Open Mind

Conservative Republican

September 12, 2009 · 13 Comments

John Warner is a conservative republican. He’s also a former senator from Virginia, former Navy secretary, and former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He was recently interviewed for Politics Daily, and talked about his efforts to support climate legislation.


Warner’s greatest concern is that global warming will be a national security problem for the U.S. He realizes that AGW will interfere with the most basic resources necessary for human life: food and water. Warner points to Somalia and Darfur as examples of what can happen when food and water are in too short supply to support the population; when the vast majority of a society become too poor for food and water, Gandhi’s statement becomes obvious: “poverty is the worst form of violence.” And as Somalia and Darfur show, the violence isn’t confined to starvation and dehydration. Warner is especially concerned that if we intend to live up to the moral standard our country should uphold, we’ll be called upon to intervene in such situations.

As global warming increases the frequency of resource conflict, that means more and more demands upon the U.S. military. And of course, there’s the fact that climate change doesn’t just afflict poor countries. Imagine food shortages in the U.S.A. Imagine drought in the American southwest.

But although national security implications are the focus of Warner’s interest in global warming, that’s not what sparked his interest in the problem. This is:


In 1943 I was 16 years old. … I got a job with the U.S. Forest Service as a firefighter on the border of Montana and Idaho. I worked that summer for three months in the most beautiful, pristine forest you’ve ever seen in your life. Five or six years ago I went to Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, to give a speech. I asked the Forest Service to take me back to those camps. I was just absolutely heartbroken. The old forest, the white pine forest in which I worked, was absolutely gone, devastated, standing there dead from the bark beetle. I said to the forest ranger, “This is such an emotional, distressing trip for me — what is the problem?” He said, “Our climate has changed so much out here. We don’t have the cold winters which used to curtail the level of the bark beetle. So it’s decimating the white pine and many valuable species.” That sparked my interest.

Warner is trying to build a grassroots campaign to raise awareness about the danger global warming poses to national security, and the importance of passing climate legislation.

I wish him luck.

Categories: Global Warming
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13 responses so far ↓

  • Geoff Beacon // September 12, 2009 at 2:49 pm | Reply

    I know it’s not certain but there is the possibility that climate change will become a doomsday machine with a similar effect as the one in Stanley Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove.

    The military played a large (and inept) part in this film. Are strategists doing any analysis on how the military might have a more effective role with the climate change doomsday machine?

    What strategies are possible?

  • Philippe Chantreau // September 12, 2009 at 4:42 pm | Reply

    I wonder if Warner is aware of how far North the beetle has attacked forests.

  • Marco // September 12, 2009 at 4:44 pm | Reply

    Geoff, check this link:
    http://blog.nature.org/2009/07/climate-change-national-security-bob-barnes-military/

  • crf // September 12, 2009 at 4:49 pm | Reply

    The military can do very little to help America or other countries mitigate or adapt to climate change.

  • CapitalClimate // September 12, 2009 at 5:24 pm | Reply

    Endangered species: A Republican’t who doesn’t believe AGW will increase plant food with more CO2.

  • Geoff Beacon // September 12, 2009 at 7:27 pm | Reply

    “Invasion of Iraq was driven by oil, says Greenspan” -http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/sep/17/iraq.oil

    If the Climate Change Doomsday Machine were to be a reality, should the USA consider invading Canada to stop the use of tar sands?

    Do military analysts do this sort of thing?

    • Glenn Tamblyn // September 13, 2009 at 10:00 pm | Reply

      Geoff Beacon

      If the Climate Change Doomsday Machine really kicks in later this century, will the USA be invading Canada to find a new home for the people of America?

  • David B. Benson // September 12, 2009 at 8:05 pm | Reply

    Put the military to work planting forests and otherwise restoring ecosystems. Far more useful than what they do now.

  • hernadi-key // September 12, 2009 at 8:38 pm | Reply

    The main cause of global warming:
    1.many more animal farms in the world
    2.indiscriminate felling of trees
    3.pollution in developing countries

    how to prevent:
    1.Be vegetarian
    2.use environmentally friendly technology

    for more details see:

    http://hernadi-key.blogspot.com

    the latest info about global warming .

  • Glenn Tamblyn // September 12, 2009 at 9:55 pm | Reply

    He’s right. Concern about AGW impacts on sea levels, storms etc is really a side show in the scheme of things.

    The main game is food supply and the full range of consequences that follow when this isn’t there.

    And the terrible problem is that AGW is just one of the compounding factors. In addition there are:

    Decline of ground water resources. 70% of the worlds food supply comes from irrigation and a reasonable part of that is ground water. In too many parts of the world these supplies will only last another 20-40 year, including the US – The Oglallah Aquifer is in decline. In India, it is not uncommon for suicide rates to rise when wells run dry. And in some parts of India they are pumping water from 1 Km underground.

    Water from Glacial Melt is also a critical resource, particularly in all the regions draining from the Himalayas.

    One source I read recently said that 97% of manmade fertiliser uses Natural Gas as a feedstock. Peak Gas is likely in 10 years or so and more and more the world wants to switch to Natural Gas for energy

    Crop Ecologists have a rule of thumb that says crop yields for grains decline by 10% for every 1C temperature rise.

    Population is expected to hit 8 Billion by 2025 and peak at 9 Billion.

    And finally, on the destabalising impact of famine, (leaving aside the MINOR factor of millions starving to death) some of the countries that may be worst affected by a food crisis are nuclear armed.

    For the next few decades AGW is likely to be simply a compounding factor in the world food crisis with very real potential for major societal collapse. Then in the second half of the century, AGW kicks in as the dominant threat. So, just when the world may be needing to grapple with AGW mitigation , geoengineering etc, much of the world may be in disarray

    Mother nature seems set to deliver us a real double whammy.

  • John Mashey // September 12, 2009 at 10:22 pm | Reply

    It is really, really important to give moral support to every Republican who is either a conservative (in the old sense, not the more recent one) or a moderate (i.e., like Olympia Snowe), and can be worked with, in the ways that many legislatures used to work.

    a) In some places, Democrats are unlikely to get elected.

    b) Republican moderates are an endangered species.

    c) As long as AGW is seen by many as a *political division* issue, progress is impeded. Every new visible Republican helps defuse this more than any new Independent or Democrat. I’d think Warner would be especially difficult to ignore.
    (Watermelon? Don’t think so…)

    d) A 2-party political system needs 2 real parties…

    One might examine REP, the Green Elephant folks. Note they feature the Warner discussion.

  • David B. Benson // September 12, 2009 at 11:19 pm | Reply

    hernadi-key // September 12, 2009 at 8:38 pm — Not so. Please do read “The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart:
    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/index.html

    Andy Revkin’s review:
    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F04E7DF153DF936A35753C1A9659C8B63

  • Gavin's Pussycat // September 13, 2009 at 2:31 pm | Reply

    Somalia… Darfur… Afghanistan

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