Kentucky’s Floods More Evidence of Climate’s Jet Stream Impacts

August 1, 2022

A lot of schadenfreude going around about Appalachian residents getting hammered by recent climate-enhanced flooding, which is understandable. But also, probably counterproductive.

Point well taken, but how to get people to understand and make this a teachable moment? Recent experience, sadly, indicates that many folks refuse to review their priors even in the face of overwhelming evidence, and their own intense suffering.

Courtney Lucas in The Washington Post:

The disaster here in eastern Kentucky was like nothing I’d ever seen before — but some of the online response to it was depressingly familiar. “These people got what they voted for,” said one post. “Elect a turtle, learn to swim,” read another. “Maybe it’s God’s punishment for being a bastion of ignorance and regression.” Or, my personal favorite, “What are those houses doing there along the river in the first place?”

I scrolled through social-media post after social-media post of self-proclaimed Democrats, liberals and leftists declaring the flood some kind of punishment for the Republican-controlled state that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell calls home. Whenever a natural disaster occurs in Kentucky, as with the tornados that ripped through the western part of the state in 2021, killing more than 70 people, I see online derision about climate-change-denying Republicans or just about general Republican corruption.

Meanwhile, on Facebook, my friends and acquaintances shared images of the devastation — families stranded on rooftops, a bedridden person awaiting rescue in a bedroom filling with brown water, lost pets, found pets — and desperate pleas for help escaping the rising waters or contacting missing loved ones. At least 25 people have died, and more rain is coming.

I support the Black Lives Matter movement, abortion rights, same-sex marriage — all the things good Democrats are supposed to support. I have also always been an Appalachian, a part of my identity that I cherish. I was born and raised in Pikeville, as were my parents, my grandparents and many generations before them.

This week, when I saw two very different stories about the flooding unfold on social media, I wondered if I was an “us” or a “them,” if I should stand with my party or my people. Democrats often justifiably accuse Republicans of choosing party over people. You don’t have to look hard for examples — in mid-July, it was Rep. Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania voting against federal protections for same-sex marriage and then three days later attending his son’s same-sex wedding.

Democrats tend to view themselves as being above such behavior. But what I saw on social media suggests that more than a few can’t put people before party even when lives are in danger.


3 Responses to “Kentucky’s Floods More Evidence of Climate’s Jet Stream Impacts”

  1. Ron Benenati Says:

    well, I don;t support the shame thing as a form of “teaching moment.”
    That said, at least they didn’t blame same sex or interracial marriage, etc as we have heard so often from the christian right.
    Personally, I think it was retribution for reversing Roe vs Wade.
    Levity… it’s all I have left

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      When trouble hits politically blue areas, God’s newest motivation is trans people and Drag Queen story hour.

  2. mbrysonb Says:

    Doubling down on identity issues (with resulting self-harm) is a deep-seated human pattern. Aristotle was wrong when he categorized human beings as ‘the rational animal’.

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