Misleading statements: Prof. Joanna Haigh attempts to fool Telegraph readers about Boris Johnson’s climate views

Posted: January 23, 2013 by tallbloke in alarmism, atmosphere, Measurement, methodology, Solar physics, solar system dynamics

H/T Paul Matthews for spotting this on the telegraph website. It seems that this is what to expect from mainstream scientists these days. Sad really:

SIR – As a professor of atmospheric physics, at Imperial College London, I’m delighted that Boris Johnson maintains his interest in weather and climate (“It’s snowing, and it really feels like the start of a mini ice age”, Comment, January 21), but he should be wary of drawing generalised conclusions from his observations. 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. What we have is the lovely variability of British weather sitting on top of a long-term global average warming due to greenhouse gas increases. This is not an issue of opinion, but one of basic physics.

We don’t need to invoke mysterious solar particles to understand long-term trends.

Professor Joanna Haigh
London SW7

So let’s have a look at the cherry picked dates Joanna uses:


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.

As for “…warming due to greenhouse gas increases. This is not an issue of opinion, but one of basic physics.”

Joanna commits the same misleading error many cli-sci ‘experts’ before her have made and foisted on the public. That of 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. The upper atmosphere has shrunk since 2003 when the sun went quiet, and the cloud deck is lowering. Evidence that natural variability is stronger than co2 forcing, and probably accounted for most if not all all the warming in the late C20th, as well as the cooling just begun.

  1. Stephen Wilde says:

    Very disappointing from Ms Haigh.

    An earlier paper from her expressed the opinion that the sign of the solar effect on part or parts of the atmosphere might need to be revised and on the strength of that I sent her a copy of my earlier article explaining how and why that could well be so.

    Her reply seemed open minded and broadly supportive so to now hear her go to such lengths to emphasise the GHG theory and downplay solar influence is a great surprise.

  2. Good catch … at silly mid-off!

    No mention either by the “good Professor” that this is the lowest peak solar activity in at least 4 cycles in a pattern reminscent of the decline into the Dalton. (LIA)

  3. If the sun is at full power, then we better wrap up warm when it drops back.

    HADCRUT numbers are out and down 0.25C in December.


  4. oldbrew says:

    More ‘lovely variability’ here…

    @ SW 2:23pm – it shouldn’t be a surprise, the orthodoxy has to be defended by those on its payroll.

  5. philjourdan says:

    I read the Fox piece. Donna should take a bow.

  6. tallbloke says:

    Agreed Phil, Donna is very sharp and stays on the point.

  7. oldbrew says:

    IPCC/WWF/Greenpeace : Fifty shades of grey literature 😉

  8. Alan Vallis says:

    Suspend your cognitive dissonance for a moment folks and have a peep beyond your own back yards. It’s a little warm out here.

    [Reply] Where? Can we come over to your place? 🙂

  9. Scute says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if this letter from Haigh is one of her desktop icons because she’s clicking and sending it out elsewhere, probably all over the net, spreading the truth-but-not-the-whole-truth to infect the minds of ordinary intelligent people who rely on the integrity of such experts.

    Here’s the statement she made to Carbon Brief. Notice there’s a bit extra sandwiched in the middle but it regurgitates the drivel in her Telegraph letter word for word. This was then picked up by the Guardian and regurgitated to a few more millions- including some of my more left-wing intelligentsia friends who lap this stuff up and point-blank refuse to listen to me when I have the temerity to question their new-found knowledge on solar science. (By the way, I hope Haigh reads this comment- it will save me from countless hours of patient debunking, and not a few words of choice invective hurled my way. Her actions have far-reaching consequences.)

    [Carbon Brief excerpt from Haigh]:

    We asked some climate scientists for their thoughts on the piece, and this argument in particular.

    Joanna Haigh, a professor of atmospheric physics at Imperial College, specialises in studying the effect of the sun on climate. She explained to us that most scientists have moved on from looking out of the window to tell them what’s going on with the climate:

    “I’m delighted that the mayor maintains his interest in weather and climate but he should be wary of drawing generalised conclusions from his observations. He suggests that the cold weather in London is due to declining solar activity – but actually the Sun is more active now than it has been since 2009, and about the same as it was in 2004 and 1998.

    “On longer timescales – decades to century – the sun may be very slowly declining in activity but this can’t explain year-to-year variations in UK winter weather. The mayor makes an interesting point about the weather during the Maunder Minimum in sunspots and, although the cooler weather then was largely confined to north-west Europe, that may quite likely have been influenced by the Sun. But at that time solar energetic output was considerably lower than it is today.

    “What we have is the lovely variability and uncertainty of British weather sitting on top of a long term global average warming due to greenhouse gas increases. This is not an issue of opinion but one of basic physics. We just don’t need to invoke mysterious effects of solar particles to understand long-term trends in global temperatures.”


    Haigh is a serial offender. She has been at it before, quite recently, when she weighed into the Alec Rawls AR5 leak along with Stephen Sherwood. They set up straw men so as to whisk Rawls’ cogent arguments on the GCR-cloud link into a vortex of spin. Rawls detailed it here:


    Here is Rawls’ summary in that blog post:

    “Sherwood and Haigh are flat lying to the public about what a simple single sentence says, pretending the admission of strong evidence for some substantial mechanism of enhanced solar forcing was never made, then trusting sympathetic reporters and editors not to call them on it. This is why the report had to be made public. After my submitted comments showed how thoroughly the new sentence undercuts the entire report it was obvious that the consensoids who run the IPCC would take the sentence right back out, and here Sherwood and Haigh are already trying to do exactly that.”



  10. Zeke says:

    “We don’t need to invoke mysterious solar particles to understand long-term trends.”

    The solar particles are not mysterious, they are ions which 1. become trapped in the oppositely rotating Van Allen Belts, 2. flow in and out of the poles of the earth during Flux Transfer Events, and 3. which happen to cause tremendous electrical currents in the crust of the earth during CMEs.

    The measurements and observations of the Van Allen Belts and the way these couple the space weather from the sun with the weather systems of the earth are still being investigated by twin NASA probes, which do not even have names.

    I don’t think it is necessary to “invoke” any “mysterious” particles either. “Investigate” the electrical nature of “flowing charged particles” and their effect on the Van Allen Belts is what is necessary at this point, and the way forward.

  11. oldbrew says:

    @ Zeke: have you seen this from Miles Mathis re the South Atlantic anomaly? Certainly an interesting theory.

    Click to access saa.pdf

  12. oldbrew says:

    ‘We don’t need to invoke mysterious solar particles to understand long-term trends’

    Looks like the Met Office is wasting its money trying to recruit a space weather specialist then.


  13. Paul Matthews says:

    Roger, Thanks for picking up on this. In fact it was commenter snotrocket at BH unthreaded who first spotted the letter. Here’s what I posted at the Telegraph:

    It is worrying to see such a misleading letter from Joanna Haigh, Professor at Imperial College.
    Yes the sun is more active now than in 2009. But what she fails to mention is that solar activity goes in 11 year cycles, and 2009 was the last minimum! So her statement is a bit like saying it is lighter outside now than it was twelve hours ago.We are now more than 11 years after the last maximum (which occurred around 2001) so ought to be near the next maximum, but current sunspot levels are way below the last maximum, see for example the graph at

    It is quite clear that solar activity has decreased in recent years. Whether or not this influences the Earth’s climate is very poorly understood and an important topic for future research.

  14. Heretic says:

    @Professor Joanna Haigh
    Defend yourself! Or are all the skeptics right?

  15. oldbrew says:

    ‘He suggests that the cold weather is due to declining solar activity’
    ‘We don’t need to invoke mysterious solar particles to understand long-term trends’


    Sept. 23, 2008: In a briefing today at NASA headquarters, solar physicists announced that the solar wind is losing power.

    “The average pressure of the solar wind has dropped more than 20% since the mid-1990s,” says Dave McComas of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. “This is the weakest it’s been since we began monitoring solar wind almost 50 years ago.”


  16. Dave N says:

    “Suspend your cognitive dissonance for a moment folks and have a peep beyond your own back yards. It’s a little warm out here”

    Are you perhaps in Australia? I am, where our summer is doing nothing unprecedented, despite the ramblings of the BOM:


    Ok, so Rog is in the UK.. how about he ventures to the US?:


  17. tallbloke says:

    Dave N: It certainly sounds like he’s been imbibing a bit too much Lewandowsky/Cook jargon. Glad you’re having a nice warm summer anyway. 🙂

  18. tallbloke says:

    Let’s help Joanna out with some further info on the ‘Mysterious solar particles’ she’s clearly so ignorant of.
    “Kinetic processes prevail in the solar corona and solar wind. Since the plasma is tenuous, multi-component, non-uniform, and mostly not at LTE (Local Thermodynamic Equilibrium) or collisional equilibrium conditions, multi-fluid theories or kinetic physics are required for an adequate description of many coronal and solar wind phenomena. The coronal plasma is stratified and turbulent, and strongly driven by the underlying photospheric magnetoconvection, which is continuously pushing around the magnetic field lines reaching out into the corona. Thus the field contains ample free energy for driving plasma macro- and micro-instabilities. Consequently, magnetohydrodynamic as well as kinetic plasma waves and associated wave-particle interactions are expected to play a major role.
    Certainly, Coulomb collisions also matter, which are kinetically described by the Fokker–Planck operator (see, e.g., Montgomery and Tidman, 1964). However, excitation, scattering and absorption of waves, either of fluid or kinetic type, will dominate over collision effects. The consequences for the velocity distribution function (VDFs) are often described by a quasilinear diffusion operator involving the wave spectra. The key problem then is to understand the transport properties of the weakly collisional corona (and solar wind), which requires consideration of multiple scales, spatial non-uniformity and most likely also temporal variability.

    The solar wind consists of electrons, protons, alpha particles and heavy ions. Kinetic plasma physics deals with their collective behaviour as a statistical ensemble. Space-borne particle spectrometers enable us to measure the composition and three-dimensional velocity distribution functions (VDFs) of the particles. The Vlasov/Boltzmann kinetic plasma theory provides the adequate means for their theoretical description. Key issues of kinetic physics are to address the coronal origin and acceleration of the wind and the spatial and temporal evolution of the particles’ VDFs. They are shaped through the forces of the Sun’s gravitational field, the average-macroscale and fluctuating-mesoscale electric and magnetic fields of interplanetary space, and through multiple microscale kinetic processes like binary Coulomb collisions and collective wave-particle interactions. Although, coronal expansion is irreversible, the solar wind microstate carries distinct information about the coronal plasma state in the source region, and thus in situ measurements allow for inferences and provide a kind of remote-sensing diagnosis of the coronal plasma.”

    No invocation necessary Joanna, we have science these days.

  19. Roger Andrews says:

  20. tallbloke says:

    it’s all those global warming flakes that have been dropping out of the sky, that’s what has done it.

  21. Roger Andrews says:

    Frosted flakes, presumably 🙂

  22. tallbloke says:

    Scute reports Joanna Haigh saying:

    “The mayor makes an interesting point about the weather during the Maunder Minimum in sunspots and, although the cooler weather then was largely confined to north-west Europe, that may quite likely have been influenced by the Sun. But at that time solar energetic output was considerably lower than it is today.

    Well, that’s quite an admission, I bet that’ll earn her a rebuke from the galactic gatekeeper when he hears about it.

  23. greg says:

    Yes, pretty disgraceful and deliberately misleading.

    What was Hickman saying about taking climate science seriously?

    If we don’t take their “science” seriously we won’t need a referendum to know whos fault it will be.

  24. AstroFizz says:

    I suppose solar particles may seem mysterious …. to a climate scientist like Haigh.

    For the rest of us who did first year physics they are fairly mundane objects.

  25. Ulric Lyons says:

    “..but the sun is more active now than it has been since 2009…”

    Tosh, it’s tanked again, that’s why it’s cold…

  26. Craig M says:

    TB Piers references this post and will appear on BBC Sunday. Presume he will be edited and made to look a loon. Hope he did a JoNova and recorded it just in case.


    “Piers was filmed by BBC for Politics London Show discussion Sunday 27 Jan BBC1 11am A representative of Boris Johnson will be interviewed…”Prof Joanna Haigh…in The Telegraph…misleadingly implies Boris Johnson believes in a direct correspondence between solar activity amounts and London weather and then says he should be wary of drawing such conclusions – which he has never drawn. [There is of course a complex yet predictable relationship between modulated solar activity and weather patterns]. She knows and Telegraph readers (whom she takes for stupid) know that Boris made it clear he cannot comment on science details but has seen WeatherAction forecasts, which he receives on a regular basis, succeed again and again and again and is simply saying WeatherAction should be listened to, especially because of the economic implications of any coming mini ice age. WeatherAction being listened to is the Co2 warmistas great fear because it would bring in a new age of enlightenment of evidence-based science and poltics and would end the corruption of science expressed by the stranglehold of CO2 warmistas on UK schools and academia from year one in Primary schools to the Royal Society (a door upon which Prof Haigh is knocking).She claims Greenhouse gases are driving world warming and “We dont need to invoke mysterious solar particles to understand long term trends”. As any student in IC Physics1 (and I along with Brian May was such in 1965) will point out her CO2 claims are negated by observational fact and it is only solar activity including magnetic sun-earth connection that can explain the ~22yr – the strongest of all – variation in world temperatures and other climate parameters. Further the longer term observed correlation between smoothed solar activity and world temperatures is well known and has never been refuted. [does our galactic gatekeeper agree?] I challenge Joanna Haigh to: 1. Produce observational evidence with real observed data (or accepted proxies thereof) from the last hundreds, thousands or million years that CO2 changes in the real atmosphere drive world temperature changes.2. Produce observational evidence and physics-based argument that refute our knowledge that the ~22yr cycle of variation in World temperatures is driven by the ~22yr magnetic (‘Hale’) cycle of the Sun


  27. AlecM says:

    Through the courtesy of egriff5514, I have been able to peruse the 1997 Volvo prize winner essay by Ramanathan; http://www-ramanathan.ucsd.edu/files/pr72.pdf

    The clear-sky atmospheric greenhouse factor, the energy supposedly creating the GHE, is defined as G=S-OLR where S is the S-B emission from the Earth’s surface, 396 W/m^2 for 16 °C and OLR is the outgoing long wave radiation at top of atmosphere= 238.5 W/m^2.

    So, G=157.5 W/m^2. Stand back and think what this means. The input SW energy from the Sun net of albedo is 239.4 W/m^2. Of this, 161 W/m^2 reaches the surface and of this, 0.9 W/m^2 is supposed to be absorbed permanently [the scam in AR5]
    with 160 W/m^2 leaving as convection, radiation and evapo-transpiration.

    Ramanathan believes that about the same energy as that which reaches the surface from the Sun is magically created within the atmosphere by arbitrarily assigning to a temperature signal the properties of a real energy flux.

    This is a failure to understand the most basic principles of physics. The proof is very simple. By claiming in AR4 that 1.6 W/m^2 AGW is critical, an energy accumulation 100 times greater means we should be all dead. The real energy absorbed is 23 W/m^2. They might argue that it all stored as latent heat but that would appear as an increase in OLR. What’s worse is that in the modelling they add another 238.5 W/m^2 DOWN from TOA to match the two-stream approximation. Do the sums and this means the energy accumulation is exaggerated 12.74 rimes.

    What we are viewing is a complete and utter perversion of the principles of science; its conversion to a religion which at its heart is a wilful aim to breach the principle of conservation of energy, the 1st Law of thermodynamics, and to breach the 2nd law, which is the use of the heat energy in the lower atmosphere to cause itself to expand. These are absolute criticisms. There is no way out for these charlatans.

  28. […] Misleading statements: Prof. Joanna Haigh attempts to fool Telegraph readers about Boris Johnson’s… […]

  29. oldfossil says:

    As a lukewarmist I still have an open mind about greenhouse gases and long term climate trends. Right now we should be warming, except that for reasons nobody understands the atmosphere has become drier, not moister as all the climate models predicted. Vide NVAP, the NASA Water Vapor Project. (No relation to the National Veterinary Accreditation Program, Nemea Valley Archeological Project or National Video Archive of Performance.)

    If water vapor levels are cyclical and start rising again, global temperatures will also rise in a hurry and we doubters will look rather silly. Nuclear physicist Clive Best talks about a 60-year climate cycle on his blog and water vapor could very well be the underlying mechanism.

    More cloud by day and less cloud by night may also have offset the warming.

    The greenhouse effect is not just a laboratory trick that works fine in a bell-jar but flops in the real atmosphere. American, European and Japanese satellites have all measured Earth’s outgoing radiation and the results are exactly in line with the predictions of the greenhouse theory.

    Precisely because Al Gore is wrong and the science is not settled, only time will tell if the alarmists or the skeptics are right.

    In the meantime, everyone who doesn’t understand how greenhouse gases work should spend some time at scienceofdoom.com. Despite the “alarming” name this page takes no sides in the climate debate. It’s all about the physics of climate science, and it gets pretty technical, so go prepared.

    If you want to beat the alarmists you’re going to have to be at least as well informed as them.

  30. tallbloke says:

    Hi Oldfossil and welcome. Clive is a regular contributor here, SoD not so much. We find him to be abrasive, rude, and dogmatic. 🙂
    We are at the peak of the sixty year cycle around now, so I doubt we’ll see much in the way of extra warmth and water vapour over the next thirty years from the AMO or PDO, just the reverse in fact.

    The error on OLR measurement is around +/-4W/m^2 which makes it around 5 times the supposed signal from increased co2. The running mean has been rising, not falling, while stratospheric temp has been steady since 1995 according to the MET office and NOAA processing of the radiosonde data (though there’s a nearly 2C disagreement between them). So I’ll have to disagree with your assertion that “the results are exactly in line with the predictions of the greenhouse theory”.

    You said: ” for reasons nobody understands the atmosphere has become drier, not moister as all the climate models predicted. ”

    Can I suggest you take a careful look at this plot I made a couple of years ago which compares specific humidity near the tropopause at the 300mb level with sunspot numbers averaged over 100 months:

    Thoughts on this are welcome.

  31. tallbloke says:

    I see Piers Corbyn has given us a mention here, and that he is on BBC1 at 12.05 on the London Politics show to discuss Boris and Joanna’s views. Word is he might mention us there too.

  32. oldbrew says:

    It’s on the BBC I-Player here – starts at 51m.30s. (time can be selected on the bar), runs about 9 minutes. Piers Corbyn is featured in his office at the start, only a short piece, then the rest is a studio discussion including Boris Johnson’s spokesperson ducking and weaving round the issues.


  33. oldbrew says:

    This Tallbloke blog post is mentioned here.


    Unfortunately she misquotes Abdussamatov as saying another Little Ice Age is due to start in 2013/14, when his own paper quotes 2055 +/- 11 years. He only expects cooling to start by 2014.

    Click to access abduss_APR.pdf

  34. tallbloke says:

    Haigh getting facts wrong Oldbrew? Shirley Knot….

  35. wayne says:

    “HADCRUT numbers are out and down 0.25C in December.”

    Too bad the permanent GHCN temperature records have been permanently “adjusted” upward ~0.7 °C over the last three decades and will never return… permanently raised to “prove” AGW warming is here. About +0.4 °C was real, I admit and glad it occurred, as we recovered from the “oh, no, we are entering a new mini-ice-age” scare of the 70’s but that is about all I will ever see as being real. Like Anthony said long ago, ‘It’s the Sun, Stupid!’ though WUWT is now taking on an AGW tinge in it’s never ending advertising of the AGW propaganda.

    oldbrew, watch what the temperature graphs do if we are in store for a big drop back to a 70’s environment. My guess is they will not resemble what everyone old enough to remember the 70’s was like. It will still look on the graphs as being warmer (even though it isn’t). Big brother science says so! 😉

  36. JackM says:

    Here is an email I recently sent to the good professor Haigh. Just one correction…Jeffery’s Ledge is actually just outside Ipswich bay, more specifically in the Gulf of Maine…mia culpa…

    So far, her silence has been deafening!

    Dear Professor Haigh:

    I heard your interview on BBC overnight Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 C.E. (A.D.) on PBS here in the colonies. I usually find the BBC to be a great sleep inducer, but your interview did pique my interest…

    Despite my upbringing here in the “colonies”, I consider myself to be a reasonably intelligent, educated, and rational person. I have a B.S. degree in Industrial Engineering (admittedly from a university in the colonies).

    Please explain to me why is was that from ca. 110,000 years ago to ca. 10,000 years ago a vast glacier covered most of North America as far south as Long Island, NY (which island, as well as Cape Cod and a lot of Plum Island in Massachusetts) were terminal moraines of said glacier. In fact, where I presently reside (New England) is riddled with other glacial remnants e.g. massive glacial “erratics” all over the land and many miles out in the ocean, “kettle holes” and drumlins. For reasons unknown to science, at least when I studied geology, the planet “caught a fever” ca. 12,000 years ago, and most of that glacier had receded way back into Canada (where it can stay, as far as I’m concerned) by about 10,000 years ago. That is “settled science”, is it not? Now, was this last interglacial period started because of all of those cavemen back then were burning lots of coal and petroleum, driving big SUVs, and jetting all over the planet on Boeing 747s?
    Or perhaps it was due to all of my bog trotting Celtic ancestors burning too much “turf”?

    The top of Jeffreys Ledge in Ipswich Bay [Gulf of Maine] is ca. 20 miles out to sea and ca. 200 feet deep today. That was the sea level sometime during the last “ice age”, so I do believe, indeed, that the planet is warming and the oceans are rising, but I have yet to see any compelling evidence to concede that anything other than perhaps an infinitesimal amount of that rise is man made.

    I have never once received any sort of rational answer from any anthropogenic global warming “disciple” to whom I have posed that question…usually their only response is derision about me being not only a climate change “denier”, but probably a Holocaust denier too…

    And, no, I am not a Holocaust denier…my dad was at Dachau in 1945, shortly after it was liberated…in fact my dear old dad was stationed in the Mother Country until D-day…

    Thank you for your time (and patience)…

    Jack M (full name and address redacted)