The National Academy of Sciences offers a new framework for addressing global warming issues

R C Barnard, D L Morgan
Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology: RTP 2000, 31 (1): 112-6
The recent landmark report by the National Academy of Sciences reviewed the science on which the Kyoto Protocol was based. NAS concluded that the policy choices and the mandatory reductions in greenhouse gases by the developed nations were based on incomplete science with significant uncertainties. In view of these uncertainties the NAS report developed a comprehensive strategic 10-year research program to address the basic issue of whether human activity that results in environmental changes is responsible for climate changes. The report provides a new framework for consideration of global warming issues. The UN International Panel on Climate Change (the UN science advisor) in its 1997 report to the Kyoto parties pointed out the confusing difference between scientific usage of the term "climate change" that distinguishes human from natural causes of change and the official usage that combines natural and human causes of changes in climate. The conclusion of the UN panel on human causes is equivocal. The 1999 report of the U.S. Global Science Research Committee also reached an equivocal conclusion on human causes and announced a 10-year research program to be developed in consultation with NAS. The precautionary measures provided in the 1992 UN Framework Convention differ from the ill-defined "precautionary principle" based on fear of uncertainty, and are consistent with the objectives of the NAS proposed research program. These developments together with the third report of the UN Intergovernmental Science Panel on developments in climate science due in 2001 merit consideration by the convention of the parties under the Kyoto Protocol.

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