The oil industry has changed its tune. It now admits that climate change is real, it’s caused by humans, and it’s happening now. But Big Oil’s change of heart comes too late. They and all the other deniers and skeptics they’ve been misinforming for decades have, quite simply, lost the battle. They’ve been overtaken by events. Last week a U.S. District Court in San Francisco heard legal arguments from the cities of San Francisco and Oakland who are suing the five fossil fuel heavy weights ― ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, ConocoPhillips and Shell ― for damages resulting from impacts of climate change and for decades of waging a publicity campaign to raise doubt about climate change.
This is hardly an isolated case. A U.N. study last year showed almost 900 lawsuits on climate change were active in 25 countries. ClimateYou has also reported on youth based lawsuits. In California, Big Oil has for years, stymied efforts to enforce any kind of regulatory control, leaving coastal cities to deal with damages from sea level rise and eroding coastlines. And they’re going to lose this court case and all the others around the country and around the world. They’ll have to pay billions and billions of dollars to clean up some of the mess they’ve made of the planet; to undo some of the damage they’ve done to the environment and the wildlife forced from their habitats; to compensate the millions of people whose lives they’ve curtailed or cut short; and to defend all the coastal cities from the rising seas they have caused. Whatever the final settlement is, it won’t be enough. We can never get back all we’ve lost. The family members who died prematurely, and the insects, birds, reptiles, and mammals pushed to extinction will never roam the Earth again.