A delightful fellow, naming himself Jay Currie from Oak Bay, who may or may not have a wordpress site by the same name, has had a letter to the editor printed in the local news paper (The Saanich News -- it looks like the letter itself won't be online until at least next week). The letter makes the usual denial claims about climate change and arctic ice. Here are his points in summary:

1) The recent arctic ice loss only matches the low ice cover from the 1920s and 1930s.

1b) and by the way there's a lot of ice in Antarctica, "13th highest ice area ever measured"

2) There is no sea-level rise, "it's virtually nonexistant"

3) this year's drought in the USA was not as bad as what happened in the 1980s and 1930s.

4) This year's drought was "largely offset by a wet, cold summer in Northern Europe".

Now here comes the part where he admits there might be some truth to this whole climate change thing.

5) CO2 is a greenhouse gas and is likely to cause global temperatures to rise but not much.

But then he reverts to form:

6) models are crap, "The models which suggest otherwise [more than a little warming] are filled with uncertainty, data issues and the absence of actual observation"

His conclusion: "To formulate policy based on science as immature as 'climate science' is a recipe for getting it wrong."

What can we learn from this list of claims? Firstly, since the list pretty closely matches what you see written by other copycat denial types under news items on the CBC or Globe and Mail (both despised by the denial community here in Canada as far as I can tell). It seems to me that these folks somehow manage to talk to each other or at least just copy the same anti-science sources for the latest talking points.

Secondly, I suppose it is in some sense encouraging to see that this community has at least apparently accepted the basics (CO2 is a greenhouse gas and will cause warming). That shows that at least some progress has been made.

To reply to the paper in writing or not. That, I suppose, is the question.

Here's my response:

Dear Editor,

Letter writer Jay Currie (Saanich News, 19 September, 2012) makes some extraordinary claims about a number of climate and climate change related topics. It's good to see that he is at least on the right track with his acknowledgement that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and that it is causing warming. He's finally caught up, in his science education, to the level of knowledge that we had more than 100 years ago. He does have a long way to go still if he wants to understand why just about everything else he claimed is wrong.
Luckily for him and for all of your readers there are many accurate, interesting, and useful resources available these days. The IPCC AR4 Physical Science Basis report would be a good place to start and is freely available on the internet.

I encourage Mr. Currie and others who share similar beliefs to spend a bit of effort to improve their knowledge about the world. It will benefit them (and all of us) since we do have some important and difficult decisions to make together in the near future. Some political leadership on this issue would be nice as well but that's a topic for other letters.


Ed Wiebe

Here's a sample of the interesting information Jay Currie should probably start with. 


After he reads that he should follow up with the papers listed here:


The thing about the Skeptical Science web site is that they provide references. References that others can read. Something every graduate student learns is that this soon leads to an almost never-ending journey of reading more and more papers, going back farther and farther in the understanding and history of a particular subject. It's really quite awesome.