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Global Warming: Significant Shortcomings of Computer Climate Models

April 2001

Citation: ELR 10432

Author: Robert C. Barnard, Donald L. Morgan

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol provides for a 5% reduction in 1990 levels of greenhouse gases by 2008-2012 in order to stem global warming. The developed nations have agreed to specific greenhouse gas reduction levels; the U.S. quota reduction is 7%.1 The Kyoto Protocol also provides broad objectives, the details of which are to be worked by the Conference of the Parties.

Computer climate models are used to develop forecasts of future climate changes in order to provide a basis to assess impacts of climate changes and to devise mitigation of, or adjustment to, such changes. Thus, computer climate models must be reliable and accurate if we are to plan intelligently and responsibly for our world's future. Unfortunately, current climate models are inadequate. Two recent major reports, although drafts for external review, provide insight on the shortcomings of existing climate models.

Robert C. Barnard is Of Counsel to, and Donald L. Morgan is Senior Partner in, the Washington, D.C., law firm Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton.

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