Long before the presidential election of 2000 Al Gore was already one of the strongest advocates for the environment. I remember seeing him testify before congress sounding as knowledgeable as anyone on the panel. He had already written a book called 'Earth in the Balance' that was widely read and praised. I remember thinking that the arguments he and other enviro-defenders made were surely going to lead to big changes in US energy and environmental policy
After his success as vice president the future looked pretty good going into the new millennium. Then came the fateful presidential election of 2000 and the future changed.
I think that the results of the 2000 election, determined by a Supreme Court decision, was the tipping point for the US on climate politics, and maybe for the world. Of course it is only speculation what would have happened had Gore been allowed to become president. I think Gore's leadership on climate issues would have had wide influence on politics and business. The spirit of the times would have seen actions being taken toward a different kind of future. Green company start-ups would have gotten the tax breaks instead of the very wealthy. We probably would have seen automobile MPG standards improve much more sharply easing our need for foreign oil. All of these developments would have changed the outcome of world wide climate and energy treaties like Kyoto...with China India and Brazil following to our leadership. The development of green energy and alternative technologies would have occurred a decade ago. Peak oil would not be so scary.
And so, it may be that the tipping point that may mean the end of the world as we know it has been crossed, and it had nothing to do with permafrost or methane.