AnalysisClimate Crisis

Idaho’s droughts, climate change and socialism

Recently, Idaho’s legislature voted to adopt science education standards that include man-made climate change.  Previously, there was no requirement to teach climate change in schools. The decision came after years of legislators trying to keep the topic out of Idaho schools altogether. Before these standards were adopted, Idaho was the only state that had removed all mention of man-made climate change from science education guidelines.

This vote comes at a time when only about 1 in 3 Idahoans believe that climate change will affect them personally, although the numbers are not much better around the country (35 percent in Idaho and 38 percent nationally).

However, climate change is already harming the people of the world, including those in Idaho.  Over the past 20 years, Idaho has been covered by statewide drought several times.. The occurrences of severe droughts in parts of the state have also increased. For instance, the number of emergency drought declarations issued by Idaho counties increased over 400 percent between 2010 and 2016, as compared with the amount issued from 1994-2000.

Other impacts of climate include the fact that all species of salmon that spawn in Idaho are either endangered or threatened. This is in part due to effects of climate change, as well as the affects of capitalist development.

Idaho also has a long history of flooding, with many areas having regular annual floods. Increases in the number and severity of both droughts and floods are expected worldwide with the progression of climate change. A 2016 EPA report confirmed that Idaho should not expect to escape the consequences of climate change: increased floods and droughts; endangerment and potential extinction of various species; and increased wildfires being just some of them.

One of the most important water resources in the state come from snowpacks in mountainous areas. Currently, the snow water equivalent of mountain snowpacks in the southern part of the state is anywhere from 39 to 80 percent of their 1981-2010 median.  This is in contrast to the snowpacks in the northern part of the state, where they are between 110 and 125 percent of their median. The implication here is that the southern part of the state will experience droughts, while the northern portion will be subject to floods.  Significant decline of snowpacks is occurring across the western states, and Idaho is definitely not an exception.20180305-Weekly-Snow-Map

Far more could be written about the negative effects of climate change in the state, but what is to be done about it? The problem is that we live in a capitalist society, where the hunger for profits overwhelms all other concerns, at the expense of the vast majority of the population. Capitalist governments have shown that they are unwilling and unable to address the causes and effects of global climate change. The recent Paris Accords have shown that the furthest that capitalists are willing to go is to put into place toothless regulations that allow polluters to continue destroying the planet.

For an example to the world on how to go about building an ecologically sustainable society, one need look no further than socialist Cuba. Recently, Cuba was found by the World Wildlife Foundation to have the best environmental footprint index rate in the world.  The index measures the level of human development in relation to the ecological footprint of various countries. Cuba has a good amount of human development, accompanied by a small ecological footprint per capita. This is in contrast to the capitalist countries of North America and Europe, whose ecological footprints are objectively unsustainable.

Cuba is able to do this for a few reasons. First of all out of necessity: Cuba has an immoral blockade imposed on it by the United States government, requiring the socialist government to do the most that it can for its people with a minimum amount of resources. Cuba also does this because it prioritizes the needs of people and the environment over profit, in stark contrast to the U.S. There is a nearly unlimited amount of problems that need to be addressed and solved, one of them being climate change. Capitalism will not even identify most of these problems, let alone begin to fix them. What is necessary for both the people of Idaho and Earth is the prioritization of people and the environment over profits, not the opposite. We need socialism!

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