PerspectiveAtmospheric Science

Top-Down Versus Bottom-Up

Science  04 Jun 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5983, pp. 1241-1243
DOI: 10.1126/science.1189936

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Summary

Greenhouse gas emissions are currently quantified from statistical data without testing the results against the actual increases of these gases in the atmosphere. This is like dieting without weighing oneself. Data are produced by greenhouse gas emitters of all sizes, from factory or farm to nation, and are quoted to high precision—yet misreporting occurs, whether by simple error, ignorance, or intention. But now scientists on both sides of the Atlantic are arguing that regulation of greenhouse gas emissions can have integrity only if verified by direct atmospheric measurements (1, 2).