Louisville Courier Journal
Published 4:34 PM EST Jan 13, 2020
If you came to Kentucky from a coastal state hoping to put off feeling the effects of climate change, you have our deepest sympathies.
A new study from SafeHome.org ranks Kentucky as No. 9 among the worst states for climate change. Yikes.
Of the five risk factors measured — extreme heat, drought, inland flooding, wildfires and coastal flooding — Kentucky had four, only escaping coastal flooding.
The research, based on data from Climate Central, found that Kentucky's mosquito season has increased by 22 days, 3.37% of its population is vulnerable to extreme heat, 3.6% of the population is at risk for inland flooding and 33.7% is at risk for wildfire.
By 2050, it will have 72 dangerous heat days, a 95% increase in summer drought and 14 more days at risk for wildfires, the study found.
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Not surprisingly, Florida ranked as the most at-risk state, followed by South Carolina and Louisiana. But contrary to what you might think, California came after Kentucky at No. 10.
Indiana, Kentucky's geographical neighbor, ranked No. 23.
The only landlocked state besides Kentucky in the top 10 at-risk states was Arkansas, the study found. The northeast corner of the country had mostly low-risk, with Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts taking the top 3 for low-risk. The South's average score per state is 229, and the nationwide average is 174.
"We are seeing real-world impacts of climate change nearly every day," the study said. "Among the most dramatic recent examples are the devastating brushfires that have torn through Australia."
Those fires, "which have consumed millions of acres and killed at least two dozen people and countless animals, were spurred largely by extreme heat and prolonged drought — Australia surpassed its record high temperature twice in December 2019 alone."
Reach breaking news reporter Sarah Ladd at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @ladd_sarah. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: courier-journal.com/subscribe.