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POCATELLOâ€”A group of students and concerned citizens gathered at the Idaho State University quad on Tuesday to hear local leaders, rancher, scientists and educators speak about climate change in Idaho. The event titled: "Time To Act, Idaho: A Climate Change Event" was hosted by a coalition of scientists, business and community leaders to help raise awareness of the impacts of extreme weather, drought and the impact on Idaho's economy and natural resources.
James Ruchti, former member of the Idaho House of Representatives addressed the crowd about east Idaho's drought emergencies, unpredictable frost, floods and the hotter, faster wild fires in the past few years.
"These are issues that affect each of us. It is essential that we take action now to help cutback on the carbon emissions," he said.
Ruchti noted that 2012 was the hottest year on record in the country and that the average temperatures in Idaho are already increasing. Nineteen Idaho counties declared drought emergencies this year. Natural disasters cost taxpayers more than $417 million in 2012.
Sheep rancher Jerry Scheid spoke out at the event saying, "I can't tell you for sure if the climate is changing, but I believe that it is; the summers are longer and the winters are dryer. The weather and climate is so terribly crucial to all of our livelihoods - that we must take action.
Former Pocatello mayor (and current Pocatello mayoral candidate) Roger Chase, who also serves as a consultant for Bingham County Development Corp and chair of the Idaho water board, spoke out on the issues and the impacts on Idaho's local economy.
"If you change something in the ecosystem, something else is going to change," he said. "It is critical to our health and our economy that we act on climate change."
He went on, "The resources we have are finite. We need to take better care of our planet, we need to take better care of Idaho and better care of our communities. We need to make sure that our imprint on the earth is minimal. If we take care of the earth, at the end of the day, the earth will be here to take care of us."
Currently Idaho does not have a statewide plan to prepare for the health impacts of climate change.
Those in attendance were encourage to sign a petition on hand addressed to Idaho's congressional delegation encouraging support for President Obama's initiatives to limit carbon emissions which scientists believe may be accelerating climate change.
Learn more about the nationwide movement to act on climate change by visiting www.iwillact.us or by searching #ActOnClimate or #IWillAct on Twitter.