Re: Forget the science
"Granted, I have not yet lived quite a half decade,"
Half century, surely!
"but I recall when I was about 12 reading in one of those environmentally aware nature magazines that parents bought for their kids about how we were guaranteed to run out of oil within 70 years, and how within 25 it would be unreasonably expensive for the average person to buy what little quantities were still available."
So it was scaremongering, was it? In fact, I remember being taught about the limited lifespan of coal, oil, gas reserves at school, and I doubt that Thatcher was on a green kick, somehow. The only thing at play here is the usual inability to predict the future: people didn't think that there'd be much more oil that easily found, but the exploration techniques have obviously improved over time to make certain oil discoveries viable.
"We are more than a decade past that point and the only thing so far that has made gas unreasonably expensive for the average person to buy has been political interference in the production of oil."
You can argue that the only reason the US imports so much tar/shale-based oil from Canada is because it gives a degree of flexibility in the oil supply, lessening political considerations and constraints, and if only everyone in the Middle East would just settle down and sell oil at cost then we'd all be OK, but the fact is that new exploration does need to enter new and more difficult/dangerous places (in the general, not political sense). Whether the Saudis have a clearance sale on oil or not, the industry would ultimately need to do deepwater drilling in places like the Arctic, which isn't a walk in the park by any means, even if the technology gets developed to do it in a not completely reckless fashion.
The sensible thing to do is to consider that releasing gigatonnes of stored carbon into the atmosphere is probably not a wise move (naysayers should consider things like ocean acidity alongside the greenhouse effect) and that doing most of your energy shopping with one industry is a good way of channelling money through a single pipe with plenty of opportunities for corruption and generally bad stuff. The oil business knows that giving oil away now and then hiking the price is bad for business, so it's obviously going to walk a fine line between undercharging and provoking price shocks and overcharging and making people look for something else.
What's most interesting is how easy it is to keep everyone coming back to the pump even as prices rise to supposedly record levels, and how easily people can be coerced into deriding even the possibility of alternative sources of energy.