr. Burrito was taking the carbon pressure of his patients, he found that one of the burritos has lower carbon pressure. Which burrito has lower carbon pressure?
  2. The initial reading of carbon pressure gave Dr. Burrito an estimate of carbon (measured in grams) associated with each burrito. Fill in the chart to compare the grams of carbon for the two burritos

    Burrito

    Amount of Carbon

    Beef

    Veggie

  3. Describe the carbon pressure of rice, beans, cheese, and beef when Dr. Burrito took their carbon pressures individually. Which ingredient(s) are responsible for the high carbon pressure of beef burritos?

drburrito

Follow-up:

  1. At the end of the video, Dr. Burrito stated that, “the beef in the burrito takes far more energy to produce, thus emitting far more carbon emissions into the atmosphere, compared to a veggie burrito.” What processes go into the making of meat (like beef) that requires so much more energy to produce? Click here for help.
  2. Beef isn’t the only meat that is used in wraps and burritos at fast food restaurants. Think of some other types of meat that may be the main ingredient in a wrap or burrito. How do they rank in terms of carbon emissions? Click here for help.      
  3. Everything we do affects the planet. What are some food choices you can make from now on that can help make our planet a healthier one?

ANSWERS TO DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

Frame:

  1. Carbon is an element that exists in all living things. It can combine with other elements to create molecules. The most familiar one to us is carbon dioxide, CO2. Carbon pressure is just another way of saying how much carbon emissions (amount of carbon released into the atmosphere) is associated with the making of something.
  2. In the video, carbon pressure is measured by how much energy it takes to produce the item. The more energy it takes to produce something, the higher the carbon pressure (carbon emissions).
  3. High carbon pressure means high carbon emissions (more carbon released into the atmosphere). Carbon combines with other elements to create CO2, which is a greenhouse gas. Increased levels of greenhouse gases have contributed to global climate change — rising temperatures, which has deadly effects on our planet (just like how high blood pressure has life-threatening effects).

Focus:

  1. The veggie burrito has lower carbon pressure.
  2. Calculations:

    Burrito

    Amount of Carbon

    Beef

    3800 g

    Veggie

    500 g

     

  3. Rice and beans had low carbon pressure, cheese was higher, and beef was overwhelmingly the highest. Since beef is the only ingredient missing from a veggie burrito, beef is the culprit for giving beef burritos high carbon pressure, adding 3300g more carbon pressure per burrito.

Follow-up:

  1. Answers may vary, but could include energy used in transportation, production of pesticides, fertilizer, feed, machinery used in slaughterhouses and processing as well as waste.
  2. Carbon emissions associated with pork rank similarly to cheese but a little less, salmon and turkey are a little less than pork. Chicken seems to be the most eco-friendly meat product as the associated carbon emissions is about a quarter of what’s required for the production of beef.
  3. Answers may vary, but should mention less consumption of meat products, especially beef and lamb.

ADDITIONAL TOPICS AND LEARNING EXPERIENCES:

  1. Often times lamb and beef products are faulted for the most impact on the environment. The production process not only includes carbon emissions, but also emissions of other greenhouse gases more potent than CO2. In addition, the grazing process also results in other negative environmental impacts. Read about and identify ways in which these ruminant animals hurt the environment. Discussion may include how methane and nitrous oxide from manure has a warming potential 300 times greater than that of CO2. Grazing also causes erosion and contaminated waterways, resulting in many acres of unusable land/natural resources.

 

Credit: This teacher resource has been adapted from content originally developed by Hannah Sun.

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