Condescending on Kentucky.

Author:Berry, Wendell
Position:WE HEAR YOU - Letter to the editor

For his article, "Coal and Climate Change in Kentucky" (February issue), Tanner Cole went to Bedford, the seat of Trimble County, Kentucky. What attracted Mr. Cole were two statistics: Of all the counties in the United States, Trimble "has the lowest percentage of people--43 percent--who believe in climate change," and "about 73 percent" of its people voted for Donald Trump. When he popped into Bedford, there they were: two of the expected disbelievers, at least one of whom is an avowed Trumpian. Mr. Cole says little about them beyond comparing their backward views with the views of "scientists." He later glances at Martin County, where "the mountain folk who live under poverty levels and ignore modern science are firmly attached to the ... coal industry."

Mr. Cole says nothing about the economic history of Trimble County, and he associates Martin County only generally and vaguely with the economic history of its region. A reporter who bothered to learn those two very different histories might have something truly clarifying and useful to say. I will limit myself to just one issue.

The height from which Mr. Cole condescends to Trimble and Martin Counties is "belief in climate change." In his view, people who believe in climate change rank much higher in virtue and intelligence than people who do not. But what is meant by "belief" in climate change? For most people, and not just the ignorant and backward, that belief is about equivalent to belief in the resurrection of the body. It is a matter of trust. I, for example, "believe" in climate change because I trust...

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