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Assessment Details Changing Climate's Effects on ID Economy


Tuesday, January 18, 2022   

A new report analyzes the economic effects of a changing climate on Idaho. It's the first to look at state-specific circumstances.

Katherine Himes is director of the University of Idaho's James A. and Louise McClure Center for Public Policy Research, which compiled the research. Himes said the goal was to create a nonpartisan, evidence-based resource for industries and policymakers.

"The big key here is those changes - temperature, precipitation and snowpack," said Himes, "because that then influences what happens to agriculture, energy, forests, human health, infrastructure, rangelands, recreation and tourism."

On the current climate-warming trajectory, increasing temperature, changing patterns of precipitation across the state and lower snowpack are expected in the coming decades for Idaho.

An advisory board for the report included businesses, nonprofits and government officials, including Native American tribal leaders.

Kelly Olson is a retired administrator for the Idaho Barley Commission. She said the report allows sectors of the economy such as agriculture to prepare for the future.

"It's a call to arms, I think," said Olson, "as a state to look at that changing water situation and what we can do about that, which we just can't turn on a spigot and change the flow of water overnight."

Himes said it's important that this resource is accessible. She said there's technical information but it also includes one-page summaries with high-level looks at the data.

"There are ways to visualize the information, a lot of tools and resources on the website as well," said Himes. "We wanted it to be as interactive as possible so that policymakers could use it, decision makers could use it, and so forth."

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