Idahoans are a diverse group-we’re made up of conservationists, entrepreneurs, farmers and ranchers, hunters, anglers, recreationists, conservatives, liberals, you name it! Yet despite the diversity in our ideologies, Idahoans can agree that we love the climate here.

You’re probably wondering how I can so confidently make such a blanket statement, right? Well, it’s simple:  Idaho’s climate is why we enjoy such a great quality of life.  This very climate has given us cold mountain streams to wade and fish, habitable forests where we can recreate, and a dependable snowpack that stores water for use  later in the year, often for agriculture  throughout Idaho. Who wouldn’t love all that?

But things are changing.  Like any romantic duo, we Idahoans must decide whether we’re  going to grow with climate change for a prosperous future or whether we’ll grow apart, fostering uncertain times ahead. To continue with the romantic theme, I’ll pose this question, “What’s the first step to resolving any conflict in a relationship?” You guessed it-communication!

Communication Is Key

Earlier this year, Idaho Rep. Ilana Rubel (D-Boise) requested an informational hearing on climate change in the Legislature. Her request was rebuffed  by chairs of the germane committees. Unfortunately, choosing not to talk about a problem doesn’t mean it ceases to exist. In fact, sticking our heads in the sand  usually just makes the matter  worse.

In addition, this denial goes against the fact that Idahoans overwhelmingly agree  that climate change is real and we must  prepare. For those who are ready to take on the challenge of climate change, Rep. Rubel has organized a public hearing  to discuss what’s happening now, what’s ahead, and what we can all do. The event  is scheduled for Wednesday, March 15, 3:30-5:30 pm, at the Capitol. If you can, plan to come and hear presentations from experts working right here in Idaho about  climate change and the effects it’s already having to our state.

Who Should Care?

In short, all Idahoans should care about climate change. We are already being affected by a changing climate in Idaho-and the impacts will increase. Consider just a few examples:

  • Taxpayers are already paying more for larger and longer fire seasons.
  • The outdoor recreation industry, which depends on healthy streams and forests, is a $6.3 billion industry in Idaho and generates 77,000 jobs for Idahoans.
  • Farmers may have to change  crops to plant to adapt to changes in water availability and temperature cycles.
  • Hunters and anglers could see native habitat become unsuitable for certain species.
  • Recreationists could see favorite trails and  camping spots disappear in wildfires.

It’s not all doom and gloom. The good news is that we can work together to do something about the changing climate. In fact, we are already seeing some major steps in the right direction. Renewable energy development continue to outpace fossil fuel additions to the grid. Also, a coal-fired power plant in Nevada, partly owned by Idaho Power and providing electricity to Idaho residents, will be shut down 10 years earlier than previously planned to reduce pollution.

While both of these are great news, we can-and should-do more, not only statewide, but also in our own homes and communities!  Come to Rep. Rubel’s public hearing  on climate change to learn more about what’s at stake in Idaho’s and what you can do to make a difference.