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Avoiding next year’s October heat wave

Bowling Green weather forgot that October is supposed to be cold, but the sweltering average temperature of 83 degrees Fahrenheit through mid-October shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Kentucky average temperatures have increased since the 1960s largely due to climbing carbon dioxide emissions, which 97 percent of climate scientists agree is the leading factor in global warming. Yes, the globe is warming and humans are very likely responsible. Although many of the effects of climate change are difficult to predict and seem far-off, immediate change is needed on local and global scales to prevent the worst of what is to come.

First off, many skeptics of climate change argue that the varying energy output of the sun is the main cause of global warming. However, the average amount of energy from the sun has remained virtually constant since 1750. Thus, the globe warming 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit since the 19th century is probably from humans burning fossil fuels—adding billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the air and oceans. CO2 levels are higher now than at any point in at least the past 800,000 years.


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report, drawn from over 6,000 scientific references, earlier this October warning policy makers that dramatic changes are needed to keep global temperatures from rising 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Failure to heed this warning will increase instances of severe “weather, droughts, floods, sea level rise and biodiversity loss, and cause unprecedented risks to vulnerable persons and populations,” according to the report.  

One of the most concerning effects, rising sea level, has already impacted us. Nuisance flooding, which leads to public inconveniences like road closures, is estimated to be 900 percent more frequent in U.S. coastal communities than just 50 years ago, according to the National Ocean Service.

Queensland Museum’s website reports that coral reefs, vital to the ocean’s ecosystem, are already dying in droves, and they will be virtually extinct if global warming hits the 2 degree Celsius mark.

Vulnerable and poor people across the globe face the greatest risk from climate change because they are often dependent on agriculture.

Kentucky is expected to experience more severe droughts, more days of extreme heat, more severe flooding, reduced agricultural production (especially with corn), depleted aquatic ecosystems due to more algal blooms and limited fish populations, and more health problems related to heat‐stroke, dehydration, and smog.

Clearly, action is needed to curb these effects. So, what can you do about any of this? Vote for candidates that support transitioning towards a greener economy. The future lies in renewable energies like wind, solar, geothermal and biomass that will reduce humans’ carbon footprint.

You can personally help by being a more conscious consumer. Yes, meat and milk are delicious, but buying them less frequently will help reduce carbon emissions. Also, changing your lightbulbs, putting up solar panels, using less water, and recycling are all important steps toward the solution. Be skeptical about your everyday actions. They matter. Be the change you want to see in the world.

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Avoiding next year’s October heat wave