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By Ann McFeatters, Tribune News Service (TNS)

Don’t read this if you are among the few who have not been affected by this winter’s wild and wicked weather. You wouldn’t understand.

I am in my kitchen surrounded by pots and pans collecting water from leaks from the relatively new roof I recently paid off. The water is a disgusting shade of brown, of course, and can’t even be used for any good purpose.

But I am extremely grateful the roof itself has not caved in as so many have done in the Northeast.

I can’t drive my car to the grocery store because after I painstakingly dug it out of the snow, the county snowplow finally showed up and pushed the snow from the entire street in front of my carport. AAA cheerfully agrees it may be May before I drive that baby again.

But I am completely grateful that the power has stayed on, for the most part — unlike recent years, and there’s food in the freezer. And after letting water faucets drip through single-digit temperatures for four nights in a row, I am truly thrilled no pipes have burst that I know about. (I didn’t find out about last year’s damage until a spring thaw.)

Once again, I am mystified by climate change deniers, most of whom are rich or are paid vast sums to serve in Congress or are running for president. Some of them are so incredibly dense they say such things as, duh, there can’t be global warming when it’s so cold outside. Thus they tout their complete ignorance that climate change means more extreme weather patterns and long-term changes that will devastate huge populations.

Climate change doesn’t just mean we’re seeing record warm temperatures year after year. It also means breadbaskets will become arid deserts, coastal towns will flood, tornadoes and hurricanes and tsunamis will become more intense and dangerous.

The Washington Post had a story the other day about entire Alaskan villages being forced to move because disappearing ice caused by climate change will no longer support their decades-old lifestyles and threatens their existence. Who will pay the huge costs has not been determined.

There’s great consternation that President Obama has “vetoed” the Keystone XL pipeline that would bring oil from Canada to U.S. refineries. Supporters say this will block the creation of American jobs and thwart the goal of energy independence.

First of all, the veto does not mean the pipeline will never be built. It means that Obama wants the process to play out and doesn’t want Republicans in Congress pushing it through until all the studies have been done. Those may well conclude the pipeline will not create many permanent jobs, that a potential pipeline rupture could be devastating, that it might contribute to killing the ozone layer that has protected Earth from the Sun. Or they might not. As for energy independence, the United States is doing better and better on that front.

Not too long ago, climate change was accepted science on both sides of the aisle. Thanks to the bad influence of Tea Partiers, all the Republican candidates running or likely to run either deny climate change exists, say it’s an unsettled issue or admit it could be real but it’s too far in the future to change what we do today.

President Obama insists greenhouse gases especially from power plants must be reduced or future generations, including our children, will suffer greatly. His current budget proposal emphasizes fighting climate change, part of his hoped-for legacy, with the argument: “The failure to invest in climate solutions and climate preparedness does not just fly in the face of the overwhelming judgment of science — it is fiscally unwise.”

Republicans declared his budget dead on arrival.

This ongoing winter has been brutal, but as we shovel, mop and repair, a nagging thought occurs: We ain’t seen nuthin yet.

Ann McFeatters is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may send her email at amcfeatters@nationalpress.com.

Photo: Tim Wiseman walks to work on Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015 in Lexington, Ky. Most of Kentucky experienced subzero temperatures this morning. He said he left frozen pipes at home and was hoping his office was warmer. (Charles Bertram/Lexington Herald-Leader/TNS)

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