Will the warming planet be able to sustain coming generations? Few questions about the future matter more. But although modellers can forecast temperature changes and even precipitation, they struggle to say how climate change will affect the factors that make the planet habitable, such as food and water availability. Last week at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany, researchers launched a fast-track programme to make their narratives of possible futures more coherent and useful to decision-makers.