Zoo's Calculator Measures Carbon Footprint

By Eric S. Page
|  Friday, Jan 8, 2010  |  Updated 12:02 PM PDT
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The tool is easy to use and free.

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Zookeepers are hoping a free online tool could help save the Amazon rain forest.

The carbon-footprint calculator uses information about people's household size and activities -- including travel, power consumption and recycling -- as well as their average gas mileage and distance traveled, to gauge carbon emissions.

I was somewhat mortified to discover that, according to the calculator, my family of three creates 27.3 metric tons of CO2 and needs to buy 1.5 acres of rain forest -- at the cost of $135, to offset our carbon footprint.

"We are committed to raising awareness about climate change and its effect on animals and their environment," said zoo spokeswoman Debra Erickson. "This is the first of many efforts the San Diego Zoo is taking to reduce and offset carbon emissions, a goal set by our board of directors in 2008.”

After people have measured their footprint, the zoo then takes the process a step further, giving users the opportunity to buy carbon offsets to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. The zoo will then use the money to purchase acreage in the threatened forests of southwestern Ecuador.

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