Ky. voters smarter than their politicians

Global Warming: News and Research

Ky. voters smarter than their politicians

Postby Wilberforce » Sun May 24, 2015 6:17 pm

Herald-Leader Editorial
Ky. voters smarter than their politicians

May 21, 2015

After three weather-related disaster declarations in Kentucky already this year, it's no wonder that 53 percent of voters want a governor who believes human-caused climate change is real.

But, wait a minute, you say, two of the three disasters stemmed from massive snowstorms that cost governments a fortune to clean up and also caused flooding in March. All that snow and bitter cold disproved global warming, right?


Eastern North America was the only place on Earth that had a colder-than-usual winter; everywhere else was warmer than usual.

Though they can't say for sure, some climate scientists say the loss of Arctic ice due to warming could be affecting the jet stream, the band of air that corrals Arctic air. Disruptions in the jet stream allowed super-cold winds to escape the Polar Vortex and swoop down on places like Kentucky.

Also, last year was the warmest on record. Warming puts more water vapor into the atmosphere, making for bigger, more extreme precipitation events — snow or rain depending on the temperature.

And it's not just the Arctic that's melting. On Thursday, British scientists announced that a section of Antarctica larger than Florida, previously thought stable, has been melting since 2009.

That discovery comes on the heels of NASA's announcement earlier this month that Antarctica's largest floating ice shelf will "disintegrate completely" by decade's end.

Rising sea levels are more than an abstract concept to graduates of the Coast Guard Academy, who on Wednesday heard President Barack Obama detail security risks created by global warming.

Already droughts in Syria and Nigeria sparked crises exploited by militant extremists. A White House report describes climate change as "an accelerant of instability around the world," which, as the president said, will create waves of "climate change refugees — and I guarantee the Coast Guard will have to respond."

Leaders around the globe are pushing to limit coal-fired power plant emissions of carbon that build up in the atmosphere and trap heat — a reality Kentucky cannot escape.

While most Kentucky politicians insist on viewing climate change through the narrow lens of the coal industry, it's heartening that most Kentuckians recognize the bigger picture.

Among the Bluegrass Poll respondents, just 30 percent said they were less likely to support a candidate who believes human activity is disrupting the climate; 17 percent said they were unsure.

The poll found considerably more skepticism about climate change among Republicans than Democrats.

But as Kentucky is battered by more extreme weather and the economic and human costs rise, that skepticism will melt like polar ice. And future voters will be left to wonder how our leaders could have shrugged off an existential threat.

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