In 2000, the majority of Americans voted for Al Gore, a staunch environmentalist who had written in Earth in the Balance that the car was the most destructive invention of all time. A significant number of Americans also believed that Gore did not go far enough and voted for Ralph Nader, the Green Party nominee. At this point, there were many Republicans who admitted the existence of anthrophogenic climate change. Had Gore won the Electoral College vote — and I’m one of those bitter dead-enders who will maintain till my dying day that Bush ultimately received Florida’s electoral votes due to deliberate fraud — it seems to me that it’s a near-certainty that major action on climate change would have taken place, most likely a “cap and trade” plan.
It would’ve been bad enough if the inauguration of Bush put that on hold. In reality, though, the Bush administration, representing the interest of the fossil fuel industry, aggressively pushed back against the consensus on global warming. Suddenly it became Republican orthodoxy to adopt a kind of “kettle logic” on climate change: global warming isn’t happening, and we aren’t causing it, and anyway it would be ruinously expensive for us to reverse it. Idiotic policies like tax breaks for SUVs were pushed through. Self-styled centrist Democrats found that climate change was suddenly a strictly “partisan” issue and refused to lend their support when Obama pushed for climate change legislation. And now Democrats appear to view climate change as a toxic issue, such that Obama has scarcely mentioned it.
And of course now we’re starting to see irreversable “vicious cycle” type of phenomena like the melting of frozen methane in Siberia, etc., and precisely the kind of bizarre weather disruptions (i.e., “snow hurricanes”) that have been predicted.
So in conclusion, I’m pretty sure that future historians — assuming there even are any! — will look back at Bush v. Gore as the moment we irretrievably fucked up. What do you think, readers?