National Guard photo
Texas National Guard soldiers aid residents in heavily flooded areas of Houston after Hurricane Harvey. Research indicates that climate change intensified Harvey’s floods. (Photo credit: Texas Army National Guard / 1st Lt. Zachary West)

As you most likely know, the 4th National Climate Assessment was released the day after Thanksgiving, and you’ve perhaps read at least a bit about it. Maybe you want to learn a little more – but aren’t sure where to start. Here are some ideas.

A bit of background. A year ago, Volume I of this congressionally-mandated report was released: the Climate Science Special Report, focused on the science of climate change. The new report is Volume II, “Impacts, Risks and Adaptation in the United States.” Both collect and contextualize the work of hundreds of scientists and 13 federal agencies. Compared to the previous report (2014), this one focuses on regions (rather than the whole nation); adds chapters on air quality, U.S. international interests, and complex interactions among parts of the human-climate world; and increases coverage of the economic impacts of climate change and of risk management.

Your guide to the climate report that the White House tried to bury. Click To Tweet

You would do well to begin with the online version of the report itself, reading Chapter 1: Overview. Both accessible and packed with information, including lots of embedded links, this chapter is far more concrete and specific than the “Summary Findings” and other front matter. Even just skimming it will be worth your time, and if something catches your attention, it is a good place to anchor a deeper look. (If you missed Volume I, you can simply read Chapter 2: Our Changing Climate in this new report.)

For the framing of reliable climate reporters, see the good summary discussions in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Atlantic. (They differ enough to make it worthwhile to read all three.) Circle of Blue has a good piece focused on water issues relevant to all of us.

Two good list-like summaries are in Grist (regional impacts) and at CNN (key takeaways focused on human health).

Finally, teachers can learn a lot by looking at the NCA resources assembled by the Clean Network.


This series is curated and written by retired Colorado State University English professor and close climate change watcher SueEllen Campbell of Colorado. To flag works you think warrant attention, send an e-mail to her any time. Let us hear from you.

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