What does it mean when you put these two ideas together?
You might think it means that there is uncertainty about whether climate change is real – about whether it is really happening, about whether it’s a result of humn activity, about whether it matters. We’d love it if it did mean that, but no – basic science provides confidence that the world’s climate is changing, and why. But there is uncertainty about exactly what this means will happen.
Why doesn’t this uncertainty mean that the whole subject is still undecided? This website is all about that question – how we can have complete confidence about certain things, even if parts of the picture are subject to great uncertainty. Look at it this way – if you roll a dice, you don’t know what number will come up. That is uncertainty. But you know you’ll only be able to roll a number which is actually on the dice. That is a source of confidence.
The more information we can gain about uncertainties, the greater confidence we can have in the predictions we make which hang on them. This is because uncertainty is more complicated than you might think. In fact, uncertainty is like ice cream – it comes in different flavours. This website is all about climate change and uncertainty.
Getting your head round climate change and uncertainty can seem tricky because you have to piece together a jig-saw of knowledge: a few pieces from physics and chemistry, some from statistics, a bit or two from maths, perhaps some corner pieces of philosophy. But the real trouble is finding the pieces. That involves picking your way through a maze of information. You can't jump in anywhere but different paths can lead to the same place. That's why this site is designed the way it is.
To find out more about the flavours of uncertainty, the things we can be confident about, and how we can gain confidence by better understanding uncertainty, try exploring. Start with one of the buttons below. They lead to four pathways into the maze - some are short and self-contained (dead-ends but still interesting), others are long and can lead all the way through.
There are videos and interactives along the way. You can jump to them from the top menu but they won't make much sense untill you've been through the maze. Whatever you do, read on! Find out about one of the greatest scientific challenges of our time – knowing what we can predict in the future!