Guest Opinions

Yes, Virginia, and Idaho — there is climate change

Temperatures hit 120 degrees in June in Phoenix, Arizona.
Temperatures hit 120 degrees in June in Phoenix, Arizona. AP

Driving down the street the other day I saw a glossy poster in a store window that read, “Believe!” Of course I thought of Christmas, but didn’t know if the poster meant believe in Christ, believe in Santa Claus, or just believe in general because believing was good for you.

I know one frigid New Year’s Day my kids were desperate to believe they could slide across the frozen Bruneau River. School was out and we all had cabin fever so we decided to go adventuring down in Bruneau Canyon. Though the river was iced over and plenty shallow, their dreams of gliding and sliding were suddenly shattered when the thin ice gave below my daughter’s feet. Fortunately my husband wore an extra layer of long johns and was willing to trade those out for her cold, wet ski pants.

Some things are easier to believe in than others. We all expect it to be cold in December and January. It’s winter after all. Just like summers should be hot. It’s the way the seasons roll here in Idaho. It’s our expectation, and to think otherwise almost goes against our beliefs. It’s not only threatening, but unheard of. It actually takes an act of faith or belief to envision a world with a winter season so mild it could be spring and a summer so hot the land would become uninhabitable.

Sadly, that’s exactly what climate scientists are predicting. According to National Geographic, within as few as 80 years parts of southern Asia and the Middle East will be uninhabitable because it will be so hot. But all that seems so far away, in terms of both time and distance from Boise, Idaho. I’d have to suspend disbelief for years before any of that would happen in some Middle Eastern town like, say, Bethlehem.

Phoenix, Arizona, however, is a lot closer to Boise. Phoenix normally has very hot summers. Friends tell me during the summer months in Phoenix they live between their air-conditioned homes, their air-conditioned cars, and their air-conditioned places of work. Unbelievably, June 2017 temperatures were so hot in Phoenix, 120 degrees, the air terminal canceled more than 50 flights and planes were grounded.

So what’s the climate forecast for Phoenix? Meteorologists say Phoenix is the fastest-warming big city in the U.S. They’re predicting that by 2050, Phoenix’s number of 100-degree days will jump from 40 to 132. That’s more than four months of 100 degree-plus weather. Now, that’s hard to believe.

Especially at this time of year I’m glad I live in the Northwest, home of all things winter: glaciated mountain peaks, skiing and, yes, even skating. But winter can’t come quick enough this year. The Idaho Statesman reported that July 2017 was the second hottest month ever recorded in Boise.

Admittedly, it’s more pleasant to believe in the magic of the holiday season than a world grappling with climate change — but wise men believe, wise men know.

Diana Hooley lives in Boise.

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