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Kentucky Death Toll Rising: Is Climate Change the Culprit

Hundreds missing and more rain and heat are expected.

Two one in one thousand year rain events hit Kentucky and Louisiana causing death and devastation yet we still have those seemingly devoid of common sense putting the profit margins of the one percent before the importance of human lives. According to the Washington Post “First, a record-breaking deluge engulfed St. Louis on Tuesday, killing one person. Then, Wednesday night, eastern Kentucky bore the brunt of a second onslaught of high water that swamped entire communities. At least 100 people have died, hundreds are missing and the toll is expected to rise.” Kentucky’s Governor Andy Beshear says he expects things to get much worse, more rain is expected and they will be finding bodies for weeks, despite over 700 rescues!

Due to thousands of people still not having power and hot days in the forecast, the Governor announced several cooling centers are now open. Temperatures in the region Wednesday and Thursday will climb into the 90s, and because of the humidity it will feel close to 100 degrees, CNN meteorologists say. The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for the area from noon Wednesday to 8 p.m. Thursday.

According to CNN “The disaster also knocked out essential power and water utilities, which repair crews have been struggling to restore because of dangerous conditions and washed-out roads. More than 5,600 customers in eastern Kentucky were still without power Tuesday evening, according to” Jonathan Overpeck, an earth and environmental sciences professor at the University of Michigan, explained that "because human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels have significantly warmed the atmosphere in recent years, the atmosphere now holds more moisture than it used to. As a result, whenever rainfall occurs, it is more drastic."

“This means the risk of flooding is going up dramatically over much of the planet where people live, and Kentucky is one of those places. The evidence is clear that climate change is a growing problem for Kentucky and the surrounding region – more floods like this week, and more floods when wetter tropical storms track north over the state,” Overpeck told Inside Climate News.

Volatile weather conditions have forced farmers to change their farming methods and routines. One method now in use is no-till farming, a technique used to address soil erosion that washes away the topsoil that supports plant growth and helps to retain moisture during long periods of drought.“ We’ve gone from tilling the soil up and making the soil real loose to no-till farming, which basically drills the seed into the ground without having to work the soil up to save the moisture in the ground to prevent moisture loss and soil erosion,” one Kentucky farmer said.


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