• Welcome to Maths for Sustainability

    Print out these maths challenges and give them to your students. We hope it will get them to practice maths and think about the future at the same time!

    The exercises also have another dimension: for students to get to know where they live better and to see themselves in context in that place. See more about our methodology on our "for teachers" pages.
    We are adding glossary pages and a data bank with figures relevant to sustainability as we go along.

    If you would like to contribute get in touch with us at staff (at) avbp.net

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How long will our oil last?

GIVEN that the Earth’s endowment of oil is about 3 trillion barrels AND GIVEN that current production is 85 million barrels a day IF world consumption remains at this level CALCULATE how many years we can continue to use oil. Further work GIVEN that the world population is 6.7 billion in 2010 IF world population … Continue reading

How much biochar do I need to bury actually?

Rob Hopkins – co-founder of Transition Towns – has been to Sweden and a publicity event was arranged to effectively remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by burying biochar. Here are some Maths Challenges around Biochar and emissions.

If the world were a village

There is a theory that we feel best when in smaller groups of about 200 people. Tribes in the jungle split when they get over 200. Corporations limit the size of units to 200. This maths problem asks if it is possible to organise the world in groups of 200 that send representatvies to groups … Continue reading

Outside work: get a feeling for a hectare and how much arable land there is.

  If you have never tried it, this exercise, which can be done with schoolchildren, is quite enlightening, and something you can map out on the school playing field:   One hectare can be easily understood if you are a small group and stake it out in a fairly large open space. Imagine you are … Continue reading

Bacteria growing in a bottle

This little exercise gives you a feel for exponential growth and what it means to resource availability. To get the basic idea try this. Given: a bacteria in a bottle of substrate fills the bottle in one hour, starting from one bacteria. The bacteria divides every minute. Calculate: how full is the bottle at 59 … Continue reading


Indigenous = of a place Ingenius = very clever Indigenuity = living in a place in a clever, sustainable way Maths can help students makes sense of their world, to start to own it and to start to see ways to live more sustainably. Maths is an important component of indigenuity and teaching maths the … Continue reading

How much land per person

At present some 11 percent (1.5 billion ha) of the globe’s land surface (13.4 billion ha) is used in crop production (arable land and land under permanent crops). This area represents slightly over a third (36 percent) of the land estimated to be to some degree suitable for crop production. The fact that there remain … Continue reading

What price do the Swedish Government put on Carbon?

This problem relates to putting a price on emissions.   GIVEN that petrol in Sweden costs SEK14.50 at the pump, consumer price. And GIVEN that Carbon dioxide tax is 16% of the price at the pump USING the results of earlier calculations on carbon content of fuel: (click on this link) CALCULATE 1) What is the price … Continue reading