‘SPYING ON SEA LIONS’…. A growing number of officials recognize the national security implications of global climate change. The NYT recently ran a report noting the ways in which a warming planet “will pose profound strategic challenges to the United States in coming decades, raising the prospect of military intervention to deal with the effects of violent storms, drought, mass migration and pandemics…. Such climate-induced crises could topple governments, feed terrorist movements or destabilize entire regions.”

With this in mind, the Central Intelligence Agency intends to develop a new division that would focus on intelligence gathering related to national security, unstable governments, and climate change. Sen. John Barrasso (R), a right-wing lawmaker from Wyoming, is working on making sure the new CIA office doesn’t exist.

Senator John Barrasso, a conservative freshman Republican from Wyoming, said on Tuesday that he would try to stop the Central Intelligence Agency from opening a new climate change center by choking off its funding.

“The C.I.A. is responsible for gathering foreign intelligence information for the United States,” Mr. Barrasso said in announcing an amendment to a 2010 spending bill to block any money being spent by the agency on the new office. “I don’t believe creating a center on climate change is going to prevent terrorist attacks.”

The agency announced late last month that it was creating a Center on Climate Change and National Security to look at how droughts, rising seas, mass migrations and competition for resources could affect the nation’s military and economic priorities.

In a press release, the agency said it did not intend to duplicate scientific work done by other government and private institutions. Rather, the agency said, the new unit would advise policymakers as they negotiate and verify international environmental agreements, including whatever emerges from the 192-nation global warming talks in Copenhagen in December.

“Decision makers need information and analysis on the effects climate change can have on security,” said Leon Panetta, the C.I.A. director. “The C.I.A. is well positioned to deliver that intelligence.”

Well, it would be well positioned to deliver that intelligence, except John Barrasso doesn’t think that information serves any purpose.

As he sees it, a Center on Climate Change and National Security would spend its time “sitting in a dark room watching polar ice caps” and “spying on sea lions.”

I get the distinct impression that John Barrasso is conspicuously unintelligent, and should probably speak less and read more.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.