Carter tried to talk about the need to move on alternative energy way back in the late 70's and Sustainable Development.
Ronald Reagan came out with a "Morning in America" campaign saying Jimmy was too pessimistic. Americans are great people who need no silly limits. It was a message like "Make America Great Again" all we need is Confidence with a capital C ! And far too many people bought it. Even a whole throng of "Reagan Democrats"!!
Scientists were seeing the C02 trends and warning about what could happen at increasing levels of C02 in the atmosphere. They were emphasizing the less serious scenarios because they didn't want to scare people but to encourage them to act now. The oil industry PR teams saw an opportunity to minimize things and get their denial machinery in motion. What are a few degrees? We'll engineer something to get around that. Americans are great wonderful people who don't need to think about such gloomy stuff.
And Reagan won in a landslide. Many Democrats didn't want to think about all that gloomy stuff-- Sustainable Development was portrayed as setting limits on great people. And uncertainties about exactly how the various scenarios would play out were emphasized. Why limit ourselves when the science was uncertain.
The positive narrative about using the genius of the American people to design sustainable energy sources that didn't require wars over limited resources, and finding new ways to celebrate our lives rather than endless consumption, was drowned out.
We have passed that first level of climate change and are into the middle level of serious consequences they predicted-- floods, fires, droughts, oceans heating up, glaciers melting faster, permafrost releasing methane, insects and disease patterns changing... All predicted back in the late 70's as possible consequences of global warming. But by now hundreds of millions have been spent on denial PR and trillions have been spent in continuing wars for oil resources.
The next level is very scary-- changing of the jet streams that have driven our climate for centuries.