Get in touch

How do you build a bridge between climate science and culture? This week, Alison Smart, Executive Director of Probable Futures, and Peter Croce, Lead Product Manager at Postlight, join Paul and Rich to talk about how to create accessible resources for understanding climate change. What tools has Probable Futures created to tackle this? How do they collaborate with clients that want to make a positive difference? And, what is the price tag for climate change?

Image credit.

Transcript

Alison Smart So clever. Yeah, we are—I didn’t mean that to sound as snarky as it came out. [Everyone laughs.]

Paul Ford No, that’s the material we’re looking for. It’s good. Zing!

[Intro music fades in, plays 10 seconds, ramps up.]

PF Hey Richard.

Rich Ziade Yes, Paul.

PF I’ve got great news for you.

RZ Tell me. I love great news.

PF Big report came out from McKinsey. Big report. And it says exactly how much it’s going to cost to dig ourselves out of this hole we’ve dug ourselves into when it comes to climate change.

RZ Exactly.

PF Exactly. Now to the dollar—great plan, here we go, not so bad. Not so bad.

RZ Ok, what’s the number?

PF 275 trillion dollars.

RZ Hm—any discounts? Can I do a payment plan?

PF Well the joke is, I’ll do it for 274. That’s what I’ve been saying. 

RZ That’s funny.

PF And nobody laughs.

RZ You know what, you just gave me the same anxiety I get when the HVAC guy is about to give me a quote and you know they’re padding it.

PF He’s right? He’s right.

RZ And he’s right, exactly.

PF He’s padding it, he’s padding it. But literally that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to replace the HVAC at a global level.

RZ Yeah. I mean I’m guessing part of the signal around it is to sort of wake everyone up.

PF No!

RZ [Laughs.] It’s just a bill? It’s just an invoice.

PF It’s a big bill. It’s the bill for the entire energy system over the last like 150 years. It’s just the bill. 

RZ It’s finally due.

PF HVAC is a great analogy actually. You don’t think about it when you buy the house but it’s really expensive and a house without HVAC is just a moldy nightmare that’s going to collapse. So that’s not why we’re here. Well it is actually kind of why we’re here. So we’re going to bring two people in to talk. One is a Postlight-affiliated person and the other is a different organization affiliated person. And these people are working on climate change at a very deep, intense level. And a lot of the things that I’ve learned about climate change I’ve learned from them. They’ve been our clients for a long time and have become our friends and in many ways our mentors. First of all let’s introduce Allison Smart from Probable Futures. Allison welcome to the podcast.

AS Allison thanks for having me. It’s fun to be here.

PF And I’d like to introduce Peter Croce, the product manager for Probable Futures. 

Peter Croce Thanks for having me—excited to be here.

PF Yay! Alright. So.

[2:39]

RZ We should tell people that if you’re listening to this podcast and you have a computer in your pocket, there’s a great case study for Probable Futures on postlight.com but also probablefutures.org. 

PF I’ll tell ya—it’s good work.

RZ It’s really good work.

PF It’s a mix of interactive textbook and then it’s got maps. But anyway.

RZ Question: what is Probable Futures? Alison?

PF Good question, Rich.

AS Yeah so we build Probable Futures in order to build a bridge between climate science and culture. What it is is an initiative to develop and share with the public really useful tools that visualize climate change along with stories and insights to help people actually understand what those changes will mean to our lives.

[3:29]

RZ Who is your audience? I know it’s a lame question, but like, is it just anyone? Is it scientists? Is it business people like, who are you aiming for?

AS Well, we have designed it definitely to be widely accessible. The intended audience is not scientists, but we certainly hope scientists will use it and have heard from some scientists that they intend to. But our intended user is really anyone who can use a resource on their journey to internalizing climate change. So for a lot of people that’s just starting out on their journey to learning about climate change and how it’ll affect their lives. And so we hope for people like that, Probable Futures will be kind of their first stop.

PF Alison, you are the executive director. 

AS Yes, that’s right. 

PF What does an executive director do all day at a climate communications-focused org?

AS For Probable Futures, what I do all day is connect the various partners that we have working with us. Well, I’ll back up a little bit and say, Spencer Glendon is the founder of Probable Futures. And this initiative really originated from his ideas. So as executive director, I’m the person who builds a process and a team to bring those ideas to life and to actually implement them. So we decided to build the Probable Futures organization a little bit unconventionally. We decided not to build a big organization with all of the staff people actually on staff, but we brought in partners like Postlight and others, who really know their craft very well, who have great people. And so we bring those people in and work, commit to kind of long-term relationships with them. And then we have—I, as executive director, have the challenge of creating a culture across, you know, 5, 6, 7 different organizations in order to have a creative process and a culture around that creative process and within the organization. My favorite thing is when Paul introduces me to people by email and says Alison and Spencer are responsible for wrecking my brain—all different forms of wrecking my brain, ruining my life, introducing him to—

PF I like a little drama in my intro emails too, though. You know, I just feel as a form, you’ve got to give them some life. So one of the lives that you partially ruined is also Peter’s life because Peter, we should give a little context here. Peter was and is transitioning out of Postlight and really focusing his career on climate and doing that with Postlight. We are all still working together and still, he’s been working with you guys on behalf of Postlight for a long time, and will be working with you guys for a long time as well. Peter, talk a little bit about what you do in this context and what you do for Probable Futures.

[6:30]

PC I am the product lead on Probable Futures. So that means I also am in a role where I’m working to collaborate with a lot of different people, but specifically focused on the product. So with Postlight with our product designers and engineers, just like a product manager, really working to collaborate and build this product. It’s really a very interdisciplinary piece of work, Probable Futures. We have multiple different applications. We have the public one that everyone’s familiar with. We have some that are not public, that we could also talk about, that will be public in the future. And to build all of these applications, we really require the typical product team of cross-functional roles, product designers, and engineers working really closely with scientists at Woodwell. And also because Probable Futures is focused on creating something that is beautiful and can exist anywhere. We work very closely with our brand partners on the design side at Moth Design, who have been deeply involved at every step of the way from creating a brand to also building out these products with us. And so it’s a very interdisciplinary piece of work and something where I’m collaborating with people, keeping us focused on the goals and making sure that everyone is aligned with where we’re going.

PF All right, good. Let’s get to the baseline here, which is, and this is the question that every listener will have: how bad is it going to be?

RZ Can I flip that question on its head?

PF Okay. Oh yeah, absolutely.

RZ I think enough people have heard about how bad, how bad, how bad, how bad, and you know, Probable Futures is probably one of the best, most thoughtfully put together narratives about how bad, because it doesn’t lecture you. I think it’s one of the features of Probable Futures. You go to probablefutures.org. It’s not telling you how bad you’ve been, instead just looking outward right. And saying, this is what’s happening and it’s going to continue to happen. Let me ask it in the reverse. What starts to feel—I’m not even going to ask you what is success, because that’s a ridiculous question. I’ll leave that one for God. But what starts to feel like success, not just within Probable Futures, but more broadly in this entire movement? What starts to feel like success? Alison, let’s start with Alison.

[8:55]

AS Success feels like something that we call climate awareness. So individuals, organizations, communities, governments, operating in a way where climate and climate change is a consideration and part of every conversation and decision that you make. We were really—the underpinning idea behind Probable Futures is that we were the beneficiaries of a stable climate for the past 12,000 years. We have been able to build this incredibly sophisticated civilization that we have today only because we had a stable climate that didn’t change. It allowed us to do things like settle and build communities and invent agriculture. And so now we have built it up to the poor point where we have institutions, governments, nation states, Bitcoin. You don’t have Bitcoin in a world where you’re constantly moving to find the good climate.

[10:09]

AS So we’ve been able to build this incredibly sophisticated civilization without ever having to think about climate as it was just this stable thing that didn’t ever change. Now we have to think about it. So when people start to incorporate this climate awareness into their life, even at a very small level, just like going outside and thinking about the fact, well, let’s see, we’re talking to people in the tech and digital space here, but everything in the digital world has some type of connection to something in the physical world. You know, we have wires coming into our homes that are hardwiring internet. We have places in the physical world that have servers systems.

RZ As people, especially people who are in positions of power where they can actually make decisions that impact the world in meaningful ways, are going to bake in climate change into their thinking, into their decision-making, right? So you’re not lobbying, you’re not saying we need to pass laws. You’re going sort of at a higher altitude which is: we need to start to influence thinking—is it CEOs? 

AS Yes. Probable Futures is. I mean there are certainly laws that need to be passed, but you know, the role that we see Probable Futures playing is influencing the way, really fundamental ways, that we think about life and that we make decisions. The idea is that when you factor climate into your decision-making, you start planning for it, you start building it into infrastructure, whether it’s digital infrastructure or physical infrastructure, whatever kind of organizational infrastructure, you start planning for it. And ultimately when you start planning for it, it leads to mitigating it because you can’t really truly comprehensively plan for climate change without thinking about adapting to what is surely coming and then mitigating and avoiding the worst possible impacts.

[12:18]

PF I mean, you’ve been working with digital people for three years now in the form of Postlight and you’re saying, this is our job, right? Like go back, replay our—cause I’ll tell you, I’ll tell the audience a little bit about working with Probable Futures. There was a time where you had to slow us down. We were like, we’re going to ship some software for you. It’s gonna be great. We’re going to solve this climate change thing. We’ve got it all figured out for you. Smart. Relax. And then you sort of took us aside and were like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. You’re not gonna solve this. Like we need to really think these things through. And I think that for me was a really big moment. I know it was for Peter as well, where we had to stop thinking in terms of solutions and more in terms of this kind of ongoing process and relationship. Can you characterize that kind of thinking, because I’ve noticed it’s ver— it is actually something I think people in the climate world take for granted and then for the rest of us out here, just trying to get the job done, how do you line those two worlds up?

AS Yeah. I think climate change is so broad and overwhelming to a lot of people that often were looking for a silver bullet or what’s my 10 things that I can do to solve climate change. And we came at it from the perspective of this is a really comprehensive challenge and it requires a shift in thinking, not a list of 10 things that you can do. And in order to shift people’s thinking we really have to slow down and question assumptions that we’ve had in the past and break some conventions. So when we started working together, Postlight is very let’s get going, let’s hit the ground running. And I don’t think that’s any different from any other well-run organization out there, but we wanted to break conventions and we weren’t going to do that by, let’s say, hit the ground running and get things moving as fast as possible. We needed to slow down to say, to question some of our assumptions and to say, how can we build a digital product that makes people deeply think about something and slow down. And then use that deep thinking to pay attention to other parts of the world. It was—and we were learning at the time too. I mean, I was the first hire of Probable Futures. Postlight was the second. So we knew how important it was to have this product be right and do what we thought needed to be done. But we knew it was going to be super unconventional and very hard. So early on, we knew that we would have to say, let’s slow down and think this through and make sure that we’re not defaulting to things that we think are true or that we think work.

PF Peter, you should talk a little bit through this because you were on the front line of it. Postlight was like, here’s a process for you to follow buddy. And then Probable Futures was like, no, buddy, you’re not going to follow that process. How did you resolve that? What did you notice? Where did you have to grow? What happened?

PC I think this was particularly interesting for me as a product manager because really oftentimes I’m focused on driving things forward and of course making sure we’re going in the right direction. But I think that because the right direction here is so different from most products that we may build in the world, that anyone may build in the world, we really had to take a step back. So we started initially building something that we thought was going to be the right direction. And Spencer and Nelson came back and said, well, all right, this is not the right direction. We need to talk. We need to adjust here. And we decided to slow down our pace. I remember Spencer gave me a book called How To Do Nothing. And that was a great moment to realize, okay, this is definitely a different kind of client that we’re working with here. 

Typically clients we work with are very interested in meeting deadlines and moving quickly. And we said, let’s slow down. Let’s learn. We actually put together—Spencer and Alison put together—a course with partners at Woodwell to teach us more about climate models specifically. So a lot of the work that we do at Probable Futures is translating the wealth of information contained in climate models that scientists have built up over decades of observing the climate, taking that data that is free and openly available. Anyone could download it, but it’s not very accessible. So we turn it into a product that is easy to access. That is simple. It’s beautiful. It’s something that anyone could use. So in order to do that work, we really had to understand climate model data. Very fundamentally. There’s a lot of language in there that was completely foreign to us that we had to learn. There’s all kinds of new file formats on the technical side of things. Paul, you’ve been very close with us. You’ve been working on the translator between net CDFs and SQL.

PF We won’t talk about my coding skills right now, but let me turn this around. Given what you guys just told me, Rich and I have now come to you for consulting. I love turning the tables where I get to be the client. Alison and Peter, you have a lot of knowledge about building climate-focused products and platforms, more than most people in the world. And I am a well-intentioned product manager, engineer type. I’ve been told that we have to do something about climate over here at my company. And I managed to sort of grab you guys at a conference and I’m a little annoying, maybe, a little in your space. It’s a real estate app. I have a house-buying app. Okay. And we care about climate now at my company and I’m a pretty-well intentioned person. Can you guys help me? What do I do? I read your site. It’s really good, but now what do I do?

[18:32] 

AS Yeah, I think the issue is that Probable Futures is there to help kind of orient you and help you to start looking at climate change through the lens of your particular community. And so this particular community is a house-buying app, okay. And so the tools that we’ve built encourage you to do that. And some of these tools are public and out in the open right now, some of them we’re still actually working on. So for example in the public maps we include these stories throughout the maps to help people just kind of get the gears turning of what could happen in a particular place. You know, how climate can impact the power infrastructure in a certain place, or the ability of people to go fishing for recreation in a certain place. And we include these stories just to start to get people’s imaginations going.

We can’t think for you about how climate change is going to impact your particular real-estate application company. What we can do is we can help give you the foundational knowledge that you need to be able to do that thinking for yourself. And so we can provide examples of that to start kind of giving you an imagination for that. And that’s what we do on the public site. In parallel and in the background, we’ve been working on a tool that we’ve been referring to as Probable Futures Professional, which actually allows you to put data on top of climate maps. So then you can say, okay, my company has this particular data set, and I wanna see how that looks on top of the maps that project days above 90 degrees in the future. What do those two things look like together? So, step one would be that public site starting to think through and having an imagination for the ways that that climate can impact your company. And then step two is, okay. Now I’m gonna start to kind of customize this and put these two things together. And ultimately still you are the one who has the knowledge. Probable Futures is about empowering you with information so you can do that thinking. We are not going to come tell your application company what to do. We’re going to give you the tools so that you can do it in the most informed and responsible way.

PF I think this is one of the most complicated things for me in working with you guys is realizing just how much of the world is oriented around solutions and toolkits that they will hand over to you and you go like, oh, okay. I use this now. Right? And that even as someone who saw himself as a very creative thinker, I’d really gotten into the habit of that, especially in the technology world, it is handed to you. And I think that this makes it a lot harder. There’s no consumer product you can buy. There’s no simple platform and there isn’t any anywhere. If you go out shopping and I have, you can’t find climate in a box. It doesn’t exist. It’s not like logging into Schwab and finding out how your bank account is doing.

AS It’s too big. It’s too all encompassing. Like you can’t have climate change made easy. It just doesn’t exist because going back to climate, the climate underpins every aspect of our lives. So you’re not gonna be able to distill that down into, you know, one quick and easy tool. What we can do is just make that thinking and that kind of work easier for you by giving you access to the wealth of information that climate scientists have been developing over the past 40 years.

[22:33]

RZ Paul, Peter, Alison, you’ve all worked closely together. I have been sort of outside or observing Probable Futures. So this is kind of a question for everybody. A lot of this strikes me as really challenging, mainly because people’s tolerance for consuming information is just kind of shitty. You’re competing with 60 seconds. You’re competing with one paragraph. You’re competing with a funny picture. And what I’m hearing here is like, it’s funny where we like to build tools at Postlight, but your mission is to change people’s awareness and change people’s decision trees about how they think about the world, which is like, whoa, I haven’t seen that slick piece of software to sort that out. So in many ways you’re trying to get in there and seep into people’s thinking. Do you think that’s hard? [Paul laughs.] Do you think that’s well—no, let me ask it differently. A) Obviously it’s hard. A two part question, is that terrifying? Do you just kind of keep going? And B) How do you even measure progress? How do you even say, ah, you know what we’re making headway, you know?

AS Yeah. I mean, you’ve honed in on the biggest challenge of being the executive director of Probable Futures. [Rich laughs.] Spencer and I always knew this was audacious if not absurdly ambitious, but the fact is we are facing a crisis. And so there’s no other time to be audacious or absurdly ambitious than now. So yes, it’s hard. Our strategy is not to necessarily get into the minds of every single person in the world. I mean, would it be great if everyone on earth were getting out of Probable Futures what we intended them to get out of Probable Futures? Sure. But actually what would be even better is that every different community has their own version of Probable Futures. So, you know, as we talk about intended audiences, target audiences, our target audiences are the people who are training people in their community to implement climate change initiatives. We’re training the trainers and inspiring the storytellers. Our intention is not that Probable Futures is the only go-to resource. We hope that there are many, many different versions of Probable Futures and many different kinds of communities. You know, you could see a particular industry with their own customized version of Probable Futures, looking at climate change through their lens. You could see that in a particular community, looking at climate change through the lens of their region and what matters to them culturally, what matters to them economically. So that’s the strategy that we have employed: is to make these tools and this information as available and accessible as possible. So these other communities can take it and interpret it for their own groups and build upon it.

[25:55]

PF Sure. And the content’s reusable, right? Like I think, is it licensed for the world? How does that work? 

AS It’s creative commons 4.0, I think. But yeah, you can use it for commercial purposes. You can use it for non-commercial purposes. 

PF Ready for translation, ready for—

AS Yeah, we want people to use it. That is a version of success for Probable Futures is that, you know, people are using it in their own ways and it doesn’t even have to necessarily connect back to Probable Futures. We just want to see people using this information.

RZ Two, I think, helpful closing questions. What are some resources besides Probable Futures that you like, that you would point people to?

AS Well, I mean, this actually goes back to your comment earlier Rich about people’s ability to take in information. So we’re used to taking in little bits of information on the web, right? But we still do things like read books and those are the things that tend to prompt us to do the deepest thinking. And those are the things, at least for me, that tend to really change my mind or change my thinking about something where I take the time. And a book gives you the signal, or you’re used to the relationship with the book, where you spend a lot of time with it. You’re not used to that relationship with content you see on Facebook—that’s quick hits. So that’s one of the reasons why we designed Probable Futures to kind of feel like a book, knowing that this is in a digital space, but so that you can come back to it and spend time with it. So we didn’t design it to be snackable content.

[27:40]

RZ What’s next for Probable Futures? What’s the future look like for Probable Futures? Do you see what I did there?

AS So clever. [Rich laughs.] Yeah, we are still building the platform. So on the site right now, we have heat content. And very soon we are releasing the water volume with precipitation maps and the land volume with drought and potentially other kinds of maps will come after that. So we’re still in building mode. I mentioned this tool that we’re building in Parallel Probable Futures Pro, and we would like to make that public, once we get past the alpha user stage and build it to a point that it’s really useful. And ultimately what we wanna do is work with users. We want to support people and organizations that have ways that they can use Probable Futures and demonstrate uses of this, of the maps and the way of thinking. So we’ll orient ourselves to spend a lot of time with supporting partners after we reach some level of completeness of the Probably Futures platform, but that said, the site and the platform will continue to evolve over time. There will be parts of the platform that are frankly not going to change a lot because the science is really a stay established and really isn’t gonna change. So a lot of the narrative content that you see on the site will probably stay the same. I mean, might a lot evolve a little with some feedback. But the maps themselves, I mean the climate models are advancing over time. And so we will update Probable Futures as new climate models come online.

PF A lot of times when people are talking about climate, it’s really like there’s one or two things that really pop up like sea level is big. There we go, New York City’s going to be underwater, bad times, fish in the city hall kind of thing. But the reality is that, and this is what Probable Futures is trying to capture, is that it’s a lot of different indicators. A lot of different things are going to be happening and happening at once. So there are maps right now of heat and the number of hot days compared to the number of hot days in the past. And this is how you understand this stuff. It’s in the context of what is likely to happen versus what typically happened in the past. And that’s a simplification, but also relatively accurate, like how much hotter will it be? How much more or less rain, how much more or less drought. And unfortunately for a lot of this stuff, the answer is more. There’s going to be a lot more intense and difficult weather going forward. Help me just a little bit as a user. And as you know, the person who’s trying to create a mental model of this, let’s say I go to Probable Futures now and I look at the maps and I see that it is going to be hot. It’s going to be above 90 degrees, 30 days, 40 days a year. Whereas it used to only be that hot, like five days a year. And that’s at a two degree global warming scenario. It’s going to be, you know, possibly in the next couple of decades. I can really look at that. And I think about my house. I’m like, well, I’ll turn the AC on or something. You know, like when I get that piece of information that it’s gonna be hot more in the relatively near future, what do you want me to do with it next?

[30:57]

PC One thing here that I hear Probable Futures saying a lot is to imagine, to kind of take a step back and think, okay, well, what are all the things that I depend on that are related to that? So what do I eat that requires being grown in certain temperatures? Are there people who work outside, who can’t work outside and in certain temperatures that are going to be above certain thresholds. And so this is where I think the framing of Probable Futures as being take a step back and use that framing that you’ve internalized to apply to your particular domain can be so effective. Because no one’s going to be able to walk up to someone and say, you are a specific XYZ professional. Therefore you need to do this, but we all have our own expertise. And so we can all imagine that with certain changes coming, certain things are going to need to be different. So I think of imagining there when I hear that question and one thing for me personally, I like reading novels that are related to future climate changes because they help me imagine.

AS One thing that I would add to that is making connections. So we live in this really hyper globalized world at this point. And I think the pandemic has given us a little bit of a more—of a better imagination for how much we’ve optimized these globalized systems and how, when, you know, one link in the system goes down, things can really fall apart. One ship gets stuck in the Suez canal, like literally one ship and life changes in different ways for people. Mapping back these connections and not—I’ve talked a lot here about looking at things through the lens of your own community, but that doesn’t only mean in your region. So think about the things that matter to your community and then start making the connections back to all the other things that influence your ability to have those things or to do those things.

RZ I think this is a good closing point. When you watch the news and see world events that are happening 10,000 miles away. The prior pandemics—which weren’t really pandemics, they were outbreaks like MERS and SARS and I’m probably saying this stuff wrong—but it felt like it would, you immediately think about yourself, your family, your house, your block, your community, and then you get on with it. And I think everyone does that calculation. When Probable Futures started to show us the early maps, I would immediately—my eye would go to where I was on the map. Right? And that’s not selfish. I think that’s very natural.

PF I don’t think you can have these conversations until you let people process that.

[33:56]

RZ I think that’s right. I think that’s right.

PF You need: where is my house, where is my family, where am I from? 

RZ Yes. Where are the things that I love? 

PF And then they can think about how that connects to the rest of the world.

RZ That’s right. That’s right. And that is a process. People see a lot of struggle and a lot of difficulty on a screen on their phones. That’s how they see it—that’s the extent of it. And I think this is at another scale.

PF I mean, you know what else, Richard? We don’t just live in this globalized economy where everything is optimized. And that’s not this arbitrary thing outside of our work—our work and the things that we do are actually in that context, right? Like we have processes at work for good ship dates. We try to get things as tight as possible. Postlight is run as a very tight shop. And we’re very aware of where our employees are in the world and how they’re doing, but we don’t think about where our competitors’ employees live or how vulnerable they are. Right? 

RZ Correct.

PF Or I don’t worry about what Microsoft’s up to on a day to day basis. They’ll take care of themselves. Right? So I think we live in that optimized world and we participate in it. And getting out of that context is hard because it’s really against everything we all do every day.

RZ It’s a normal coping mechanism because our brains, it’s hard for us to actually process all the struggles around the world that could potentially affect us eventually in a domino effect. That’s just too much, right? We can worry about the weekend. We can worry about our jobs and that’s kind of where it stops. So it is at an unprecedented scale.

PF Yep.So last question, Peter, Alison, where do we find that 275 trillion?

[35:40]

AS I heard Postlight’s doing pretty well. I feel like you can make a contribution. [Rich laughs.]

PF Hello@postlight.com. Thank you. We’re a great and growing firm. Give us a little time and we’ll be able to give the global climate change movement $275 trillion.

RZ Let’s make a dent. [Rich laughs.]

PF Maybe, okay. It might take a little too long. Any other ideas, Peter? Say we have to tax everybody.

PC I think the alternative is we lose. We lose so much. So it’s like, what can we do to keep what we have? That’s why Probable Futures talk so much about a risk mindset. It’s not that we have this bill we have to pay. I mean, we do, but it’s really like, how can we keep the things that we have and we love in this world? The seasons that we love, the food that we love, the art and civilization that we love. So, yeah I think it’s really: what can we do to keep those. 

RZ He puts you in your place, Paul. It’s not about money.

PF Well, no, I mean, this is like when you buy a house and you’re like, is this house worth that money? And the realtor goes well, you know, it really is a personal decision, isn’t it? A house is where a family is—and so that’s true, but for the whole earth. 

AS And in that analogy, the house is going to be much more expensive if you wait longer. So Peter’s exactly right. I mean, it’s a big bill, but compared to what?

[37:10]

PF Well, it’s either a gut reno or it burns down. So I guess we’ve got to do the gut reno.

AS We designed this process. We wanted this thought process to be three things: useful, intuitive, and personal. So useful, meaning that people could actually use it to inform their own real-world decisions. Intuitive in that you don’t have to be a climate scientist to really understand it, that it’s geared towards the average citizen like you and me. And personal in that it wouldn’t strike this typical science dispassionate tone that, you know, we would acknowledge our humanity as authors of the site and your humanity as users of the site and acknowledge the difficulty of seeing these probable futures up close. So the process that you describe is actually the process that leads to really deep thinking about this and changing the way that you think about climate change. 

PF All right, so next step for everybody: probablefutures.org. Trust me, it’s very, very good and you want to go there and start to orient your thinking around this big change. That is absolutely coming, but in the meantime, you might have to build some digital products, including some that are climate sensitive. Rich, if I wanted to get in touch with someone, where would I send an email?

RZ Hello@postlight.com. It feels a little distasteful to sell our services, but people know who we are. Alison, Peter, thank you so much for doing this. Good conversation. Big, big, hairy problem.

PF We’ll get it.

[38:53]

PC Thank you for having us.

[Intro music begins, ramps up.]

AS Thanks for having us and thank you for your great work on Probable Futures. I don’t think it’s distasteful at all because we are going to need lots and lots of good tools to get through this.

PF Boy, are we.