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About

For decades, scientists have accurately predicted how Earth’s temperature would respond to carbon emissions. They warned of rising temperatures, more frequent extreme weather, and the possibility of entering an unpredictable—or even unstable—climate. This looming forecast had a simple, though not easy, solution: Reduce the amount of greenhouse gases we emit into the atmosphere.

Our efforts to reduce emissions haven’t matched the urgency of this forecast, and the impacts of global warming are already here. Earth’s temperature continues to rise and will likely reach 1.5°C above the pre-industrial climate by 2030. Unless we reduce emissions drastically, it will be 3°C around mid-century. 

Probable Futures was founded in 2020 by a group of concerned leaders and citizens who started asking climate scientists direct, practical questions about what climate change would be like in different places around the world:

What does the world look like at 1.5°C of warming? What will it feel like? At 2°C? 3°C?

Do these different levels of warming mean radically different outcomes for society?

Could we communicate the consequences of each increment of warming so vividly that everyone—from parents and teachers to poets and CEOs—can better understand, prepare for, and address what is coming?

These conversations led to a collaboration with the renowned team of climate scientists at the Woodwell Climate Research Center. Together, we leveraged well-established climate models to produce maps depicting temperature, precipitation, drought, and other phenomena, around the world and at different increments of global warming.

With these maps, climate change was no longer an abstraction. The results were stark, even for those who had been studying climate change for decades. The consequences became real and personal. We found these portrayals of the future to be useful, intuitive, and profound. We wanted to share them with others, so we set out to share these maps with the world and translate them into practical tools, stories, and resources available online to everyone, everywhere. 

Founder Spencer Glendon chose the name Probable Futures, inspired by the idea that we could all have an understanding of the basics of climate science and then envision the future in ways that would positively affect how we think, feel, act, and relate to others. The plural Futures conveys the existence of a range of future outcomes, while Probable indicates that this range should be used as a guide: Some futures have zero probability, others are likely, and still others have low probabilities but would be so catastrophic that ignoring them would be grossly negligent. His vision for Probable Futures was that we could be frank about the range of outcomes we face and also encouraging to anyone who wants to participate in creating the future we and our successors will live in.

  • We believe knowledge is a public good. We created the initiative to make useful tools, resources, and insights widely available.
  • We believe that humanity’s understanding of our planet and its systems, and our ability to influence those systems, represent perhaps the greatest human achievement.
  • We want to help people see the coming changes in the physical world in intuitive, accessible, and resonant ways that they can easily adapt to personal, institutional, and societal decision-making.
  • We encourage people to appreciate that we live in specific places under specific circumstances. Those circumstances are changing in ways that we need to understand and must plan for. 
  • A successful mindset will be both global and local, specific and holistic.
  • Civilization and bountiful nature are at stake. This planet is extraordinary and extraordinarily precious. There is no other place like it, and there has never been a time as agreeable to humans as now.
  • In an unstable, changing world, our awareness and decisions should incorporate a much wider range of outcomes than the prior stability conditioned us to imagine. Planning for these probable futures is what can make a difference.
  • We encourage a risk mindset; not one focused on maximization. Best-case scenarios can be part of our decision-making, but wishful thinking is reckless, and we must weigh terrible outcomes that have moderate probabilities heavily.
  • We have abstracted modern life from place and nature. It is difficult for us to grasp just how powerful we are and how much we have to lose. 
  • No one “wins” if civilization and nature suffer, and now is the time that matters.
  • There is no pride in having already known what we’re up against. There is no shame in not yet having known it, or in having had an incorrect view.
  • Probable Futures welcomes philosophical and ethical inquiry and imaginative thinking. We are in a moment in time when we are being called upon to redesign aspects of civilization. In this, we see the opportunity to envision life for the better. 

Probable Futures is not a business. It is an unconventional initiative that brings together leaders across culture, business, technology, and design, in collaboration with scientists at the renowned Woodwell Climate Research Center. We are committed to and guided by our shared set of core principles.

Probable Futures team

Spencer Glendon
Founder
Alison Smart
Executive Director
Tammy Dayton
Creative Director
Charlotte Collins
Operations Coordinator

Woodwell Climate Research Center team

Christopher Schwalm
Senior Scientist & Risk Program Director
Zach Zobel
Assistant Scientist for Risk
Isabelle Runde
Research Assistant for Risk
Dominick Dousseau
Research Assistant for Risk
Maddy Holland
Research Assistant for Risk
Dave McGlinchey
Chief of External Relations
Michael Coe
Senior Scientist, Tropics Program Director
Jennifer Francis
Senior Scientist, Arctic Program

Platform development team

Design

Stephanie Bogle
Designer and Web Lead,
Moth Design
Leah Fenton
Designer,
Moth Design
Kirsten Sorton
Director of Product Design,
Postlight Digital Product Studio
Matt Quintanilla
Partner, Head of Product Design,
Postlight Digital Product Studio
Nora Vanni
Senior Product Designer,
Postlight Digital Product Studio

Engineering and Product

Peter Croce
Lead Product Manager,
Postlight Digital Product Studio
Zachary Golba
Lead Engineer,
Postlight Digital Product Studio
Zachary Harris
Senior Engineer,
Postlight Digital Product Studio
Shawn Kelly
Lead Engineer,
Postlight Digital Product Studio
Celina Khalife
Former Senior Engineer,
Postlight Digital Product Studio
Toufic Mouallem
Lead Engineer,
Postlight Digital Product Studio
Moustafa Wehbe
Engineer,
Postlight Digital Product Studio
Matthew McVickar
Senior Engineer,
Postlight Digital Product Studio
Adam Pash
Partner, Director of Engineering,
Postlight Digital Product Studio
Vicky Volvovski
Senior Director of Product Management,
Postlight Digital Product Studio
Wajeeh Zantout
Senior Engineer,
Postlight Digital Product Studio

Information Security

Matt Konda
Founder & CEO,
Jemurai

Content and audio

Devika Bakshi
Freelance Journalist, Radio Producer & Teacher
Ari Daniel
Independent Science Reporter
Matt Daniels
Founder/Data Journalist,
The Pudding & Polygraph, Inc
Mallory Farrugia
CEO & Founder,
Moonlight Editorial
Angely Mercado
Independent Fact-Checker
Viki Merrick
Vocal Coach & Editor
Jack Pombriant
Composer & Sound Designer
Lisa Marie Schnaubelt
Lead Editor,
Moonlight Editorial

Communications team

Want to get in touch? Email us at inquiries@probablefutures.org.

Isis Dallis
Managing Director,
Matter Unlimited
Joy Fox
Matter Unlimited
Meg Geoghean
Matter Unlimited

Special thanks

Josh Browne
Co-founder and COO,
Rho AI
Philip Duffy
President,
Woodwell Climate Research Center
Paul Ford
Co-Founder,
Postlight Digital Product Studio
Lisa Goddard
Senior Research Scientist,
Earth Institute at Columbia University
Pablo Illanes
Partner,
McKinsey & Co.
Mekala Krishnan
Partner,
McKinsey Global Institute
Andrew D. Jones
Staff Scientist,
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
James P. Joseph
Partner,
Arnold & Porter
Kira Lawrence
Geology and Environmental Geosciences Department Head,
Lafayette College
Dag Lohmann
CEO,
KatRisk
Thomas A. Magnani
Partner,
Arnold & Porter
Mikel Maron
Community Team Lead,
Mapbox
Dickon Pinner
Senior Partner,
McKinsey & Co.
Wellington Reiter
Founder,
Ten Across, Arizona State University
Hamid Samandari
Senior Partner,
McKinsey & Co.
Lisa Tung
Executive Director,
MassArt Art Museum (MAAM)
John Vasconcellos
President,
Southcoast Community Foundation
Rich Ziade
Co-Founder,
Postlight Digital Product Studio

… And all the people around the world who tested this platform and gave feedback and support. We sincerely thank you.

If you or your organization is prepared to lead:

We collaborate with courageous leaders of influential organizations who are willing to act boldly. These organizations acknowledge that they are integral to safeguarding and strengthening their community’s health, well-being, and prosperity and that they can do tremendous good. If you or your organization is prepared to lead, please reach out at hello@probablefutures.org.

To use the data and tools beyond this platform:

Our goal is for these maps to become standard inputs for all kinds of decision-making, from personal to business to public policy. Probable Futures and our collaborators will soon offer tools to apply this data and create custom maps. If your organization, community, or classroom would like to use Probable Futures’ data and tools in ways that go beyond this public platform, please reach out at hello@probablefutures.org.

To give us feedback:

We will gladly accept and consider it. Please reach out at feedback@probablefutures.org.

To submit a story suggestion for the interactive map:

Stories featured on our interactive maps are meant to be illustrative, showcasing just a few examples of the ways in which the natural world, our built environment, and our societal systems depend on a stable climate. We republish this content from third parties in order to combine knowledge and expertise from outside of Probable Futures with our interactive map platform. If you have a suggestion for a potential story, please first review our  story qualifications. If your story follows our guidelines, reach out and submit at stories@probablefutures.org.  

Media inquiries or speaking requests:

inquiries@probablefutures.org

Probable Futures is a project of the Southcoast Community Foundation, which serves as its fiscal agent.