"Climate change is caused primarily by fossil fuel use. Burning fossil fuels has two main consequences: on the one hand, it produces substantial benefits through the production of energy; on the other, it exposes humanity to the risk of large, and perhaps catastrophic, costs from climate change. But these costs and benefits accrue to different groups: the benefits arise primarily in the short to medium term and so are received by the present generation, but the costs fall largely in the long term, on future generations. This suggests a worrying scenario. For one thing, so long as high energy use is (or is perceived to be) strongly connected to self-interest, the present generation will have strong egoistic reasons to ignore the worst aspects of climate change. For another, this problem is iterated: it arises anew for each subsequent generation as it gains the power to decide whether or not to act."
~ Gardiner's "Ethics and Global Climate Change," p. 595