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Global warming is a serious issue around the world.
Global warming: What it could cost you
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Scientists and environmentalists agree there is time to prevent all this from happening. But it's a small window of opportunity.

"The kind of changes you see in 30 years to 50 years depends on the path we move down," says Miller. "If we get our stuff together soon and make the kind of changes scientists tell us are necessary," he says, "we're insuring our ability to live in the quality of life we have."

What about offsets?
Global warming is like slow-acting poison, several scientists warn. Inaction will set the planet on an unchangeable course. But the antidote, administered quickly, would affect a cure.

While opponents complain about the cost of solutions, there will be an economic cost exacted from individuals either way, he says. "The cost of doing nothing is greater than the cost of doing something," Miller says.

One idea that's gotten a lot of ink, carbon offsets, is also controversial.

About 70 percent of the fresh water used in southern Nevada goes to water lawns and golf courses.

Here's how it works: Individuals, companies or even countries pay financial rewards to some other person or entity that pollutes less or practices behavior that would remove carbon from the atmosphere (like planting trees). Some scientists and environmentalists believe it's cheating or that, because it's largely unchecked, there's no way to know if people are really getting what they are buying.

"The best thing they do is reduce our emissions," says Field. But, he adds, they are not great as a first line of defense. "It allows the person with the SUV to spend an extra $150 that may or may not be worthwhile and make them feel a little less guilty."

Others see it as a good stopgap or a way to at least get everyone engaged in solving the global warming problem.

"What offsets do is get you into the game," says Schneider. "That alone makes offsets useful to me."

That said, "You have to make sure an offset is real and not a pig in a poke," he says.

-- Posted: Oct. 4, 2007
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