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David Harsanyi: Climate Talks Reveal Progressivism’s True Hypocrisy

What do you call it when elites fly their private jets to an international climate change conference to forge a deal with despots that cap American prosperity without our consent? You call it progressivism.

It's estimated that 50,000 carbon-spewing humans participated in the Paris climate conference.

While President Barack Obama was taking his working dinner at the three-Michelin-star L'Ambroisie, public protesters were banned from protesting in the aftermath of the Islamic terror attacks. Liberté? Not so much.

It took a handful of gunmen only one night to impede free expression in Paris. Yet according to the president, the 0.1 to 0.2 C of warming we might see over the next decade — the worst-case scenario predicted by global warming alarmists — is the biggest crisis facing mankind, worthy of a massive and expensive curbing effort.

That doesn't mean Obama won't use the issue of terrorism to refocus our attention where it belongs. Millions of people might live in fear and suffer under the genuine, deadly threat of radical Islam, but the president contends that the Paris conference itself is "a powerful rebuke to the terrorists" and an "act of defiance" in the face of extremism.

Why not? True believers are rarely dissuaded by reality. Socialist François Hollande, president of a country that not only was recently a target of Islamic terror but also witnessed the bloodiest conflict of the 20th century, claimed: "Never have the stakes been so high at an international conference. It's about the future of the planet, the future of life." Never?

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a man whose divided nation still suffers unconscionable destitution and tyranny, told leaders that humankind has "never faced such a test" as climate change. Never?

These are preposterous exaggerations that have as much to do with history and science as the book of Revelation, but that's nothing new, is it? 

On Dec. 2, Obama alleged that without a climate change agreement, there could be "submerged countries, abandoned cities, fields that no longer grow" — assertions that are no more than fearmongering, ratcheted up over the decades by frustrated environmentalists and now confidently thrown around by presidents.

These prophecies are tethered to reality in the same way Donald Trump's whoppers are, although the media treat the former with undeserving respect.

Transforming ideology into a "science" is not a new development on the left, but the most useful indicators tell us that humanity's prospects are on the upswing.

Poverty is declining; crops are producing higher yields; and humans are living longer and healthier lives despite the mild warming we've experienced.

And in spite of these advancements (or maybe because of them), Western leaders are prepared, conveniently enough, to cap growth, spread wealth and centralize power in the way progressives have always wanted to cap growth, spread wealth and centralize power.

The world looks ready for a deal. Developing nations will receive reparations for the capitalist sins of advanced nations — about $100 billion each year. Corporations will be subsidized so they can create more unproductive industries to meet arbitrary caps, and the worst carbon offenders in the world will have to do nothing. What's not to like?

If a deal can be reached, Obama will have to trust that the world's most prodigious carbon emitter, Communist China, will voluntarily implement economic restraints about 30 years from now, by which time the U.S. will have to reach a 26 to 28 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Obama will implement regulations to get that done unilaterally, so China will have more of a say in what happens to our environmental policy than Congress.

The U.S. president will also negotiate with a number of other unsavory despots, such as the homicidal Robert Mugabe, who represents the African position at the Paris negotiations. He will not, however, bring the deal to Congress, which represents the majority of the American people.

The Paris agreement might be the biggest, most crucial international deal the world has ever known, but it is not important enough to be subjected to the traditional checks and balances of American governance.

Global warming "does not pause for partisan gridlock," the president explained this summer. In other words, the president does not have to "pause" for Congress if he feels like using the regulatory state to implement his preferred partisan policy.

This kind of circumvention will be cheered by those who once feigned indignation when prior presidents abused executive power. This is really important, as you know.

Obama hopes "to make climate change policy the signature environmental achievement of his, and perhaps any, presidency," said an approving New York Times correspondant.

Progressives are perfectly content to surrender freedoms to fight global warming — perfectly content to give the executive branch unprecedented power to "act."

And when the private jets come back and the pretend offsets are cashed in and the moralizing begins, you will know they did it for your own good.

David Harsanyi is a senior editor at The Federalist. Click here for more information, or click here to contact him, follow him on Twitter: @davidharsanyi, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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