Kentucky must prepare for climate change impacts – Courier Journal

For many of us that keep up with the news about climate change, it feels like we live in a parallel universe alongside everybody else.
Admittedly, its counter-intuitive to think that within a spell of glorious weather that something insidious might be happening at the same time. However, one would hope that our recent string of unusually warm Kentucky winters might be seen as nature’s way of telling us something is not quite right.
If science is any guide, Kentucky will likely experience increasingly more severe heat waves and precipitation that will affect local farming, health, transportation and energy demands—particularly during heat emergencies—think schools, hospitals, county jails, etc. The likelihood of increasingly destructive weather will interfere with most every aspect of daily life, a mix of more frequent power outages, disabled infrastructure, wind damage, flooding, supply-chain interruptions and increasing demands on emergency preparedness.
Attorney General Colemanis undermining sustainable energy progress in Kentucky.
No one can say with certainty how high global temperatures will go. The preferred international goal is to keep the average global temperature from exceeding 1.5°C above the preindustrial average. But it turns out that 2023 hit that mark for the first time. The sad news is that should greenhouse gas emissions continue uncurtailed, global warming will likely climb much higher this century, thus compounding the severity of extreme weather.
One way to prepare for this uncertain future would be to conduct a climate vulnerability assessment and prepare local resilience plans that might best address those vulnerabilities. This could be conducted through the state’s 15 Area Development Districts. The typical district covers about eight counties and has an organizational structure that reflects local government cooperation and capabilities. Metro Louisville completed such a climate vulnerability assessment and resilience plan in 2020.
To be clear, this proposal is not about reduced greenhouse emissions. Although that would surely be helpful. Instead, it is to hope for the best and plan for the worst.
This would be a comprehensive approach to the challenge. It would be a multi-million dollar undertaking that would require a carefully thought-out process, identification of priorities and local action plans and budgets. It could be a prime example where an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure.
Climate change is a daily reality.Why are we still not discussing it?
Plan implementation would need to be flexible and closely monitored for an evolving situation. To quote Winston Churchill, plans are of little importance but planning is essential.
In the final analysis it’s a simple risk assessment. Based on whatever you know about the situation, what do you think is the chance that climate change will become increasingly more severe, 5%, 10%, 25%? If you think the chance is zero—end of discussion. However, if you think there’s any chance of this happening, even a small one, is it worth the risk to not at least examine our potential vulnerabilities and how to best address the situation?
The younger your age, the more you have at stake. But rest assured that for your kids and grandkids, the stakes couldn’t be higher.
Henry Jackson is a retired City of Lexington (LFUCG) strategic planning manager and climate survival advocate.