For two years, they formed a community of experts, about 1,000 in all, including 300 leading climate scientists inside and outside 13 federal agencies. For two years, they volunteered their time and expertise to produce the Fourth National Climate Assessment.
There is no parallel process to tackle the questions I study; there is no ongoing national racial assessment mandated by a law summarizing the impact of racism on the United States, now and in the future. Still, I can relate to these climate scientists.
From U.S. national assessments to the global assessments of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, climate scientists have been pumping out warnings for decades. Each warning about what will happen if there is not “substantial and sustained reductions in global greenhouse-gas emissions” has been more dreadful than the last. I can relate to their continuous stand on scientific certainty, their continuous travel toward scientific discovery, and their quest to cultivate and defend humanity from humanity. “I’m for humans,” the climate scientist Andrea Dutton recently tweeted.
The first volume of their Fourth National Climate Assessment, released last year, concluded that there is “no convincing alternative explanation” for global warming other than “human activities, especially emissions of greenhouses gases.” This year’s second volume, released into the mad dash of Black Friday sales and family reunions, stated, “More frequent and intense extreme weather and climate-related events, as well as changes in average climate conditions, are expected to continue to damage infrastructure, ecosystems, and social systems that provide essential benefits to communities.”