Come Rain or Shine

Behind the Scenes of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report

June 01, 2022 USDA Southwest Climate Hub & DOI Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center Season 3 Episode 6
Behind the Scenes of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report
Come Rain or Shine
More Info
Come Rain or Shine
Behind the Scenes of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report
Jun 01, 2022 Season 3 Episode 6
USDA Southwest Climate Hub & DOI Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center

Dr. Carolyn Enquist and Dr. Dave Gutzler discuss the making of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report, particularly the Working Group II section that presents an assessment of the impacts of, and vulnerabilities and adaptations to, climate change, of which both were authors. They share with us the scope and purpose of the report, applicability for resource managers and other decision-makers, what some of the terminology means, and more. Please note - this podcast episode is NOT a summary of the sixth assessment report’s findings. If you are interested in a quick summary of the findings, we encourage you to check out the FAQ documents linked below.

Relevant Links:

IPCC website: 

Working Group I Fact Sheets

Working Group II Fact Sheets

Working Group II FAQs documents

If you’re enjoying this podcast, please consider rating us and/or leaving us a review on Apple Podcasts, Podcast Addict, or Podchaser Thanks!

Follow us on Twitter @RainShinePod

Never miss an episode! Sign up to get an email alert whenever a new episode publishes

Have a suggestion for a future episode? Please tell us!

Come Rain or Shine affiliate links:
DOI Southwest CASC:
USDA Southwest Climate Hub:
Sustainable Southwest Beef Project (NIFA Grant #2019-69012-29853): 

Show Notes Transcript

Dr. Carolyn Enquist and Dr. Dave Gutzler discuss the making of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report, particularly the Working Group II section that presents an assessment of the impacts of, and vulnerabilities and adaptations to, climate change, of which both were authors. They share with us the scope and purpose of the report, applicability for resource managers and other decision-makers, what some of the terminology means, and more. Please note - this podcast episode is NOT a summary of the sixth assessment report’s findings. If you are interested in a quick summary of the findings, we encourage you to check out the FAQ documents linked below.

Relevant Links:

IPCC website: 

Working Group I Fact Sheets

Working Group II Fact Sheets

Working Group II FAQs documents

If you’re enjoying this podcast, please consider rating us and/or leaving us a review on Apple Podcasts, Podcast Addict, or Podchaser Thanks!

Follow us on Twitter @RainShinePod

Never miss an episode! Sign up to get an email alert whenever a new episode publishes

Have a suggestion for a future episode? Please tell us!

Come Rain or Shine affiliate links:
DOI Southwest CASC:
USDA Southwest Climate Hub:
Sustainable Southwest Beef Project (NIFA Grant #2019-69012-29853): 

[00:00:00] Emile Elias: Welcome to Come Rain or Shine podcast of the USDA Southwest Climate Hub 

[00:00:05] Sarah LeRoy: and the USGS Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center or Southwest CASC. I'm Sarah LeRoy Science Applications and Communications Coordinator for the Southwest CASC.

[00:00:17] Emile Elias: And I'm Emile Elias, Director of the Southwest Climate Hub. 

[00:00:21] Here, we highlight stories to share the most recent advances in climate science, weather and climate adaptation and innovative practices to support resilient landscapes and community. We believe that sharing some of the most innovative forward thinking and creative climate science and adaptation will strengthen our collective ability to respond to even the most challenging impacts of climate change in one of the hottest and driest regions of the world.

[00:00:55] Sarah LeRoy: The contents of this podcast are for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as endorsement for any of the products, technologies, or strategies discuss.

[00:01:08] Emile Elias: Earlier this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or IPCC released a report focused on climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. The IPCC is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. Every seven years or so three working groups of the IPCC publish a new assessment report consisting of four parts.

[00:01:34] The first part focuses on the physical science of climate change. The second part, and the one that we'll take a deeper dive into today focuses on the impacts of climate change. The third part of the report focuses on climate mitigation or reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And then the fourth part, which will be finished later in 2022 is a synthesis or a summary report. 

[00:02:00] Today we'll talk about the second part of the larger IPCC assessment report. In this part of the report, the authors assess the impacts and risks of climate change. Looking at ecosystems biodiversity and human communities at global and regional scales. They also review the limits of the natural world and human societies to adapt to climate change.

[00:02:27] Today, we're speaking with two authors for the report who contributed to the North American chapter. Dr. Carolyn Enquist is the interim federal director of the Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center. And Dr. David Gutzler is professor ameritus from the University of New Mexico, where he taught meteorology and climatology courses and was the advisor or professor who helped Carolyn when she was getting her PhD there as well.

[00:02:56] So, we have Carolyn and Dave with us, and we're so glad that you're joining us today to talk about your experience with the IPCC report. I'd like to first ask you both about the purpose of the IPCC assessment reports and more specifically the report that you both contributed directly to. What is the purpose and how is it meant to be used?

[00:03:21] And we'll start with you, Carolyn.

[00:03:24] Carolyn Enquist: Yeah, thanks for the invitation to be here. It's really a privilege to be talking to you all. And of course, with my former advisor, Dave Gutzler and yeah, it was really quite an experience. IPCC working group two for me was my first time. My understanding is that this is really the state of the knowledge, every seven years report of what we know globally, about climate change. 

[00:03:48] And specifically for this working group, as you mentioned, impacts of vulnerability and adaptation. And I think what this report provides is a very robust, scientific review, but really the assessment by these experts hundreds of scientists from around the world. Looking closely at what work they have done and others have done in this sphere.

[00:04:17] And by then using confidence statements and such, you can feel like you really have a really great grasp of what's going on in terms of climate change at all different levels, going from globally down to these regional and across sectors. So that's kind of, my understanding of IPCC, but I'm a newbie. I'll pass it on to Dave.

[00:04:42] David Gutzler: Yeah, well, that's an excellent summary of what the IPCC does. It is formally a body of the United Nations. So the IPCC was convened by the United nations back in the late 1980s, when it was recognized by the UN that climate change was an international problem. And following the structure that they'd used for other environmental problems that were international in scope, the IPCC was convened and charged by the UN with providing governments scientific guidance.

[00:05:21] So strictly speaking, what the IPCC is supposed to do is write these massive reports. That are intended to provide science guidance so that the countries associated with the UN, 195 of them can make policy based on science. Now over the years, I think the IPCC has expanded in scope so that their reports are not just aimed at governments.

[00:05:48] So they're used by all sorts of people. NGOs schools they're regarded as sort of a general purpose review of the science for the entire community. And to that end, the reports that the IPCC issues have been expanded to include things like frequently asked questions, which are supposed to be written in plain text that nonspecialists might even read and understand.

[00:06:16] And, for this assessment report, there's a new set of what are called fact sheets that are available online, which are just two page summaries of the key points that again are intended for classroom teachers and so forth. I know when I was teaching climate classes we used IPCC reports extensively because they really cover in a comprehensive way, the state of the art of climate science and, and impacts of climate change. So their reach extends beyond governments at this point. 

[00:06:49] Emile Elias: Thanks, Dave. And I'm curious about those fact sheets that you mentioned, are they around topic or are they around region or both?

[00:06:57] David Gutzler: Both. So working group one, the physical science report has already developed, finished and approved fact sheets.

[00:07:08] Let me say something about approval, just to follow up on what the IPCC does as part of the UN. It's very structured and rigorous and outrageously bureaucratic. And so there's a very strict and structured approval process that goes drives us all crazy. That goes along with everything the IPCC issues. So fact sheets, which are these two page summaries for the physical science volume have been written and revised and approved by the governing IPCC country commission. And they are online both in terms of topics, such as precipitation say, and in terms of regions. So you can get a fact sheet for north America and a fact sheet for Asia and a fact sheet for Australasia. And they're out there, have it freely available online through the IPCC webpage. Similar fact sheets are under development for the second working group.

[00:08:08] These things take time, especially given the approval process. So I don't think they've been maybe, maybe drafts of them are publicly available, but they'll, They'll be available soon. And again, the intention is to have a fact sheet for north America and one for south America and these continental scale fact sheets.

[00:08:29] And complimentary fact sheets that cover much of the same material, but are organized around topics such as agriculture and water and fisheries and things like that. Oceans. 

[00:08:40] Emile Elias: Great. Thanks. You mentioned the approval process and that can be onerous and challenging. Or at least very strict. And so I'm curious about the broader process of developing these assessment reports and that might not be common knowledge.

[00:08:55] So could you take us through what the process is and we'll start with Dave and then move on to Carolyn, thanks. 

[00:09:03] David Gutzler: Long and tedious is the quick answer. So there, once again, there's a very rigorous and structured process that's followed for each of these reports. Working group two actually started five years ago with a scoping meeting in Africa, at which representatives mostly from the previous report came together and outlined what the chapters would be and what the broad content areas of each assessment chapter would be. Then that was followed a year later by a meeting in Italy that I went to where working group one and working group two got together for a meeting to try to make the connection between the two volumes, more seamless and robust. And then we finally got started.

[00:09:58] And during that time, authors were selected by nomination from the individual countries that make up the IPCC. So Carolyn and I were nominated by the US Global Change research project, the program, the US Global Change Inter-agency authority at the federal level. Somebody at IPCC headquarters in Switzerland picked our names. 

[00:10:23] Don't ask me how. I'll let Carolyn explain that because I have absolutely no idea how those authors were chosen. And then we started writing and it took years following multiple drafts to come up with content that was prescribed in outlined form to begin with. We had our own chapter team where individual sections were assessed to individual authors.

[00:10:50] From Canada, US and Mexico in the North American chapter. After there were four such drafts drafts, two, three, and four were reviewed externally. So we had external review comments to respond to. And so the whole thing took five years from the start of the scoping meeting going through multiple drafts, thousands of review comments, and many, many, many papers to assess. Carolyn, what have I missed?

[00:11:22] Carolyn Enquist: Well, Dave, I think you were pretty comprehensive. And you know, in the, just the name of saving time, I'll just leave it at that, but I will say we're still even reviewing galley proofs for our chapter. So it's not even quite done yet. It lives on. 

[00:11:46] Sarah LeRoy: Thanks Carolyn. So as we've discussed, there are four different reports, but within each of these reports, there are also numerous chapters.

[00:11:55] And so you both are lead authors on the North America chapter. So I was wondering if you could tell us about the chapter and then, you know, how it's different from the findings in the previous IPCC assess report. And so we'll start with you, Carolyn. 

[00:12:10] Carolyn Enquist: Yeah, I think the North America chapter, you know, it's always a little bit of a challenge should really be able to dig through all the various sources and materials.

[00:12:21] Make sure it's all as transparent and traceable as possible. What came out to me as new and, you know, we basically report it as such, is that, you know, really climate risks are appearing faster, coming more severe and difficult to manage. And then there's threat multipliers in the shape of poverty and the inequalities that affect humans and the help of species and ecosystems differently. So there's really a lot of effort to address these inequities in this particular report. Way more so than that has been done before in the North America chapter, we also focused on the emerging challenge of misinformation. And that can really impede the recognition of risk and urgency and delay climate action.

[00:13:13] So those things really, really emerged. And I also mentioned that as a ecosystem and ecologists terrestrial ecologists. The issue of transformation has come up more in that since the last report. And particularly it continues to emerge in terms of our understanding of this rapid ecosystem changes that we're seeing on the ground faster than any management agency, one management agency, and then much less many management agencies can keep up with. 

[00:13:48] And finally, I'll say the role of indigenous peoples in adaptation. So the adaptation section was another sort of it's been addressed before, but there was sort of a renewed effort to really try to flesh out adaptation what it means and what's happening on the ground. And we found that there is a lot of adaptation going on.

[00:14:14] However it's more incremental. And so, you know, we have a greater awareness, but really we need to integrate efforts much more to have a transformational approach so that we can really start working hard on our long-term adaptation strategies so that they really help get us on the path to climate resilience and indigenous peoples are playing more and more of an important role in this space, given their knowledge systems that have been developing for millennia and their inherent capacity to adapt and think about ways for adaptation that are not just focused on technological advances. 

[00:14:58] So I think these things, the suite of things was something for me that really emerged in a powerful and strong way in this particular assessment. 

[00:15:09] Sarah LeRoy: Excellent. Dave, do you have anything to add to that? 

[00:15:12] David Gutzler: Not much. That was a very comprehensive summary. To my way of thinking this assessment remember our assessment was supposed to be about climate impacts and adaptation.

[00:15:25] And since the last assessment that came out in 2014, what we can say about impacts is that if anything, the impacts of climate change have become more severe, more rapidly than was generally projected eight years ago. On the other hand, there's a much richer literature to assess about adaptation. And so this assessment focused somewhat more on adaptation because we were in a stronger position to assess what's working and what's not.

[00:16:00] And what actions governments might take to enhance adaptation strategies. And as Carolyn mentioned, a lot of that has to do with building on what seems to be working, but scaling it up from a local disconnected set of adaptation strategies to a more coordinated national and international strategy to the extent that the governments can do that.

[00:16:24] Carolyn Enquist: Yeah, I just thought I would add quickly too, you know, the next report, the working group three focuses on mitigation. And one of our charges of course, is to essentially provide sort of the hand shake to the next report. And what we found though is with the adaptation literature becoming much more rich, as Dave mentioned that there's actually limits to adaptation.

[00:16:51] And how do we address those limits is something that we're starting to work on a lot more, but also the recognition that adaptation alone is of course, in order to do more effective adaptation, rather we need to also do, mitigation. And so that there are really, you know, exceptional sort of emerging sort of approaches to where mitigation and adaptation provide co-benefits.

[00:17:21] So that's kind of a new language that's being employed pretty broadly now. So instead of just talking about mitigation alone. Adaptation. Alone. It's the co-benefits of the two together. And by doing so you can reduce some of these limits of adaptation that you would have had otherwise. That's something that created a really nice handshake, I think from our report to the working group three report. 

[00:17:51] Sarah LeRoy: Great point, Carolyn.

[00:17:52] And I'm curious for the next assessment report to see how that evolves even further with those two reports, you know, addressing those, those co-benefits. So, Dave, I wanted to ask you some of the terminology in the report can be a little confusing, especially when there's talk about different confidence levels and what those mean.

[00:18:11] So could you describe those confidence levels that are used and what they actually mean? 

[00:18:17] David Gutzler: Yup. There's a prescription developed by the IPCC for describing confidence in uncertainty. That can be a bit cryptic, but the, I think the essential thing for readers of the report to keep in mind is that we are basing all of our assessments on existing literature.

[00:18:39] So the IPCC is not carrying out original research it's assessing what's already in the peer reviewed literature. But the peer reviewed literature is not always definitive. People try to reproduce each other's results. Sometimes people reach different conclusions from different data sets on the same problem.

[00:19:00] And so we need to have some way to convey how confident or uncertain we are in a particular assessment. And so the IPCC uses two kinds of metrics to assess confidence. One is just the quality of, and quantity of the data or modeling output that's used to reach a certain conclusion in a paper. We know that some data sets are just ironclad and others are experimental or may have lots of uncertainty associated with them.

[00:19:36] That doesn't mean that those results should be discounted, but it changes our level of confidence in, in how definitive we can be. And then the other is whether there are multiple studies that reached the same conclusion based on complimentary data. And if those conclusions are consistent. And so there's a scale from low confidence to high confidence.

[00:19:57] If we want to be brave, we can go from a confidence assessment of low, medium, high to a likelihood assessment would act, which actually has probabilities attached to it. I don't think the specific probabilities are that important to delineate. But people should know basically what, what is behind those assessments?

[00:20:19] It has to do with whether lots of studies reached the same conclusion and whether the basic input data and modeling information going into the studies is robust or subject to lots of uncertain. And so everything we do is traced back to a paper or multiple papers with a confidence or likelihood assessment about how robust we think the conclusions are.

[00:20:47] Sarah LeRoy: Excellent. Thanks Dave, that was very comprehensive. Carolyn, given your work with the Southwest CASC and with resource managers, I was wondering if you could speak to how the information in this report can help inform resource management, in the Southwest. 

[00:21:04] Carolyn Enquist: Yeah. I mean, it's, it's kind of mind boggling, you know, when you think about this as a global assessment and how does that really relate down to what's happening on the ground in terms of resource management. But we really did strive to, to do just that, particularly in our North America chapter, I can't really speak on behalf of the other chapters, but I believe that they attempted to do sort of a similar process as we did. But we really thought it would be important to provide as many case studies as possible that really sort of fleshed out kind of the issues in terms of impacts and vulnerabilities.

[00:21:45] But also some of the really interesting things that people are doing in, in across sectors related to adaptation solutions you know, an on the ground action across sectors. And so we spent quite a lot of time digging around for those case studies, synthesizing them in some tables that are, we believe fairly accessible.

[00:22:09] I mean, again, this is still a fairly technical report, but we really tried to use as plain language as possible with these case study citations, as well as really trying to dig in to some of the common themes across sectors and how really working across sectors now is sort of the trend so that we don't get siloed.

[00:22:38] Working within our one sector and maybe in another sector, there's actually been some action that would inform a different sector. And oftentimes by working together in a sort of a transdisciplinary way where, you know, multiple professionals, academics NGOs come together to work and draw upon and they can take advantage of their different strengths.

[00:23:03] If you do that work together, you can make much bigger strides in terms of some, you know, really kind of intriguing sort of things I have to say that, it's really been the water utility water hazard, water resources sector that probably has made the biggest strides working in this capacity, working very collaboratively, working at scale.

[00:23:30] And I think, you know, they really provide a number of really great case studies out there. Denver Water being one also. We report on some work that took place with Santa Ana Watershed project authority in California, and just this really collaborative process with multiple stakeholders at the table, from the get go and, you know, being able to really sort of then drive what happens in terms of what's good for people. What's good for individuals. What's good for cities, but also what's good for nature and thinking in terms more in terms of our actions that have repercussions on what's happening in terms of ecosystem services. And then of course the connections, even with fire and water everything is connected and I think the water sector at large has really done a great job in. And then I'll say from utilizing the climate science in a scenario capacity, climate scenarios, all the way to management scenarios. So we, if you look in our report, there are, you know, a number of these kinds of citations. We also flesh out the concept of nature based solutions, particularly in terms of coastal ecosystems.

[00:24:54] And so really, I think we've provided a really great resource for managers on the ground across North America. We really tried to make sure that the three countries were represented as best as possible. So that's, that's kind of my long-winded way of talking about how there is something in there for managers, too. Not just the high level policy makers.

[00:25:17] Sarah LeRoy: That's perfect. Thank you. And I'm wondering if, I guess I'll ask Dave first and then Carolyn, you can follow up if you have advice on how people could take the findings in the report and actually take it to action, whether it be managers or even the general public. 

[00:25:34] David Gutzler: One of the things the IPCC is now good for at this point, having gone through six assessment cycles is that, one can trace the level of evidence and the level of urgency associated with various climate changes and their impacts for over 25 years now. And so there's a history here of documentation of climate change impacts and, and the way the climate system has evolved and people can see how consistent and how ramped up some of these effects have been.

[00:26:15] And so there's a lot of ammunition there for anyone who wants to push for coordinated action. Both to mitigate climate change and to adapt to the climate change that we see happening already. And that's what the reports are for. There is no specific call to action in the reports and that's by design.

[00:26:43] Remember, this is supposed to inform policymakers, not direct them, but it's a pretty small step from seeing what's documented in thousands of pages in these reports to a pretty clear Clarion call for doing something, not just for future generations, because the climate changes we're seeing now as documented in our report.

[00:27:12] That may be society and societies across the world ought to ramp up their efforts both to adapt to what's happening and to try to limit the climate changes in the future. 

[00:27:25] Sarah LeRoy: Carolyn, do you have anything to add? 

[00:27:27] Carolyn Enquist: Well, I think Dave said it really quite well. You know, it is really about this collective coordinated action and that, that really is kind of, what we're hoping I think just broadly as IPCC authors is if we do it together, we can accomplish a lot. And there's, you know, some early examples of that through, again, these case studies that we mentioned, you know, through these partnerships, we can do this, but we've got to do it now. 

[00:28:00] Sarah LeRoy: Yes. So as we've discussed these IPCC assessment reports are global in scope, and of course they have the regional chapters, you know, more of the continental scale, but the US also has its own assessment report, the National Climate Assessment or NCA, and Carolyn you're also an author on the fifth National Climate Assessment that's in development now. And my co-host Emile is the coordinating federal lead on the Southwest chapter for the fifth National Climate Assessment. So I wanted to ask both of you and we'll start with you Emile, on this one. How are the IPCC reports similar to the National Climate Assessment and how are they different?

[00:28:45] Emile Elias: Thanks, Sarah. Yeah, this is new for me. I'm used to asking the questions, not answering them, but yeah, I think they're different in terms of scale. It's both spatial and temporal scale. So the National Climate Assessment was requested by Congress in 1990. And the intent was to have a report every four years. As most folks know we're working on the fifth national climate assessment now.

[00:29:07] So it took us a while to get ramped up and to begin to do these on that four year time step. And as we mentioned earlier, in this episode, the IPCC reports are on a little bit longer timescale. It's a seven year assessment scale. So we have different timescales we're working on. Spatial scale is different as well.

[00:29:26] So the National Climate Assessment discusses the observed and projected climate impacts within the United States. Focusing on regions of the United States and in a way that could be helpful for some of the questions that we were asking earlier about management and about how to use the report a little bit finer scale could be helpful, whereas the IPCC discusses observed and projected climate impacts at the continental scale, as we talked about. Both reports are similar in that they're assessment reports. So they're not journal articles, they're a synthesis of the literature. So both reports are synthesis of the literature and they would likely reach similar conclusions. And both reports are reviewed by scientists and by governments.

[00:30:18] So that's, that's how I see similarities and differences between the IPCC report and the National Climate Assessment. 

[00:30:27] Sarah LeRoy: Yeah. Actually, I want to ask Carolyn now, since you've been on now, both the IPCC and the NCA. And so, you know, if you could speak to the differences, but also thinking about how it's relevant to managers.

[00:30:39] Should they be looking at both reports since the NCA has a Southwest chapter? Is that more relevant for them and your thoughts on that? 

[00:30:47] Carolyn Enquist: Yeah. Thanks, Sarah and Emile certainly gave a really great response to that. I would add that with the NCA, one thing that I was impressed by particularly this round of the NCA, cause I have participated in to others was from the get-go each of the chapters was charged with having a stakeholder participating participation, meaning. And so it, wasn't just up to some small group somewhere in well Africa that may, you know, or whatever, or decided, or DC as the case may be, you know, the US but deciding what was going to go into the report, you know, it certainly, we started with some structure, you know, an outline, but we all have the opportunity and we were charged to go and do an extensive workshop.

[00:31:40] Bringing stakeholders in so that we could hear their voices, we would give them the voice. And then we'd hear that and do our best to incorporate that into further development of our respective chapters. And there's really, I don't know how that would happen at the IPCC level, but, you know, there was, there was none of that.

[00:31:59] So I feel like the NCA really does have the opportunity to really reflect kind of the, the concerns of, of the users of the report when it finally is said and done, I do think though that the IPCC is still very relevant to managers locally, regionally, because you do get diverse perspectives that you would not just get by reading what was happening across the U S much less your own region. And so you can really kind of see that, Hey, this is a global community, we're all working on this. We're all working at it together. There's been some innovations over here, you know, across the world, you know, do they pertain to me? And I think for the North America chapter is how integrated we really are as a continent.

[00:32:48] And I think we forget. Oh, in the US what we do doesn't matter to Mexico, or Canada or vice versa. And really to reach the transformational adaptation that we need, we need to be doing it at a continental level, quite honestly. And that was one of the findings that we tried to articulate. That being said, of course, if you need to dig a little bit deeper down this national and going down to these regional chapters should help managers find particularly relevant information. So that's kind of, I think there really should be used together and kind of nested within one another for the biggest bang for the buck. 

[00:33:31] Emile Elias: Thanks Carolyn. Yeah, there's a lot of complimentary nature of these reports with one another. And I liked that you noticed and called out the diffusion of innovation that happens when you're working at a global and continental scale, that can be really helpful learning from other places about what's being done there. So as we just talked about being an author on these major climate assessment reports can be a lot of work and there are a lot of structures that you have to work within. But there are also benefits. And so I'm hoping you can tell us a bit about your experience in terms of what surprised you about your participation as an IPCC author, and then what you took away from the effort and your participation.

[00:34:20] And we'll start with Dave. 

[00:34:22] David Gutzler: This experience for me, I've done this twice now, and this experience was rather different than the first round for me. So I was a lead author on working group one in this fifth assessment eight years ago. And, and there I was an author on one of the more typical chapters that included authorship from around the world. And as much fun as it was to see old friends like Carolyn, I have to say, I missed the truly international flavor of authorship, where we had, where I was interacting with people from India and Zambia and Australia and all over the place on these assessments. That was an eye opener for me. I got to meet many international people all up from all over the place. 

[00:35:17] And the only opportunity we really had for that in our chapter being defined as a North American chapter, was that the big author meetings, the last of which became virtual after the pandemic started. So the, the whole international aspect of IPCC authorship for me was hugely beneficial. Among other things, I learned what a outlier the United States is politically with regard to the climate change issue. 

[00:35:48] Lots of folks from all over the place would ask me at meetings, you know, how could it be that there was so much just sheer climate change denial in the United States. And how could that possibly be? And so just hearing that perspective from people was an eye-opener for me. This time around, I was specifically appointed as a lead author to try to be a liaison with working group one. So I ended up being a contributing author to two of the chapters on working group one, in addition to being a lead author on working group two.

[00:36:25] So. So I kept some connection with working group one, but then, which is really my natural home as a physical scientist. So this time around the real learning for me, involved a lot of interaction with social scientists and people working on vulnerability assessment and things like that, which I had not spent an awful lot of time on as a physical scientist.

[00:36:48] And so, my mind got stretched in that way as well. So both times around I've I've learned an awful lot and benefited tremendously. 

[00:36:57] Emile Elias: Thanks, Dave. And the same question to you, Carolyn, how was your experience and what surprised you and what did you take away from it? 

[00:37:04] Carolyn Enquist: Yeah, I'll just piggyback on what Dave said. Of course I'm not a physical scientist, so not any of that part, but really just this international sort of experience, you know, going to some of those first meetings went before we were virtual was just really a thrill to be interacting.

[00:37:27] With folks that are thinking about some of the things around the world. I wish I could have had the experience to do more of that. And then secondly, the, the diversity of authors, this is similar to what Dave just said on our chapter economists, geographers, people that look at public health, et cetera, really expanded my vision of what it means to do adaptation in particular.

[00:37:52] And thinking about things from an economic and livelihood from trade perspectives, much less those that relate to simply not simply, but just ecosystems. I've spent a large part of my career thinking about climate change on the implications for ecosystems and species, but to really think in terms of these broader integrated perspectives was really, really fascinating.

[00:38:19] And, you know, some of the leading minds, you know, kind of thought leaders thinking about adaptation too, I had the opportunity both nationally and internationally to interact with. So I'll always be very grateful for that. It was a really a fascinating experience. 

[00:38:33] Emile Elias: Excellent. Thanks. We like to end each episode on a hopeful note.

[00:38:39] And so my question to both of you after your experience and working on these assessments, and also just your experience in the jobs that you do is what gives you hope for the future. And I'll go ahead and start with Carolyn first for this question. 

[00:38:54] Carolyn Enquist: Thanks, yes. I really like this part of your podcast as well.

[00:38:57] And I'll just say that. You know, adaptation, I'm just gonna get back, just go straight to the solution space, is happening. And it's so encouraging to see how it's happening and how cities have taken the lead in a large part, particularly when at times when the feds maybe weren't able to do so. And.

[00:39:21] You know, it's really, it's really exciting to see some of the innovations that cities and others are doing on the ground. And now it's time to really try to scale those up, work together, again, break down those silos in between. And I feel like, we have the capacity to expedite doing that kind of adaptation, that kind of transformational adaptation.

[00:39:43] When you think about the things, when we put our minds to it as innovators, we can do it quickly. I mean, you think about, you know, some of the hazard responses and how quickly a vaccine for the pandemic was developed and, you know, and there's other examples like that. I mean, we, we can do this. So I also think that the increased recognition of indigenous peoples' role in this space and, you know, working with different forms of knowledge, not just Western science that, you know, Western science is great, but really even we can't Western science ourselves out of this. We need to work with the diversity of knowledge systems and here in the U S. I think many of our indigenous partners have been thinking about this, working on this. Many are also on the front lines of climate impacts.

[00:40:37] And so it's another reason why we need to be working together on this, but it really does give me a lot of hope seeing kind of the renewed recognition of indigenous peoples' role in the climate crisis. 

[00:40:51] Emile Elias: Thanks Carolyn. Dave, the same question to you, what gives you hope? 

[00:40:55] David Gutzler: Understanding gives me hope. And what I have learned through participating in the IPCC process is how much we understand both about the problems and challenges associated with climate change and about how those climate changes affect people and ecosystems. But how much we've learned about solutions, both in terms of adaptation, and potential mitigation. And so even if I look out the window and see wildfire smoke, and even if we're stuck in a big drought, and even if it's easy to harp on bad climate news, I'll echo what Carolyn said that we know what's going on.

[00:41:43] And we know what to do about it. There are solutions out there that are ripe for innovation to make them more effective on larger scales. And I remain very confident that will implement solutions. And we can address this. We know, we know how to do it. One of the principle conclusions of both the first two volumes of this assessment, was that anything that we can do to limit future climate change. And to address it via adaptation is going to help that, that there is no evidence that we ought to plan on that says that it's too late, that whatever we do doesn't matter, that we're just doomed. That's not what we see in the data, and it's not what we see in the models. What we see is that there are effective measures we can take as an international community.

[00:42:46] And within local jurisdictions and different countries to adapt that will help matters. And so we can use that as a basis for optimism to move forward in a constructive way. 

[00:43:00] Emile Elias: Absolutely. Just do something. Thank you, Dr. Dave Gutzler, Dr. Carolyn Enquist. Thank you so much for joining us today and sharing your experience.

[00:43:11] It was great to talk with you.

[00:43:15] Thanks for listening to Come Rain or Shine, podcast of the USDA Southwest Climate Hub, 

[00:43:20] Sarah LeRoy: and the USGS Southwest CASC. If you liked this podcast, don't forget to rate and review it and subscribe for more great episodes. A special thanks to our production crew, Skye Aney and Reanna Burnett. If you want more information, have any questions for the speakers or would like to offer feedback, please reach out to us via our websites.