"My perspective as a climatologist is that climate by in large determines a lot of the cultural elements that sort of define a region."

Dr. John Abatzoglou mentions how climate influences a region culturally and what kind of impacts climate change would have on Eastern Idaho's society.

He continues, "And so that sort of, what are some of the worst case scenarios, Depends a little bit on your predisposition to impacts. For, I think, for the Northwest though and Idaho included right, its the reduction in water availability the likes which we haven't seen recently. So its thinking about the future where we're going to have prolonged droughts, where the snowpack is going to melt out that much earlier."

But drought won't be the only thing that would affect us in Eastern Idaho.

As Alex DeSmet tells us, "There is no specific studies that can attribute a specific event to climate change but there are studies that suggest that extreme weather and continued extremes are attributed to climate change, so more extremes of heavy precipitation events, more drought on the opposite end of the spectrum, more heat waves, and more cold snaps so all of the above."

Extremes that can affect our precipitation and water storage.

A lack of water in the state can impact the natural resource industry which can hurt the pockets of many Idaho families.

Dr. Charlie Luce answers that, "The size of that industry sector that we call natural resources economics, those economic activities that very strongly depend on climate and weather. So, agriculture which we've been discussing, and just all the table shows or the graph shows is how big that industry is, millions to billions across the three northwest states."

The other main industries included would be outdoor recreation, and forest management.

During drought years adding excessive heat can not only lead to water shortages for the natural resources industry but also increase fire weather conditions.

And as many have seen in Idaho this can really change our landscape for years.

Dr. Sean Parks, research ecologist for the U.S. Forest service, tells us this change can become more permanent in a warming climate.

"We're seeing warming right and so when we have warming two things happen. First of all, we have an increased presence in high severity or standard placement fire and we also see situations in which the seedlings that were there have a bit more difficult time establishing and surviving, and so if the seedlings can't establish and survive we end up seeing and we expect to see changes in forest type."

Turning lands that were previously forests into grass and shrub lands.

This could again impact outdoor recreation, not only hiking but recreational and subsistence hunting.

As Dr. Luce explains,

"We're seeing the bigger fires which are changing a lot of the recreation opportunities, both in terms of backpacking through forests versus backpacking through burned areas, changes peoples enjoyment of the scenery to some extent. So with more wildfires comes more brush, which is great habitat for a number of Ungulates like elk and deer and their winters will be less challenging which is usually the season that we lose a lot of them. So it might mean there's not only more opportunity for hunting but a much greater need for hunting to keep those populations in check."

And while this change may not seem terrible for hunters, we must keep in mind that with greater prey populations also means an increase in their predators, posing a risk for livestock.

While not all changes may be bad in a warming climate.

They do come with consequences that can affect thousands of Idahoans.

From agriculture to food processing and storage industry and it's many jobs to forestry and forest management, and even to outdoor recreation and the guide industry.

These are our neighbors, our friends, our family that could be impacted down the road in a warming and changing climate.

For more information on climate change and its impacts you can read more in the National Climate Assessment, NASA's climate change website, and The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

For additional information on climate change, click here to access Climate Central's website.


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