technological constraints. In contrast to the rough-and-ready simplicity energy balance models and the individual specialization of EMICs, CGCMs are designed to be both general and detailed: they are designed to model as many of the important factors driving the Earth’s climate as well as they possibly can. This is a very tall order, and the project of crafting CGCMs raises serious problems that EBMs and EMICs both manage to avoid. Because of their comprehensiveness, though, they offer the best chance for a good all-things-considered set of predictions about the future of Earth’s climate.
The implementation of CGCMs is best understood as a careful balancing act between the considerations raised in Chapter Five. CGCMs deliberately incorporate facts about the interplay between atmospheric, oceanic, and terrestrial features of the global climate system, and thus directly confront many of the feedback mechanisms that regulate the interactions between those coupled subsystems of the Earth’s climate. It should come as no surprise, then, that most CGCMs prominently feature systems of nonlinear equations, and that one of the primary challenges of working with CGCMs revolves around how to handle these non-linearities. While the use of supercomputers to simulate the behavior of the global climate is absolutely essential if we’re to do any useful work with CGCMs, fundamental features of digital computers give rise to a set of serious challenges for researchers seeking to simulate the behavior of the global climate. The significance of these challenges must be carefully weighed against the potentially tremendous power of well-implemented CGCMs. In the end, I shall argue that CGCMs are best understood not as purely predictive models, but rather as artifacts whose role is to help us make decisions about how to proceed in our study of (and interaction with) the global climate.