Remember "Peak Oil?" The world was running out of oil, prices would soon skyrocket, and we had better find other fuels. Well, that argument didn't work out so well for environmentalists, did it? As oil reserves and those of other carbon fuels became scarce and prices rose, the law of supply and demand kicked in. The industry invested the profits from those higher prices in new technologies, and the oil barons found even more destructive ways to extract oil and gas -- by exploiting the muck from tar sands, inventing hydro-fracking, and despoiling Third World sources. So now, oil is cheaper than it's been in years, about $66 a barrel. Regular unleaded gasoline can be had for well under $3 a gallon. One of the few things sustaining U.S. consumer purchasing power in the face of dismal wages is close to $100 billion saved in energy costs. OPEC's pricing power has been broken and the United States is about to surpass Saudi Arabia as the world's largest oil producer.
Climate change economics have shifted practices in every industry, perhaps most notably in insurance, agriculture and the military. For the first time, most Americans are experiencing the kind of extreme weather that my classmate saw in subtropical Florida. Now, the ethics component is gaining widespread public acceptance too.