What climate change means for Kentucky

Rachel Colangelo —

Global warming and climate change have been a hot topic of discussion for a while now. With increasing weather abnormalities and poor air quality becoming normal, we need to be on the lookout for ways that we can reverse these affects.

Since Kentucky is an inland state, many people assume climate change is not a big concern. Nothing could be further from the truth. The United States Environmental Protection Agency issued an article stating key concerns for the state of Kentucky alone.

In this article, the EPA said climate change will increase flooding and droughts in our region.

“In the coming decades, the changing climate is likely to reduce crop yields and threaten some aquatic ecosystems. Floods may be more frequent, and droughts may be longer, which would increase the difficulty of meeting the competing demands for water in the Ohio, Tennessee, and Cumberland rivers,” the article reads.

This means that the heating of our planet is the direct trigger for summer droughts and fall/spring flooding. When the Ohio River floods dramatically, it is not just a fluke.

In truth, the greenhouse gases being emitted into the atmosphere have warmed our planet’s surface by about one degree in the past 50 years. This may not seem like a lot, but the increases in humidity and the average rainfall affects the frequency of heavy rainstorms and flooding and also contributes to severe drought in other parts of Kentucky.

Previous Kentucky natural global warming prevention cycles are unlikely to persist in the coming years. While Kentucky has warmed less than most of the United States its prevention against global warming is still extremely vital to our planet.

Heavy temperatures and changes in rainfall are changing the alignment of forests throughout Kentucky. The decline of maple, beech and birch trees are current signs of an inevitable decline. Without its leaf canopy, Kentucky’s ecosystem is affected because the soil health will be inadequate for growing new life.

When reflecting on our direct lives, extremely hot summer days can be detrimental to human health. High temperatures can affect a person’s cardiovascular and nervous systems.

“Higher temperatures can also increase the formation of ground-level ozone, a key component of smog. Ozone has a variety of health effects, agitates lung diseases such as asthma, and increases the risk of premature death from heart or lung disease,” the EPA’s article says.

We need to evolve our patterns of living to fit our new needs. Climate change is not a joke and it is not #fakenews. It is scientifically proven data that has been collected for centuries. If we act now, our carbon footprint can be reduced enough so that our grandchildren may live to see their grandchildren.

If we do not, other generations might not have a livable planet. This is a serious epidemic that can only change with personal life modifications. Using renewable energy, reducing water waste, reducing food waste and walking to more places than you drive can dramatically improve climate change.

Being an inland state may seem like we are the last to be affected by climate change, but the truth is that if change starts in Kentucky, it can only grow outwards.

Graphic by Shayla Kerr / The Louisville Cardinal

Source: What climate change means for Kentucky (The Louisville Cardinal, Nov. 7, 2018)