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Newspaper Series Offers Glimpse into How Idaho Leaders View Climate Change

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A collaborative series of articles by four Idaho newspapers featured a healthy helping of Idaho climate change information – especially as viewed through the eyes of decision makers and other interests that often dominate the climate debate in our state and who also view accepted climate science with skepticism if not denial.

The six-day series was produced by the Idaho Statesman, the Twin Falls Times-News, the Lewiston Tribune, and the Idaho Falls Post Register. Series installments included whether Idaho could be a refuge for businesses in a changing climate; how climate change could alter Idaho agriculture; how changing climate will affect how Idaho gets electricity; the effects on fish, wildlife and the economies that depend on them; how the climate is shaping our range, forests and fires; and how Idaho political leaders are responding.

One of the most startling (and now most-quoted) installments in the newspaper series explored how climate change is understood (or not) in the Idaho Legislature. Reporter Bryan Clark of the Post Register starts his installment in the series like this:

Idaho Falls – “Listen to Rush Limbaugh once in a while,” Rep. Dell Raybould said. “See what he thinks about it. He’ll tell you that this is just a bunch of nonsense.”

Raybould was talking about the idea that burning fossil fuel causes climate change. The Rexburg Republican is chairman of the House Resources and Conservation Committee and the Legislature’s expert on water issues. Climate change skepticism is fairly common in Idaho, especially among its elected lawmakers…

The newspapers’ climate change reporting project included other alarming observations, such as how Idaho agriculture may in fact benefit from climate change, which sounds like a good deal if not for the other climate change impacts that scientific consensus shows will also displace hundreds of millions of people worldwide, unleash runaway diseases and species extinctions, and otherwise upend Earth’s life-support mechanisms.

In fairness, the newspapers and their print and photography journalists reporting the climate series left no doubt that climate change is a serious threat that demands immediate attention. But as you’ll see from another Idaho Energy Update item below regarding public opinions on climate change in Idaho and nationwide, there’s no question there’s a widening gulf between how Idahoans understand these complicated climate issues and how those they elect to represent them do not.

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