Some politicians may be trying to hide from climate change, but Idahoans are not.
Last week, more than 650 people attended a hearing in the Idaho capitol about how Idaho’s climate is changing and how Idahoans are taking action.
Hearing about Climate Change
The message was loud and clear-a changing climate threatens the Idaho we love, so Idahoans are taking action today. Professors from Boise State and the University of Idaho spoke about their research documenting climate change in Idaho-higher temperatures, more rain and less snow, changing timing of the seasons, increased forest fires-all of which affect our economy and quality of life. One of their messages is that people and business across Idaho recognize this change and are looking for answers.
Other presenters put a human face on the problem and solution. We heard from fire officials talking about the need to increase fire budgets, based on what they are seeing on the fire lines-bigger fires that are more difficult to manage and contain. A local installer of solar power systems talked about his growing business and the potential for more high paying jobs in clean energy. Leaders from the faith community reminded us of our moral obligation to care for each other and future generations by reducing climate pollution. Students talked about the need for high-quality science education so they are employable and, more importantly, so they can invent new ways to address climate change.
Changing the Response
We can make changes in Idaho by building on this hearing. Each of us can act in three areas to make change-at home, in our community and with our representatives.
Each of us make choices every day about how much climate pollution we contribute. Around half of Idaho’s electricity comes from fossil fuels. Lights and heating use the most energy at home. So by switching five light bulbs to LEDs and moving the thermostat by just a degree or two, you can reduce carbon pollution. Join ICL’s #Greentips challenge to learn more.
In Your Community
Raising awareness about climate change and ways we can respond areessential. Host a dinner party or cocktail hour with your neighbors to show off your new light bulbs or your best vegetarian recipe. Knowing that friends and neighbors take the issue seriously helps build a climate community.
In Your State
Contacting your state and federal representatives is essential to letting them know that Idahoans care about climate and clean air. At the state level, tell your representative that protecting public lands is critical to ensure that wildlife has room to adapt. At the federal level, tell your representatives to protect the Environmental Protection Agency grants to states to protect air and water quality, and maintain the appliance and vehicle efficiency standards.
Our state may not be planning for climate change, but several entities active in Idaho are:
- The Nature Conservancy recently mapped habitats across our region that can serve as refuges for plants and wildlife as the climate changes. These maps help inform decision makers about areas to protect and connect.
- Several Idaho tribes and national forests have conducted or are preparing to conduct a climate change vulnerability assessment. This important work helps communities identify risks and take proactive steps to protect and grow. Idaho city, county and state officials should do the same exercise.
Finally, in case you missed it or simply want to hear it again, you can listen to the audio archive of the climate change hearing sponsored by Rep. Ilana Rubel that filled an auditorium plus three overflow rooms.