What is a carbon footprint?
It is the total set of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by an organization, household, event, or product through burning fossil fuels for electricity, heating, transportation, etc. The total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities is usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that blankets the atmosphere and contributes to rising temperatures. Other greenhouse gases that might be emitted as a result of our activities are methane and ozone. However, this carbon calculator only accounts for emissions of CO2.

How does saving an endangered ecosystem in South America help polar bears in the Arctic?
When forests are burned, greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere, which increases global temperatures (not to mention destroying complex ecosystems). By leaving tracts of forest intact, we are not only keeping climate-changing gases out of the air but also ensuring that the trees take in and sequester carbon that is already “out there.” That helps clean the air we breathe and reduce trapped greenhouse gases. The decades-long trend of sea ice loss in the Arctic can be slowed by keeping forests intact (and successfully planting new ones).

Where does my money go if I buy my carbon offset through the San Diego Zoo and Nature & Culture International?
Your offset contributions are used to purchase and protect ancient tropical forests in southern Ecuador, one of the highest-priority regions in the world for conservation. Nature & Culture International helps protect some of the most biologically and culturally diverse areas. They create protected reserves through land purchase and work with governments and communities to create protected areas in some of the most threatened yet ecologically important regions of the Americas. Tropical forests are especially important because they contain valuable biodiversity. You can reduce the deforestation of tropical forests and resulting carbon dioxide emissions by buying Living Forest Carbon Offsets.