Blog notes from the Idaho Climate Summit’s Boise location, Nov 16-17, 2017
by Graham Zickefoose
Idaho Public Radio
State Capitol Bureau
Starting off the 2017 Idaho Climate Summit on Thursday morning, the keynote speaker encouraged Idaho businesses to take risks on investing in renewable energy resources in order to combat climate change and stay competitive in the global economy.
Keynote speaker Kate Gordon, Senior Advisor at the Paulson Institute and Founding Director of the Risky Business Project, praised the economic advantages that the Northwest US has in renewable energy, such as a reliance on hydroelectricity and geothermal power.
Following Gordon’s address, Heather Kimmel, Executive Director of the American Lung Association in Idaho, and Bryant Kuechle, the Northwest Area Manager for the Langdon Group, gave a presentation on how rising temperatures are affecting water, land, and human health. They explained that the duration of the fire season has increased over time, going from 5 months to 7 months from the 1970s until now as a result of increasing temperatures, and how water temperatures in rivers have risen for the same reason.
Rising temperatures are a problem for businesses that rely on cool temperatures in the rivers, such as trout hatcheries.
The impacts on human health from climate change have ranged from exacerbation of existing heart and lung conditions from wildfire smoke to an increase in susceptibility to West Nile Virus a few years ago, since mosquitoes have benefitted from increased temperatures.
After the presentation, there were panel discussions on the effects of drought and increased water temperatures, and the impact of wildfires on Idaho’s environment, as well as possible ways to combat both problems.
Panelists discussed energy efficient methods for cooling down rivers by planting trees along the river, preventing power lines from being affected by wildfires by removing vegetation beneath the poles, and fueling hydroelectric generation through cloud seeding.
Other discussions topics included wildfire prevention on rangeland and methods for making water usage more efficient.
The second day of the summit on Friday began with panel discussions as well, which focused more on business opportunities and innovations in the face of climate change, and presenters included representatives from Clif Bar & Company, the J.R. Simplot Company and Hewlett Packard.
Representatives shared ways in which they had developed business plans that were more environmentally friendly and resource efficient.
Both days concluded with breakout sessions over various topics relating to Idaho businesses and climate change, which went on into the evenings.
(Graham Zickefoose, reporting and photos)
Posted November 18, 2017