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Bankrate's 2007 Living Green, Saving Green Guide
Global warming is a serious issue around the world.
Global warming: What it could cost you
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What that could affect: the supply and cost of water and food.

And expect energy prices to continue climbing, says Romm.

If every household paid just one bill online, it would save almost $2 billion a year in postage costs, enough to pay off the average credit card debt of 250,000 consumers.

"The days of cheap oil are gone," he says. In the next 10 years to 15 years, he believes the country will see oil for $100 a barrel and gas prices above $4 a gallon. "I do think the days of the gas guzzler are going to be reduced," he says.

And, as the country learned during the gas hikes after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, "a third or more of the oil and gas comes from the Gulf of Mexico area," says Miller. "That puts a lot of eggs in one basket, and it's a basket that is more likely to be disrupted."

A solution many environmental groups have proposed: meeting more energy needs locally through renewable, fixed-rate solutions like wind and solar-power stations.

A wind farm that Greenpeace is working to have permitted now off the coast of Massachusetts could provide 75 percent of the power to Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket and Cape Cod, says Miller. Because the costs are fixed ahead of time, residents would have power at a fixed rate for the next 20 years, he says.

Where's the fun?
Outdoor recreation, like baseball, golf and tennis games, could look markedly different, too, Romm says. What's at stake: anything that depends on lush, green spaces and outdoor access.

Tourism could take a hit, especially in places like Florida and Arizona, where warm-weather outdoor activities are big, and global warming changes are predicted to be especially profound, says Field. 

In the West, skiing and cold-weather activities could also suffer, as scientists predict that warming will affect the snow accumulation and, consequently, the water supply in the region.

The cost of doing nothing is greater than the cost of doing something.

Even for folks who just sit at home in the easy chair, life could get more problematic. "By the end of the century, a city like Washington, D.C., or Houston might see 60-plus days at 98-plus degree temperatures," says Romm. "That's pretty grim stuff."

In addition to the expense of skyrocketing electric bills to cover the cost of air conditioning, hotter temperatures combined with dirtier air could pack a one-two punch for a lot of people with asthma, allergies, emphysema and other medical problems who will be forced to spend more time indoors.

The folks hardest hit? Children, senior citizens and anyone with existing health problems, says Schneider.

Then there are the social effects that scientists really can't measure. How will the stresses and strains of supply shortages, hotter summers and more expensive goods affect tempers? How will the aftermath of more violent hurricanes, floods and fires impact American businesses struggling to stay competitive on the world stage, or small companies operating on already-tight margins?

-- Posted: Oct. 4, 2007
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