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Html THE GREENHOUSE GASES AND THEIR EFFECTS 20 the best available tools for anticipating climatic changes. Data from previous interglacial periods can be compared to results from computer models. Past conditions, however, are inexact metaphors for current increases in atmospheric concentrations of trace gases. In order to simulate the intricate climatic system, GCMs themselves are complicated. They are complex computational schemes incorporating well-established scientific laws, empirical knowledge, and implicit representations.

To some extent the natural temperature variation in the climatic system makes it difficult to interpret the observational record. In particular, it is not possible to determine how much, if any, of the average global temperature rise over the last century might be attributed to greenhouse warming. Increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases may produce changes in both the magnitude and the rate of change of global average temperature that have few or no precedents in the earth's recent history.

SOURCE: C. McEvedy and R. Jones. 1978. Atlas of World Population History. Middlesex, United Kingdom: Penguin. 2. 1 presents emission estimates for five greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, CFC-11, CFC-12, and N2O) that accounted for about 87 percent of the increase in the heat-trapping capacity of the atmosphere in the 1980s and about 92 percent of the increase over the previous 100 years. The table presents estimated 1985 emissions (in million tons per year) and converts non-CO2 Copyright © National Academy of Sciences.

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