How can scientists predict 2050?

Let’s gamble, with science.
Scientists use supercomputers to simulate how hot the world could get with climate change. The Earth’s climate is complicated, so scientists don’t come up with one forecast, they come up with hundreds. Using these forecasts, they can figure out the odds of the climate changing by a little or a lot.

We squeezed hundreds of climate forecasts from MIT into a single dice that you can roll. Each side of the dice represents a 2050 world that was forecasted 1 every 6 times. The higher the number, the hotter it gets.

Luckily, humanity isn’t solely at the mercy of the fates. If we accelerate clean energy and lower pollution, we decrease the odds of a hotter and more precarious world. So the dice show you two results for each roll, the first for a 2050 world if we do nothing, the second for a 2050 world if we adopted clean energy.

Try rolling the dice, and see what MIT thinks the world could be like in 2050.


Feeling Lucky?
Let’s take a look at the entire range of climate forecasts for 2050.


And 2050 isn’t the last year on earth. What if we look farther into the future, to 2090?


How were the climate dice created?
Gambling is about risk, and so is climate change. How willing are we to risk more extreme climate change? What’s too risky? It would help to know what these numbers mean for the world. We can learn from the dinosaurs.

What does a couple degrees warmer actually mean?
To understand our warmer future we can look to the warmer past. Around the time the dinosaurs roamed the Earth, 56 million years ago, the planet was 9°F to 14°F hotter. At that point, the North and South Poles were free of ice caps, and palm trees and crocodiles lived above the Arctic Circle.(1),(2) This would not be good for our world of 7 billion people.

Even a few degree change can make a world of difference. Imagine that the earth is like a person with a fever. A couple degrees of fever isn’t too dangerous, but a few more can be deadly.

“Take the human body. If your temperature rises 2°C (3.6°F), you have a significant fever. If it rises 4°C or 6°C (7.2°F-10.8°F) you can die. It’s not a linear change.”
– John Schellnhuber, Chair of the German Advisory Council on Global Change, April 2014(3)

A couple extra degrees of heat in 2050 won’t end the world, but it will likely be nasty. A warmer world risks more severe droughts and wildfires in the western United States(4) and coastal flooding from Florida to New York.(5),(6)

Like the dice game, this all a gamble. We don’t know exactly what will happen to the climate if we do nothing. But this gamble is just too dangerous and risky to take.

“There’s no way the world can or should take these risks”
– Ronald Prinn, MIT Joint Program, May 2009(7)

Leaving a Legacy
Taking action for cleaner energy–nuclear, wind, solar–makes the future world more safe and less risky, for ourselves and for all kids being born today.


Source: ClearPath based on MIT data

Accelerating clean energy will improve the odds of a brighter future. And these are changes that America would want to make anyway: better cars, a stronger military, cleaner air, more energy independence, and power that doesn’t pollute. America can lead the world, if we decide to act.




  1. NOAA
  2. NASA
  3. Vox
  4. ClearPath
  5. New York Panel on Climate Change
  6. Southeast Florida Regional Climate Compact
  7. MIT

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