Last year, the U.S. Census found that Idaho is the second-fastest-growing state in the country. Additionally, Idaho was the first state to see job growth rates recover and even exceed pre-pandemic levels in almost all industries. The Idaho economy is known for being strong and resilient, primarily due to the abundance of natural resources essential to the Idahoan quality of life.
However, we know that the climate is changing and that these global changes will uniquely impact our state. Projected climatic changes include increasing temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and decreasing snowpack. More extreme floods, droughts, wildfires, and landslides are likely to occur. These events will impact Idaho’s major economic sectors from recreation and tourism to agriculture, energy, human health, infrastructure, and forests and rangelands.
For years, business leaders and policymakers have wanted to know the specific impacts of climate change on the state of Idaho. On December 14, The University of Idaho’s McClure Center for Public Policy Research released the Idaho Climate-Economy Impacts Assessment, which connects the latest scientific research on Idaho’s changing climate with economic risks and opportunities for the state.
The Idaho Climate-Economy Impacts Assessment is a nonpartisan, science-based resource for Idaho business leaders and policymakers to plan for a productive, prosperous and resilient Idaho economy in the face of a changing climate. The assessment will help industry leaders, land managers, and landowners adapt practices to lessen economic impacts from climate change and even increase profit under certain conditions.
We’ve already seen climate change impacts in Idaho. Boise, for example, had 12 consecutive days of over 100 degree temperatures and the hottest day on record at 107 degrees. Outbreaks of toxic algae were more widespread this year than ever before. The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality reported 24 health advisories in 12 counties for toxic algae, which is exacerbated by higher air and water temperatures. Idaho fire seasons have lengthened and blaze with greater intensity. Idaho ranked #2 in the nation for wildfire risk putting nearly half of all Idaho properties at risk. Earlier drying and snowmelt in Idaho has extended the fire season by roughly a month.
As ICL conducts an in-depth review of the assessment, we look forward to sharing the overlaps between the economic impacts discussed in the report and our own work on climate change in a series of blogs in January of the new year. Until then, you can take action by contacting your local decision-makers and let them know that you want them to take a stand for Idaho’s climate.