[Illustrations, footnotes and references available in PDF version]
Summary for Policy Makers
The observations detailed herein illustrate that climate variability from year-to-year and decade-to-decade plays a greater role in Kentucky’s climate than any long-term trends. Such short-term variability will continue dominating Kentucky’s climate into the future. At the century timescale, Kentucky’s climate shows no statically significant trend in statewide average annual temperature, and a weak tendency towards increasing statewide total annual precipitation and decreases in the frequency and/or severity of droughts. Cleary, in Kentucky over the course of the past century or so, local and regional processes have been more important than global ones in determining local climate and local climate variations and changes. The same is true for extreme weather and weather-related events—tornadoes, wildfires, and floods show no trends that could be related to “global warming,” instead, as history shows, these types of events have marked Kentucky’s past, and will continue to occur into the future. And climate change is shown to have little, if any, detectable impacts on the overall health of Kentucky’s population. Instead, application of direct measures aimed at combating the negative impacts of heat waves and vector-borne diseases prove far and away to be the most efficient and effective methods at improving the public health.
Further, no action by Kentucky will have any detectable effect on the future rate of global climate change and/or its impacts on the climate of Kentucky, yet legislative actions to reduce carbon dioxide emissions will negatively impact the state’s economic future. This is an all pain, no gain scenario for the citizens of Kentucky.