Kansas City’s new ‘environmental justice’ law may mean only the rich have air conditioning

In 1936, Kansas City endured 53 days with temperatures 100 degrees or above. The high temperature that summer was 113 degrees. 

Locals were getting used to the hot weather, as 1934 was the hottest year in American history and Kansas City caught the brunt of it. The high temperature that year was 111. The heat and drought of that era helped spawn the massive dust storms that swept the heartland and pushed all the way through to the East Coast.

Had the city council of Kansas City, Missouri, passed a Climate Protection & Resiliency Plan (CPRP) in 1936, one could understand their motivation. There was a climate crisis. People were dying of heat exhaustion.

At the time, almost no one had air conditioning. On the hottest nights, locals slept in city parks by the thousands to find some relief from the heat. For outlying residents of the region, the dust was even harder to escape.

Yet, it was not until last week that the city council passed the CPRP. Easily. The vote was 11-1.

As shall be seen, however, several of the coalition members that prodded the city council to pass the CPRP may not understand what they have gotten into.

In the name of “environmental justice,” they could be condemning their constituents to a future with no more relief from the summer heat than there had been in 1936 – less, actually, as the city parks are no longer the sanctuary they once were.

The timing of the CPRP’s passage was not to the activists’ advantage: If the forecast holds, Kansas City will not have had a single day over 100 degrees this year.

That is not the anomaly it might appear to be. Kansas City has not had a day over 100 in the last 10 years. In seven of the eight previous years, the temperature did not even reach 100. In 2020 – the year Kansas City set a new record for homicides – the temperature never got above 94. That was an anomaly. In the 100 previous years, only one year had a lower high temperature.

“Climate change,” we are told, encompasses a range of extreme weather conditions, not just temperature – tornados, for instance. Here, too, the news will not make climate alarmists happy.

As FOX Weather reports, “Kansas is in the middle of a drought that they wouldn’t mind lasting forever: A tornado drought.” In the past three years, there has been only one tornado of EF2 strength or higher, the quietest three-year tornado count in the past 40 years. As to floods, Kansas City has not had a catastrophic one on the Missouri since 1951.

Although hurricanes are not much of an issue in the Kansas City region, after Katrina in 2005 the United States experienced an unprecedented “hurricane drought.” And as the Washington Post laments, August is about to pass without a single named storm despite “forecasts for a busy season.”

Yes, “weather” is not the same as “climate,” but the repeated failure of climate scientists to predict the near future makes it much harder for activists to sell an impending apocalypse.

Just in case the weather does get hotter or colder or wetter or drier, Kansas City will be prepared. No, I take that back. It won’t be. The recently passed CPRP does nothing to protect city residents from climate extremes.

Rather, it aims to protect the world from the “dirty” energy now produced by Evergy, the regional producer of electricity, and Spire, the regional producer of natural gas. So argued Laela Zaidi, a leader with Sunrise Movement Kansas City. The 22-year-old boasted that the CPRP represented just a first step toward “even bolder, intersectional climate action.”

According to the Sierra Club, the CPRP calls for Evergy to retire its Hawthorn coal plant by 2025 and all its coal plants by 2030. The CPRP also calls for the creation of an environmental justice advisory committee.

Sooner or later, however, the climate alarmists and the environmental justice people are going to butt heads.

In 2021, coal provided 74 percent of Missouri’s electricity net generation. Only West Virginia used proportionately more coal. Missouri’s reliance on coal has resulted in relatively low consumer energy costs over the years. The greener activists, however, do not care about costs. They care about the future of the world, at least they profess to.

The less-informed activists seem to have convinced themselves that carbon dioxide is a pollutant. It is not. It is the food of life. It feeds our plants and forests and our oceans. Yes, human activity has increased the percentage of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere by 50% over the last 200 years, but even today CO2 makes up only .03 percent of that atmosphere.

If my math is right, metro Kansas City makes up roughly .00015% of Earth’s land mass.

Do the math. Were the city to shut down all power sources tomorrow to address what the Sierra Club calls “a climate crisis,” Earth would not notice.

The residents of Kansas City certainly would. In Kansas City today, almost as many people have air conditioning as have cable TV. Even in a relatively cool cycle, Kansas City is hot in the summer. No one will want to give his or her AC up.

If the city is to meet its goals, however, the least affluent residents may have to, as the price of energy will definitely go up. The bolder the “intersectional climate action,” the more expensive the energy.

At least some of the coalition members will be surprised.

“This is a huge win for our kids and gives me peace of mind as a parent that our leaders are taking bold action to protect our children,” said Ilyssa Block, team leader with Mothers Out Front Kansas City. Ms. Block will have less peace of mind when she sees her future electric bills.

Beto Lugo Martinez, co-director of CleanAirNow, is somehow under the impression that the CPRP will prevent “overburdened communities” from being used as “sacrifice zones.” If his allies have their way, he may soon find out what the words “overburdened” and “sacrifice” really mean.

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