A new federal report by 13 federal agencies spells out the cold hard truth about the arrival of climate change impacts. The impacts are summarized in this Atlantic Magazine article: The Three Most Chilling Conclusions From the Climate Report. For example, heat waves are 3 times as frequent and lengthy, wildfires are twice as frequent as would be the case without climate change, sea level rise will cause mass migration.
Largely ignored thus far are the issues of externalizing costs, deceit, and liability. In other words, climate change is killing people and will kill many more. It is costing billions of dollars and will cost hundreds of billions of dollars annually, not to mention drive up costs and cause insurance failures. Part of those impacts are because of choices made by humans without knowledge of consequences during 20th century industrialization.
However, a significant part of those impacts are the result of choices made by certain individuals with knowledge of the consequences. Moreover, those individuals – mostly key owners of fossil fuel industry companies – acted to hide the information from the public. Their motive? Profit, of course. This is the concept of externalizing costs, a reality typically missing from the arguments of free market / small market Utopians. Businesses, when allowed to do so, will invariably externalize the costs of their operations. In this most extreme example of externalizing costs, fossil fuel companies reap profits by shifting the costs of CO2 pollution to the public. Those costs are well under way and will, in the not too distant future, likely result in a substantial culling of life on Earth, flora and fauna alike, including humans. However, for at least the last 30 years, there has been a concerted effort by these individuals and companies to hide the truth from the public, as was chronicled in detail in the excellent NY Times article: Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change.
The next chapter: accountability. Lawsuits have already been filed by some states and activists to force fossil fuel companies to absorb some of these costs. Also, given the cost in lives and property damage combined with the efforts to hide and distort the science on the issue, we will likely see criminal prosecution attempted in the not too distant future.