Letter to the Editor of West Newsmagazine

Rebuttals to two recent letters, one about ICLEI and the other about climate change, to the editor of West Newsmagazine.

This is an expanded version of a letter I'm sending to the editor of West Newsmagazine.

Two recent letters to the editor were concerned with facts. The first, from Marjie Saiter on 9/26/12, decried membership in ICLEI as forfeiture of sovereignty to the UN. Town & Country has been a member of ICLEI for several years now, and I have not seen any evidence of a UN takeover. Nor do I see evidence of what the letter calls ICLEI's “thicket of demands.”

This is from the ICLEI website:

ICLEI is a nonprofit with no authority over its local government members whatsoever, and we do not work in secret or in any way circumvent public input in decision-making processes. We do not mandate, impose, or enforce any national or international policies or initiatives. All ICLEI programs and projects are voluntary, and local governments decide for themselves which programs they wish to participate in; they define their own goals depending on local circumstances, interests, and abilities.

Yes, ICLEI could be lying, and, based on the amount of fearmongering about world government, many people believe they are, but can an example be given of American sovereignty being forfeited because of ICLEI membership, or is there proof that that is ICLEI's goal? The letter mentions none. Unless there is, the “facts” the letter refers to are only allegations.


The second letter is from Rick and Ann Standal on 10/3/12, and argues that facts prove that the climate is not influenced by human activity, and that anyone who believes it is has no facts, but only faith, to support his position. Several “facts” are cited as proof. I am not a scientist, so I will defer to scientists when addressing the “facts.”

1. The last 10-plus years the climate has been cooling

From SkepticalScience.org:

When looking for evidence of global warming, there are many different indicators that we should look for. Whilst it's natural to start with air temperatures, a more thorough examination should be as inclusive as possible; snow cover, ice melt, air temperatures over land and sea, even the sea temperatures themselves. A 2010 study included 10 key indicators, and ... every one of them is moving in the direction expected of a warming globe.

2. NASA, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and others, show that the oceans have been cooling

We agree than NASA and the NSIDC are credible – good. This is from NASA's website:

What's causing Earth's climate to change? Most scientists think that recent warming can’t be explained by nature alone. Most scientists say it's very likely that most of the warming since the mid-1900s is due to the burning of coal, oil and gas.

This is from the NSIDC's website:

Is climate change (or global warming) happening? [Yes] In the past fifty years, the amounts of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane in our atmosphere have increased rapidly. They now stand at levels far in excess of those indicated by deep ice cores spanning the past several hundred thousand years. A portion of today's CO2 gas contains a 'fingerprint' (i.e., its isotopic make-up) that is consistent with fossil fuel burning.

3. Sea ice is at the same level as 30 years ago

From NSIDC: “Satellite observations since 1979 show that sea ice melted to its lowest extent in the satellite record, during August 2012.” More info here.

4. Violent tornadoes are declining

Weather and climate are not the same thing, but if you're looking for extreme weather, how about this from the NOAA:

The January-August [2012] period was the warmest first eight months of any year on record for the contiguous United States. … The September 2011-August 2012 period was the warmest such 12-month period on record for the contiguous U.S. ... This 12-month temperature average ranks as the fourth warmest of any 12-month period. The five warmest 12-month periods have all ended during 2012.

And this from NASA:

The global average surface temperature in 2011 was the ninth warmest since 1880, according to NASA scientists. The finding continues a trend in which nine of the 10 warmest years in the modern meteorological record have occurred since the year 2000.

5. Polar bear numbers are increasing

Dr. Steven Amstrup, who has studied polar bears for 30 years, says this:

One of the most frequent myths we hear about polar bears is that their numbers are increasing and have, in fact, more than doubled over the past thirty years. Tales about how many polar bears there used to be (with claims as low as 5,000 in the 1960s) are undocumented, but cited over and over again. Yet no one I know can come up with a legitimate source for these numbers.

More info on this topic here.


According to Wikipedia, over 75 scientific bodies of national or international standing, including the US National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of the UK, the American Medical Association, the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, the European Geosciences Union, the African Academy of Sciences, and the American Meteorological Society all agree that the climate is changing because of human activity. Are they not credible?

The Maya, the Anasazi, and the Easter Islanders are examples of societies that collapsed in large part because of environmental degradation. In effect, they committed suicide. Let's not go that way. We can start by getting facts about climate from climate scientists, not from George Will, lawyers at the Heartland Institute, or other non-experts.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Dirk Maas October 12, 2012 at 11:59 PM
The Standal letter mentioned above is available here: http://www.newsmagazinenetwork.com/2012100224698/its-a-matter-of-faith/
Lany Clough October 13, 2012 at 12:40 AM
Great points, Dirk. Well-researched and reasonable. Thank you!
Talie M. December 09, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Where did you find that last statement about the Maya, Anasazi, and Easter Islanders? I've never heard that before.
Dirk Maas December 09, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Timely comment, Talie. It's from a book by Jared Diamond: "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed" and I'm almost done with a review of it. Look for a new blog post soon.


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