Voices from the Idaho EdNews Community

How is climate change affecting the wildlife in Idaho?


Misha Smith’s sixth-grade class at Hawthorne Elementary has been working on a year-long inquiry project where they chose to investigate the following question: How is climate change affecting the biodiversity of the Treasure Valley, and what can we do to reduce the negative effects? Her students spent the year learning about climate change and the impacts on Idaho through field trips, guest speakers, reading articles and reports, and studying charts and graphs.

Part of the inquiry process was to educate others by writing argumentative articles informing others about climate change in Idaho. Students peer reviewed each other’s papers and selected two to be shared with their school community, the newspapers, and our local legislators. Here is Chayton Welty’s article. 

This is a picture of snow on Galena Summit. The snowpack has been decreasing over the last 73 years up there.

What is Climate Change?

Climate change is the warming of the planet. Climate change is caused by the burning of fossil fuels and other gasses. These gasses are bad because they trap heat from the sun which is warming up the planet. Many things release CO2 and other greenhouse gasses like Methane into the atmosphere. You should care about climate change because eventually everything will die if we keep on doing what we are doing. Also if you don’t slow down climate change we will have less water and food in Idaho and in other high drought states. If we don’t slow down climate change, all of the keystone species could die within your lifetime.      

Climate change in Idaho: less water or drought

Look at this climate change chart, it shows how much drought they predict in the future. It also shows how much drought was in the past. The red lines are in the future and the blue ones are in the past. Climate source University of Idaho 

In the EPA article, “What Climate Change Means for Idaho” climate change is affecting drought by making us have more rain than snow.  In April the snowpack depth has been decreasing in Idaho. According to the EPA (Also called the United States Environmental Protection Agency), the snowpack has decreased since the 1950s. Many people think it has snowed plenty of inches yearly which means we will still have a ton of water when the snow melts. I disagree because even though it snows plenty per year, the snowpack has been decreasing overall which will lead to less water or drought.

Climate change in Idaho: Bark Beetles 

This picture shows where there are fires, insects and disease. The orange shows the fires and the brown shows the Insect and disease. The climate change source Fire Ecology

From this report by the University of Idaho, ” Idaho’s Economy and Climate Change” it says that climate change leads to forest disturbance such as wildfires and insect outbreaks. In recent decades, wildfires and bark beetle outbreaks have destroyed millions of acres in Idaho. A lot of people believe that the bark beetles are growing their own population, which is natural. I don’t disagree that bark beetles are growing population on their own, but climate change is making those populations much bigger, and their damage much worse. Once they infect an area of trees, those trees become fuel for forest fires.

What can our state government do to reduce climate change?

Even though climate change is affecting the planet, we can save it by making changes right now. The Idaho state government can control how much CO2 and other fossil fuels from farms and factories can be released into the air. The government can also make electricity more efficient. The state government can not control how much people drive but they can help by making cars more efficient and encouraging carpooling or use of public transportation. They can also plant more trees and native plants. 

What can citizens do about climate change?

What can you do to slow down climate change? Citizens like you can walk or bike somewhere instead of driving. They can also turn off or unplug things when they are done with it. Citizens can also put solar panels on top of their roof. They can even carpool when driving to school. Citizens can use screens less to save electricity. Take the quiz to see your climate impact at  Carbon Footprint Calculator.

Climate Pledge

In my lifetime I pledge to turn off things when I am done. I will walk or bike to school instead of driving. On cold mornings, I will take the bus instead of driving to school. When I am older, I will get a more efficient car. I will also not use screens as much. I will always encourage other people to do the same things as I do. So I hope that after reading this article you will do those things too.

Chayton Welty

Chayton Welty

Chayton Welty is a 6th grader at Hawthorne Elementary in Boise, Idaho. He likes to take pictures and explore nature.

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