How We Read the Fourth National Climate Assessment

Read it.

All of it.

No, you don’t get to come back and read what you think is my upcoming synopsis on it. You read it through and through.

Don’t forget to take notes.

I think you forgot to click on some of those info graphics.




The Fourth National Climate Assessment is large, intense, and overwhelming – all indications that it is a thorough and precise piece of work. It deserves attention, when and where you can give it, until you have digested it all. Download it as a PDF, print it, and keep it by your bedside. Keep it opened in a tab on your browser – the ever constant reminder that your work is not finished.

Avoid confusing or conflating it with the current Administration. The day it was released does not matter. Political reactions do not matter. The pundits and their opinions do not matter. The research, the hesitant scientific detachment, is a monumental totem that looms far above the coifs and spray tans below.

Distrust the appeal of a cleverly worded headline or a truncated analysis. The Fourth National Climate Assessment is much too important, much too omnipresent, to be left for the buzzards of interpretation. To read its full length is our right, our duty, our reckoning, our salvation.

Talk with others about what you read. Reference the research, repeat phrases that stand out, ask questions, pull at your hair, slam your fist, cry – share this all with others. Do not look for an easy solution, or any solution for that matter. Do not walk away from a conversation feeling like this has been put to rest.

Feel uncomfortable, feel affronted, feel lost, feel hope, feel…feel…feel. Make the Fourth National Climate Assessment a part of your deeply held memories, flood your brain with feeling, with norepinephrine and epinephrine, so much so that the experience is encoded into your hippocampus. Let it pop into your thoughts at unexpected times, and savor what that means, what the connection is, and how you can share that connection with someone else.

Let the Fourth National Climate Assessment become a place of regular reflection. Are your thoughts and actions cognizant of its presence? Embrace this gift of knowledge with fervor and zeal. We have very little time to understand and address global climate change. The work each of us does on a day to day basis needs to have clear, concise connections to mitigating this massive challenge that has been thrust upon us.

Read it. You must.


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