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A life propagandic

The BBC's Life Scientific strand today featured Joanna Haigh, the Imperial College physicist who studies links between the sun and the climate, although she is not above a bit of propaganda for the greens either.

The programme was excruciating. One reader emailed to say she'd switched off after hearing about two minutes of it. We heard about how much easier it is to predict the climate than the weather, with not even a question mark raised over the failure of the climate models to predict the climate in recent decades. There was a section that could best be described as a promotional podcast for the IPCC. And there was an extended section in which Haigh bemoaned the climate "deniers" closely followed by others in which she was lauded by a colleague for her outreach efforts to those who dissent from the climate mainstream and another in which she told us how hard she tried to be polite. The lack of self-awareness was almost comical.

Once again, the BBC has done a full-scale propaganda piece for the IPCC and the green movement. The spirit of the Cambridge Media and Environment Programme is alive and well within the corporation.

The audio, for those with strong stomachs, should be here in the next couple of hours.

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Reader Comments (107)

But the trouble is that our policy makers hear, and believe such propaganda. And the greenies know it.

Aug 27, 2013 at 9:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

What a coincidence. My wife recorded the programme and has just asked me if I want to listen to yet another Radio 4 propaganda programme.

Aug 27, 2013 at 9:55 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Life's too damn short to suffer fools gladly.

Aug 27, 2013 at 10:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterOrson

The use of term 'deniers' is both insulting, basically incorrect and has no scientific basis , so once again the ‘professional’s ‘ of climate science fail to match the standard they would expect of their own students writing an essay.

And once gain we are show that the dramatic lack of scientific integrity within climate ‘science’ is more than made up for by the dramatic levels of ego and arrogance.

Aug 27, 2013 at 10:20 AM | Unregistered Commenterknr

It is of course mostly the fault of the interviewer Jim Al Kalili. As an interviewer he's awful, of the what do you want to say variety. No insightful questioning, no challenging. He's a typical 'BBC Scientist' who won't offend or even inconvenience anyone.

I saw him in a documentary about the universe last year broadcast on BBC 1. He was sitting around a campfire at night watching the sparks mingle among the stars. It was a straight copy of a similar scene in Carl Sagan's Cosmos of 30 years earlier. Jim clearly has a platform, courtesy of the BBC, but also clearly nothing new to say. Just like Brian Cox.

I'm fed up of the smug, "aren't I intellectual and famous' BBC science presenters who, in the end, say nothing.

Oh for a new Sagan and Bronovski.

Aug 27, 2013 at 10:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterKim

I heard an advert for the programme around 0830 which specically mentioned dealing with 'climate change deniers' so at that point I knew I was not going to listen to it.

Aug 27, 2013 at 10:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

Sorry Josh she also had a go at you, in a round about way!

Aug 27, 2013 at 10:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeilC

It's the school holidays, so influencing young minds.
- Would haigh & al-Khalili use the word DENIER in a primary school class debate ?
Is framing a debate by using LOADED ad-hom terms OK ?

The prog was like it being broadcast straight out of the Greenpeace office, with 2 activists both supporting the same cause.
- Misleading statement, after misleading statement ...with no challenging at all

Aug 27, 2013 at 10:40 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

I made the mistake of listening and it was about as bad as it gets. It was interesting to hear her wanting more money for satellites to study the sun and the increase and decrease in energy being emitted. However at the same time she felt that had nothing to do with the 'global warming' which was clearly all man-made.

If the sun has no influence, why the need to study so carefully? The point is, she is only too well aware of the effect of the sun but likes to put over the consensus CAGW lie.

A disgrace to scientists.

Aug 27, 2013 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterMatthewS

I should add, that Professor Haigh did say she would respond personally to any letters she received in relation to CAGW. She said that she would politely point out why the 'deniers' were wrong. There's a challenge.

In case you are tempted to write, her address is Professor Joanna Haigh, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Imperial College London, South Kensington College, London, SW7 2AZ.

Aug 27, 2013 at 10:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterMatthewS

- There is this Haigh Anxiety cartoon in WUWT so maybe the Haigh cartoon was not a Josh

She has form Roger Tall Bloke pulled her up about propagandizing in the Telegraph
Haigh : "He suggests that the cold weather is due to declining solar activity – but the sun is more active now than it has been since 2009, and about the same as it was in 2004 and 1998"
TB : "So, Joanna compares the peak of extremely low current solar cycle 24 with the value half way up and down solar cycle 23. I won’t be taking anything else she says seriously in future. It’s a nice demonstration of how you can mislead the public while being factually correct though."

Haigh :"long-term global average warming due to greenhouse gas increases. This is not an issue of opinion, but one of basic physics."
TB : "taking the results of lab tests on the ‘basic physics’ of IR absorption and extrapolating it with no justification whatsoever to the real atmosphere where gases are not bounded by bell jars" ..but rather has evidence that natural variability is stronger than co2 forcing (so probably causing recent warming & cooling periods)

- Maybe next week the show will have the famous MMR scare doctor Andrew Wakefield on with one of his mates doing the interviewing ? (we don't need balance if we say there is a consensus enough times)

Aug 27, 2013 at 10:57 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Ah, the BBC and its guests -- they're such Good People and better and smarter than everyone else, which is why they spend so much time talking to one another.

The fact that most of them don't know how many beans make five is something they would rather not be faced with, so The Debate Is Over.

Aug 27, 2013 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

I've been trying to get on with other things other than climate recently, but hearing the program was on I was interested to hear the latest info (I assumed after Roger Harrabin's work, the BBC - whilst not expected to be impartial on climate - would however grudgingly stick to the evidence and have stopped the previous propaganda).

But within seconds, out came the libel. "Denier" and lie "the climate IS warming".

Denier: it's such a stupid insult. Overwhelmingly sceptics support the science of CO2 greenhouse effect that we have good evidence for about 1C warming when CO2 is doubled and everything else is just hyperbole, bad modelling & bad science. And "climate change" of course we support that concept as almost all we see has been natural non-man-made climate change that has occurred since the earth had a climate and will continue long after the BBC is dead and buried.

And the BBC really have been pathetically biased recently with them jumping on every single green nut-case campaign from fracking to badgers. Compare that to their silence on anti-windfarm groups!

And to put it in context, yesterday I was in Fort William. I was studiously avoiding climate and talking to the Bed & Breakfast owner's brother who was a lorry driver about their loads. He said he'd got a lot of business moving wind farm parts. When I showed some interest, he went on (at quite some length) calling them "Alex Salmond's folly". This is a person who ought to be in favour ... who is getting money from wind ... but without prompting was highly critical of the SNP wind policy.

The BBC are just out of touch with real life & with real science.

Another once great British institution soon to go the way of all that British industry!

Aug 27, 2013 at 11:00 AM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

Oh what a shock. I stopped listening to the Life Scientific. Jim al-Khalili uses his programme to promote the science behind AGW, but I very much doubt he's EVER read a single sceptic piece on the subject. People tend to read things that confirm their already strongly held opinions, don't they.

It's a shame because he's quite a good science communicator.

Aug 27, 2013 at 11:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobinson

If Prof Haigh is so keen on satellites, perhaps she should comment on the latest Meteosat analysis:

And tell us why it is is so badly flawed.

Aug 27, 2013 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

To be fair to Jim Al-Khalili he is a good presenter in my opinion and I saw an excellent programme where he debated the pros and cons of nuclear power, which was scientific rather than green propaganda. This was more of a personality interview and I don't think you can expect a demolition job. A woman who's a scientist and fervent believer in man made climate change. Obviously she ticks all the BBC boxes. I prefer Donna's view of the IPCC to her version.

Aug 27, 2013 at 11:21 AM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

Robinson: "People tend to read things that confirm their already strongly held opinions, don't they."


I listened to the program knowing the BBC have never once reported on climate in an unbiased way. I knew I would get a lot of non-science propaganda, but I had expected that after Black's demise, that the real science supported by us sceptics would also get a mention.

That is in my view the real difference between sceptics and the BBC stooges and propagandists. Sceptics do listen to views and seek out information even when they know it may contradict their current views .... because our views are based on the evidence, and if we found new evidence that contradicts our current views, we would be right to change it.

But these stooges ... their only basis for their views appears to be that falsehood that "nasty people don't like our views so our views must be 'nice' and therefore our views are right".

They are the ones who refuse to listen to the overwhelming deluge of evidence that supports our assessment of the climate and the (non)danger of CO2.

After all it is not that I "deny" the evidence supporting their views ... it is just that there is no evidence to deny.

Like UFO's I don't deny aliens ... I just have never come across any credible evidence of their existence so like CO2 doomsayers, UFO freaks aren't something I can "deny" ... because as soon as I see any credible evidence that CO2 is causing any harm just like as soon as I see an alien ... Although ... there is a credible argument for aliens ... an infinite number of planets but a very small chance of aliens means alien life is extremely likely. So, perhaps the two aren't comparable.

Aug 27, 2013 at 11:25 AM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler


Yes, they do. Trust me on this. Even scientists.

Aug 27, 2013 at 11:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobinson

@knr 1020am

"...the standard they would expect of their own students writing an essay. "

You may be over-optimistic there, I suspect that standard is also very low.

Aug 27, 2013 at 11:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Chappell

Can I say, right now, that she is not a relation of mine?

(Well, not close anyway, although all we Haighs are descended from Vikings who came over from Haugesund, Norway, during the Medieval Warm Period...)

Aug 27, 2013 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

I’m not sure who was worse, the simpering Al-Khalili or the ‘I write to people and tell them where they are wrong’ Jo Haigh. Perhaps they could both read Judith Curry’s latest piece on over-confidence...

Aug 27, 2013 at 11:56 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

The IPCC report is due. Time for the flock to show its allegiance.

Aug 27, 2013 at 12:38 PM | Registered Commentershub

- Maybe the whole prog was designed before hand to push climate alarmism and trash deniers (PR agency at work ?)

I noticed there are a lot of fawning tweets
Tweeted by WAM Weather Art and Music Festival. (Reading 2012· (almosts reads as w.a.r.m.fest))
"Prof Jo Haigh on Life Scientific today with @jimalkhalili will be on Climate Change Question Time panel on 14 Sep 6pm 2013 at
Royal Meteorological Society's Second Amateur Meteorologists' Conference
Date: Friday 13 September 2013 - Sunday 15 September 2013

- wow all on the panel are raving skeptics NOT "Chair Dr Peter Stott, Met Office Hadley Centre. Panel members to include: Prof Jo Haigh, Imperial College and President Royal Meteorological Society, Prof Julia Slingo, Met Office, Dr Ed Hawkins, University of Reading and Dr Richard Allan, University of Reading."

- Haigh clearly stated in the prog "The climate is warming" a few times, without properly mentioning the current 15 year standstill.

Aug 27, 2013 at 12:44 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Having now listened to the programme, I can definitely say "it's worse than we thought". What a dreadful programme. I wouldn't have believed that either of them was a scientist unless I had been told beforehand. As a graduate from Imperial physics department (back in the days before it was commercialised and lost its scientific integrity), I have to say I am completely embarrassed at what Imperial has now become.

Aug 27, 2013 at 12:54 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I haven't had time yet but will do later but I would urge people to Listen to the broadcast, list every factual error or piece of propaganda and make a complaint online to the BBC which includes references to scientific reports or papers which show the falsehoods in the programme. You are likely to get a response a couple of weeks later which ignores, rather than addresses the points you made. Make a further complaint about the response itself and demand that the points you made be answered and corrected or you will escalate the claim. Remind them the BBC has a duty to be objective and accurate and that without correcting any falsehoods broadcast in the programme - that you have pointed out - the BBC will now Knowingly be publishing and promoting inaccuracies and falsehoods. .

I think the only way to begin (if that is at all possible) to get through the BBC warmist mindset is to set out precisely why the interview / report was factually incorrect and amounted to propaganda. Maybe if enough people do that for every global warming programme or item on magazine progs that the BBC use to promote agw/climate change and refuse to be fobbed off with the initial bland response then some of the producers will have to look at the facts to be able to reply. They might just learn something from that - but don't hold your breath, the BBC is institutionally warmist.

Aug 27, 2013 at 12:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger

Towards the end the presenter Al-Khalili did slip in his own reference to climate change being a controversial subject. I would not have caught that impression by just listening to what Dr Haigh had to say. She does seem to have a unshakeable confidence in her own rightness combined with a belief that anyone who disagrees with her agenda needs to mend their ways. A frightening combination. I hope some of her students see through the arrogance.

Aug 27, 2013 at 1:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterColdish

- If I were True Climate Science then I'd have my libel lawyer on the phone right now trying to get an injunction against the 9.30pm repeat & iplayer replays.

Aug 27, 2013 at 1:20 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen


Isn't the real point that none of us "deny" climate change or global warming? As such we can prove this is a lie and so those involved in this program were committing a libel against us.

Surely, there must be some kind of legal redress?

Aug 27, 2013 at 1:24 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

I think you just have to give up on the BBC. They just don't get it. They just don't want to. It's evolution in action. Anyone who said "wait a minute...." was ejected. The only ones left are clueless and arrogant.

Aug 27, 2013 at 1:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterLucyG

Stewgreen. Great minds think alike! A couple of times I've been motivated to contact a solicitor, but quite bizarrely they did not respond to my emails. If however anyone else fancies taking a case then I will donate £100 to the fighting fund and I hope other people will do the same.

Aug 27, 2013 at 1:29 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

Sometimes less a Life Scientific and more a Life Clerical.

Aug 27, 2013 at 1:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterManniac

She says 'the physics is simple on the larger timescales'. Wrong.

Aug 27, 2013 at 1:34 PM | Registered Commentershub

The IPCC 'only reviews work, and does not do any of its own'. Wrong.

Aug 27, 2013 at 1:36 PM | Registered Commentershub

CO2 is a ‘duvet’ apparently. I wonder how warm Ms Haigh would keep under 0.02mm of bedclothes? (My duvet is about 50mm.)

Aug 27, 2013 at 1:44 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Shub... "She says 'the physics is simple on the larger timescales'. Wrong."

Right ... the physics is simple on the larger timescales! It is simple, just as it is on the shorter time-scales of weekly, monthly or yearly weather forecast ... but whilst the physics is simple the modelling is next to impossible to do with any chance of predicting the outcome.

It's called the butterfly effect!! Just because the physics is simple ... it doesn't mean that the prediction of its effect is at all simple.

Aug 27, 2013 at 1:45 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

Shub - she also said that her temperature modelling was accurate. I can only assume she’s been looking so hard at the models that she’s forgotten to check the actual records.

It would have been nice if Uncle Jim had introduced a note of scepticism, but when does that ever happen?

I suppose it's too much to hope that he might interview Piers Corbyn next time..?

Aug 27, 2013 at 1:49 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Well, I've got a complaint in.

Do I really expect anything more than a patronising reply full of platitudes?

Is the Pope a Buddhist?


Aug 27, 2013 at 1:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve C

Yes I was thinking the rename would be The Life Un-Scientific or The Life Dogmatic

- over on Twitter Simon Singh first tweeted he was shocked at the BBC using the word "denier" then said it is OK.
- When I said it would not be appropriate to frame debate by saying "Simon Singh Chiropractor DENIER" particularly to school children ..he seemed to run away.

Aug 27, 2013 at 2:00 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

'the physics is simple on the larger timescales'

Well it is if you model more CO2 = increased radiative forcing equivalent to an increase in insolation, and ignore or mis-represent everything else.....

GCM methodology has been falsified by empirical data, and there are no empirical data at all to support the AGW hypothesis.

Concerning complaining to the BBC - don't even try it. I spent a year complaining about Nurse's outrageous Horizon programme, and got exactly nowhere!

Aug 27, 2013 at 2:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

I fired off an email before the programme ended. After a courteous discussion (confined to the use of the word "denier") Prof Haigh has agreed to avoid the term in future.

Aug 27, 2013 at 2:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterSkeptical Chymist

I wonder whether the use of the term "deniers" has backfired rather. Any movement or party which sounds persistently more obsessed by the moral shortcomings of its opponents rather than the benefits of its own case, sounds desperate.

Further, the alarmists are always blaming "deniers" for the lack of appropriate action, but simultaneously exhorting people to live more virtuous, smaller lives. Most people are aware that they don't actually do very much about this, because it's a pain in the ass, and so can't get very worked up with indignation about the "deniers", who behave very much as they do (foreign holidays and so forth).

I believe that most people who "believe" in global warming without thinking too much about it think that it's a jolly terrible thing and that the Government Must Act - but they only modify their own behaviour in the most trivial ways and only then when there's the threat of fines. So they don't get on their high horse, much, and will tire of those who do.

Aug 27, 2013 at 2:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterSH

SH: Agreed. This is what a US journalist wrote on 3rd December 2009, a couple of weeks after the leak from CRU in East Anglia:

Some are saying the leaked e-mails - Climategate - mark the end of global warming. For me, the debate ended when global warming believers began calling skeptics of global warming "deniers," as if we are a bunch of Nazis denying the Holocaust.

That was Don Surber in the Charleston Daily Mail. Sadly the URL I noted at the time now gives page not found. But I doubt Surber's alone in voting No the moment he heard this desperate ploy.

Aug 27, 2013 at 3:08 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

'the physics is simple on the larger timescales'

I think this is what they call, 'illogical'.


Aug 27, 2013 at 3:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

Skeptical Chymist : "After a courteous discussion ... Prof Haigh has agreed to avoid the term in future."

Thank you for posting that. No one wants to see action against individuals who mistakenly use this libellous term.

But as for the BBC who continue to broadcast this libel. It has gone beyond the stage where a simple apology will suffice.

Aug 27, 2013 at 3:34 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

Dellers: "The audio is here but for God's sake keep a towel handy to wipe off all the drool. Oh, and a sick bag too"

Aug 27, 2013 at 3:37 PM | Unregistered Commenterfilbert cobb

"Prof Haigh has agreed to avoid the term in future"

And perhaps she might ponder what it is we're supposed to be denying. It isn't climate change.

Aug 27, 2013 at 3:41 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

In light of what Skeptical Chymist has acheived, perhaps a note to the BBC duty team asking for the term to be edited from the repeat broadcast?

Aug 27, 2013 at 3:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

The interviewer - Jim Al-Khalili - truly is clueless. And yes, I know he is a physics Professor. When she says (17min 10 secs):

... there's been quite a bit of controversy over the recent months because the increasing trend of the temperature seems to have flattened off a bit, and so that's give sucour to some of the climate change deniers. 'Oh you see, it's all gone away', but I don't think that's the case at all.

Ignoring for a moment that you'd have no idea from what she said how many years this flattening has been going on for, his reply shows he knows nothing of how big an issue the "pause" is. He might not even know that there has been a "pause" at all:

this is research that was published a few months ago that says that if - you know... it's a calculation - that says that if you double the amount of carbon dioxide, how much would the temperature go up. And it was thought it would go up by up to 3 degrees and now they're saying only up to 2 degrees. And suddenly that's not so bad.

She tries to gently bring him back to the point she was trying to make, that a "hiatus" is not unexpected (again, disregarding the issue that none of her fellow scientists had actually expected it), evidently aware that he has no idea what she's referring to, but not wanting to embarrass him by pointing out his ignorance.

Aug 27, 2013 at 3:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterHK

I thought it would be worth restating "the sceptic view" which was a consensus document produced in May 2012 on Scottish Sceptic (see blog for full text)

I have highlighted the relevant bits that totally contradict the claims of "denyism" whether of global warming or climate change.

The Sceptic View

* Carbon Dioxide (CO2) has been increasing. In 1960 it was 0.032% of the atmosphere, today it is 0.039%.
*There has very probably been warming of average global temperatures in the last 150 years.
*There is a greenhouse effect and CO2 is a greenhouse gas. The best scientific estimate of this effect (for doubling CO2) is about 1C warming.
*People think there are mechanisms that could increase warming further than the direct effect of CO2. This is not supported by the evidence.
*Current estimates of about 0.8 C temperature rise in the past 150 years are very likely too high. There is compelling evidence of malpractice, urban heating and poor instruments & siting. A figure of 0.5-0.6C warming appears more likely.
*Man-made sources have increased global levels of CO2, however scientific analysis shows part of the increase is natural and no one is certain how much or little of this rise is man-made.
*Water in the atmosphere is far more important than CO2 in determining global temperature.
*The harmful effects of warming have been exaggerated as shown e.g. by the absence of substantial evidence for increasing weather extremes.
*Known benefits have been hidden. It is estimated there are more than 20,000 extra winter deaths each year in the UK and increasing fuel costs will make this worse. CO2 is essential for plant growth and increasing levels are beneficial to plants.
*Even under the worst case scenario warming, when the usual method of comparing the cost and benefit of policy is used, it is more cost effective to deal with any problems that occur than to pay to try to stop them.
*Climate proxies are not reliable. If we consider all the evidence including historical records, the evidence suggests the world was warmer during the “medieval warm period” as well as being cooler during the “little ice age”.
*Climate varies naturally. Most of the CO2 rise occurred in the latter half of the 20th century. If this change were man-made the global temperature change for the early and latter 20th century should be very different. They are not. This suggests a natural cause for much of the 20th century warming.
*In 2001 the IPCC stated with a high degree of confidence that global temperature would warm. It has not. In science a theory is not valid unless the data supports it. Climate scientists must accept this theory is not validated and acknowledge that the IPCC confidence in warming was greatly overstated.
*We condemn the many instances of malpractice seen in climate science and those who condone them.

Aug 27, 2013 at 3:44 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

- I find it incredible that 20+ years in the climate business she thought it was OK to namecall, and now after a brief discussion she agrees it's wrong. Be surprised if she lasts more that a week.
- Seminal : Warren Pearce essay on Not using Denier label.
- I'd like a transcription for Life Scientific I checked - Looks like BBC don't do them for Life Scientific now
- Be interesting to see for some one so certain if Haigh has made any predictions, apart from being unable to predict the present "the temperature IS rising" etc. - I didn't find any so far.

Aug 27, 2013 at 3:48 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

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