All About Animals: Secondary Teachers: Lesson Plan 1: Wasting Water

How does this fit into the National Curriculum? Pupils should be taught to: collect, record and present evidence (1c); analyse and evaluate evidence to draw and justify conclusions (1d); communicate in different ways, including ICT; explore the idea of sustainable development and recognise its implications for other people, places and environments, and for their own lives (5b); understand the inter-relationship between population and resources (6f).

Teachers’ Note: Photocopy this sheet and hand it out to the class. Students are to look at the relationship between animal agriculture and water shortages and offer in a formal report their own recommendations on the sustainable use of water in agriculture.

The Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) is a think-tank of experts that aims to influence the world’s use of this precious resource. It stresses that water is the key to quality of life and if we can work towards a sustainable use of this resource it can have an impact on increasing food production, preventing pollution and reducing poverty.

Moreover, water is the key to life itself. Without water, all plants and animals (including humans) die. It is possible to survive a month without food but only a few days without water. With the planet made up from 70 per cent water why should there be a problem? The problem is that only 3 per cent of the world’s water is fresh and of that two per cent remains locked inside ice caps. The one per cent that is left is needed to nourish the world’s billions of people so wasting it can have a huge impact.

One major source of waste is in animal agriculture, according to SIWI. Take a look at these facts:

To produce 1 kilogram of grain-fed beef it takes 15 cubic metres of water.
To produce 1 kilogram of grass-fed lamb it takes 10 cubic metres of water.
To produce 1 kilogram of cereals takes from 0.4 to 3 cubic metres of water.

SIWI states that our demand for meat and dairy products is unsustainable and that we will have to change our patterns of eating if we are to have any realistic hopes for feeding the world’s population.

Using this story as a starting point, write a formal report to be presented to the next SIWI forum about water shortages in agriculture, along with your personal recommendations of changes necessary to save this valuable resource.

You will need to conduct other research. A good place to gather evidence is on The Guardian Web site,