Conservation is everyone's responsibility! How do you measure up?

In addition to protecting and preserving endangered species, the Brandywine Zoo is sensitive to our eco-system and continuously looks for ways to conserve energy and protect our environment. In order to make positive changes for our environment, it is important to first understand the impact we are currently making so that we can make necessary corrections. By understanding our personal impact on climate change we can make conscious decisions about how our behaviors need to change to conserve/preserve our fragile earth.

The Brandywine Zoo has clearly defined conservation guidelines for both staff and volunteers. These guidelines include policies and practices on waste management and resource consumption in offices, at the concession stands and in care and feeding of the Zoo animals. Using recycled and recyclable products are just part of the solution. The overall focus is to reduce our carbon footprint longterm.

The Effects of Climate Change
Climate change can be defined as any long-term significant change in the "average weather" (temperature, precipitation, wind patterns, etc.) that a given region experiences. These changes can be caused by dynamic processes on Earth, external forces such as sunlight intensity, and more recently, by human activities!

The Greenhouse Effect
The Earth's climate is driven by a continuous flow of energy from the sun. Heat energy from the sun passes through the Earth's atmosphere and warms the Earth's surface. As the temperature increases, the Earth sends heat energy back into the atmosphere. Some of this heat is absorbed by gases or fossil fuels in the atmosphere such as carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone and halocarbons. These naturally-occurring gases act as a blanket, trapping in the heat and preventing it from being reflected too far from Earth. They keep the Earth warm enough to sustain life for humans, plants and animals.

Over the years, humans have been burning fossil fuels at an ever-increasing rate, releasing too much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This increase of CO2 causes too much heat to be trapped in the Earth's atmosphere causing rising global temperatures and dramatic climate change (e.g., global warming).
 
Animals, plants and people are at increasing risk due to climate change.
  • In Costa Rica, the golden toad has disappeared. In central South America, two-thirds of 110 species of harlequin frogs have disappeared due to increased temperature changes.
  • Some ecosystems have disappeared or are suffering (coral reefs).
  • Polar bears are losing weight because the ice breaks up earlier, robbing them of hunting time.
  • Glaciers are retreating, changing the ecology of mountain habitats.
  • Seasons are changing - shorter winters, longer summers.
  • Droughts, floods, deforestation and poor crops.
The Resulting Carbon Footprint
A carbon footprint is the measure of the impact our activities have on the environment, and in particular climate change. It relates to the amount of greenhouse gases (mostly CO2) emitted day-to-day through burning fossil fuels for electricity, heating and transportation etc. It has become more and more important to reduce our carbon footprint in order to combat climate change and its damaging effects.

Calculate Your Carbon Footprint
Each of us creates a unique carbon footprint that, when added to others, can contribute to global warming.  You can help offset the carbon emissions that are causing climate change and potentially damaging our planet.  Click here to see how you measure up.



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