Coal and climate change in Kentucky.

Author:Cole, Tanner

The small front office of Trimble County High School is crowded. Eleven people stand in the doorway, letting in the cool morning air. The Lady Raiders are the district and regional basketball champions, and now they're going for the state title. The people in line are waiting to buy the last five available tickets to tomorrow's game, and some will be leaving unsatisfied.


Just down the road, the tellers at Bedford Loan and Deposit Bank welcome their first clients of the day. Of those with bank accounts in Bedford, Kentucky, at least 80 percent bank here, according to its vice president Deanna Ralston. "But a lot of people here are on fixed incomes," Ralston says with a frown. "And they don't bank with anyone."

At the town community center, Bedford City Clerk Rita Davis sits on the far side of a welcome window. She has a "Pennies for Puppies" can set out with a pixelated photo of a dog taped on. Her gray-and-white shirt matches her hair.

"The kids used to come down to the community center all the time," Davis says, flipping through a phone book and rolling her eyes. "But now they've got those computers and phones. I don't know what they do anymore. But they don't come down here." The kids get older and they move, she says. They're not coming back

The door behind Davis reads, "Todd Pollock, Mayor." She describes him as a politician. She says "politician" like it's a dirty word.

Out of every county in the nation, Trimble County, Kentucky, has the lowest percentage of people--43 percent--who believe in climate change, according to a 2015 Yale study. About 73 percent voted for Donald Trump.


Pollock, the town's mayor since 2014, is a sturdy-looking man with a large forehead. He backed Trump for President and tweets using the hashtag #SmallTownMayorSupportsTrump. He describes local residents as genuine, caring, and family oriented. It doesn't surprise him that most don't believe in climate change.

"Global warming?" he says from a round table in the community center's gathering room. "I don't believe it's settled. There is a change, but is it manmade or is it just the natural evolution of things? That I don't think is quite determined."

At Pollock's side sits Hilda Parrish, president of the Trimble County Historical Society. She isn't originally from Trimble and says that makes her an outsider, despite having lived here for a decade. While working to be accepted, Parrish learned all about the county's history.

She tells how Bedford residents once rolled a church through town using logs. She solemnly recounts the Great Flood of 1937, which devastated the northern half of the county and had residents paddling rowboats to escape their rooftops. Scientists say climate change will lead to the Ohio River flooding worse and more often, but Hilda doesn't believe the climate is changing.

"I have farming journals from a farmer that lived here in the county' she says. "I have them from 1909 through 1943. I've looked at those, I've looked at the day temperatures and looked at the overall temperatures. There is no global warming."

About 97 percent of scientists agree that climate change is happening and is extremely likely due to human activity. They say looking at local temperatures and finding similar highs and lows over time is not scientifically valid. But it is valid enough for Parrish.

"If there is global warming, it is creeping up very slowly' she says. "And we can't change what God wants done."

An hour west of Bedford, in Louisville, Dr. Keith Mountain clutches a paperback book. He is a formidable-looking man with a heavy build and thin, graying hair. And he's gripping the book as though he wants to tear it in half.

The book is Steve Goreham's The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism: Mankind and Climate Change Mania, which takes a gleefully skeptical view of climate science. The cover depicts polar bears driving around in a convertible with the roof down. The book has been lambasted for Goreham's falsified sourcing and scientific ignorance. Mountain says he threw it across the room the first time he began reading it, after a copy arrived in his mailbox.

"These groups do not do any first-hand...

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