April 27, 2009 at 10:38AM
by Jim DiPeso
Al Gore and Newt Gingrich were the stars of the show on the climactic final day of a mammoth climate legislation hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Gore, the thundering climate evangelist, demanded that Congress scare up the "moral courage" to pass a bill, while Gingrich, the flamboyant general of the 1994 GOP congressional takeover, scourged the bill on offer as a trillion-dollar burden on the economy.
The third guy on the marquee, former Senator John Warner, R-Virginia, kind of got lost in the molten celebrity glare thrown off by Gore and Gingrich.
But the courtly Warner courtly must be his middle name deserved attention too because of the resonance his message should have for conservatives.
For Republican lawmakers, who have always placed the highest priority on keeping Americas defenses strong, heeding Warners message that climate change is an urgent matter of national security would be far more becoming of conservative traditions than their current tack of trying to obstruct a climate bill with pseudo-science and sloganeering.
Warner, a World War II Navy veteran, did not raise new information about climate change's security implications but reiterated concerns that thoughtful military leaders have been trying to draw attention to.
With climate change will come a greater risk of disruptions crop failures, water shortages, extreme weather, for example that could deal body blows to weakly organized or poorly governed societies. Such instability begets conflicts over dwindling resources, mass movement of desperate people, and failed states, a breeding ground for violence.
U.S. armed forces inevitably will be called upon to respond, an extra burden on the military establishment and on American taxpayers.
Climate change is a battlefield. And on a battlefield, Warner concluded, "we never wait until we have 100 percent certainty or wait for the conditions to be 100 percent ideal. We have to act when we have enough information to act. And I think the information we have is clear."
So is Warners call to arms. The question now is whether conservatives who profess to care about the nations defenses will heed his call.