“Let's get it done! This is the time to deliver! This is the place to commit. And, yes, there are still many obstacles. But it is up to us to overcome them.”
Thus spoke Connie Hedegaard, the incoming president of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, as she addressed the massed ranks of politicians and negotiators before her earlier this week in Copenhagen's vast Bella Center.
“To open the door to the low-carbon age,” as Ms. Hedegaard put it, the conference's most ardent participants are seeking to force modern people to cut their emissions of carbon dioxide to pre-Industrial Revolution levels.
National populations may be uneasy about the scope of what's being proposed; prominent climatologists may have been exposed as charlatans and cheats; governments may secretly be cutting bilateral deals; nonetheless, said President Hedegaard, the thing has to happen now — or else.
“Let me warn you,” she said, her tone darkening ever so slightly as she gazed out over the seething hordes of bureaucrats. Political will will never be stronger. This is our chance. If we miss it, it could take years before we got a new and better one. If ever.”
Her delivery was half-exhortatory, half-admonitory, and for anyone who lived through the 2008 American presidential campaign, it was also eerily familiar.
Back then, too, a woman rose to a podium and warned us that we had better seize the chance before us. If we didn't, if we let the world stay as it was, it would “devastate the life of some child.”
If we didn't grab this chance, we'd never have it again. That woman was, of course, Michelle Obama, and the irreplaceable opportunity she insisted we take was to elect her husband president of the United States.
“We have this window of opportunity,” Mrs. Obama urged a crowd in Iowa in the summer of 2007. “Help lift us up, help us fight this fight to change — transform! — this country in a fundamental way. This chance won't come around again.”
At the time, I remember thinking, “Actually, the chance comes around every four years.” Her urgency seemed overwrought. After all, plenty of politicians have had to make repeated attempts before winning the office they sought. And back then, amazing to recall, even many Democrats were uneasy about Barack Obama's thin resume. He seemed an impressively self-confident fellow, and the crowds loved him, but it was not a fringe view to think that he could benefit from more senatorial seasoning.
If Mrs. Obama's rhetoric was overheated, it was nonetheless understandable. She knew she needed to create a sense of emergency — of vital, crucial, national importance! A child's life might be devastated! — in order to herd her listeners past any qualms they might have.
(And at least she didn't threaten the country with hurricanes and tidal waves, as the Copenhagen alarmists do, though, given the titanic proportions of Obama's spending and the crushing budget deficit he's creating, it feels as though we're drowning, anyway.)
The climate change zealots are doing the same thing: trying to create a sense of panic in order to stampede us all past reasonable questions such as, gee, how is it that temperatures have not ticked up in a decade?
Copenhagen's eager activists know their emission-cutting goals will, if countries act upon them, force brutal economic adjustments on us all. The prospect of humans sacrificing in such a way is delightful to them: We have despoiled the Earth and caused it to simmer (at least until a decade ago, but let's not talk about that), and we must not be allowed to get away with it.
During the campaign, Mrs. Obama warned us that we would be required to sacrifice, too, do you remember? In our “transformed” country, we would no longer be permitted to go about our business, as free citizens choosing our own degree of involvement in public life.
Oh no: “Barack Obama will require you to work,” his wife informed us. When he wins, she said, “Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.”
In Copenhagen, they're planning to change the way we live. Funny, that's just what the Obamas promised us, too.
Examiner Columnist Meghan Cox Gurdon is a former foreign correspondent and a regular contributor to the books pages of the Wall Street Journal. Her Examiner column appears on Thursday.