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« Climate sensitivity takes another tumble | Main | Lord Deben and the bureaucratic mindset »

Hague's chosen fruitloop

While he was in post as Special Adviser on Climate Change at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, John Ashton kept a relatively low profile. For someone of such (how to put this politely?) eccentric views, this was probably a wise move, and helpful to his boss, William Hague.

However, Ashton has now moved on, and is positively flaunting his intellectual weirdness. Just take a look at the diatribe he launched at the head of Shell recently:

There is a touch of narcissism in the story of your face.

The paranoiac fears conspiracies that do not exist. You fear a non-existent conspiracy to bring about your sudden death.

There is a touch of paranoia in the story of your face.

The psychopath displays inflated self-appraisal, lack of empathy, and a tendency to squash those who block the way.


The high carbon, resource-profligate modernity you helped build is a new Babylon. Every bite from its fruit poisons the tree from which we pluck it.

King Belshazzar of Babylon plundered goblets of gold from the Temple of Solomon. We take our plunder from an ecological fabric we no longer recognize as our first Temple. But if it crumbles we die both in body and in spirit.

I could go on; there's much more in the same vein. It's actually rather scary.

How on earth did the Conservative party end up thinking that this man should be a top adviser to the government?

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Reader Comments (57)

"How on earth did the Conservative party end up thinking that this man should be a top adviser to the government?"

David King, Lord Deben, John Beddington, etc, etc. - where does one start?

Mar 19, 2015 at 2:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

All the world is queer save thee and me, and even thou art a little queer.

Mar 19, 2015 at 2:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterGubulgaria

Belief in CAGW seems to send 97% around the bend!

Mar 19, 2015 at 2:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Johnson

Without wishing to descend into an ad hominem attack, I think this gentleman is suffering from a psychiatric disorder. The repeated references to a psycopathy in the position taken by the Chairman of Shell reveal more of Mr Ashton's own inner demons than anything else and I would be very worried at his (Mr Ashton's) state of mind. His repetition of the alarminst position is one thing and were it left to that one could treat this as another political statement, but his repeated reference to semi-mythical characters from classical history suggests that his grip on reality is not where it should be. It makes me sad - not angry - to see such a diatribe.

Mar 19, 2015 at 2:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob

Surely there has been a mix-up here, and this letter was written by the nutter who went off to live in a yurt in Inverness-shire?

Mar 19, 2015 at 2:31 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

The man himself clearly urgently needs (a) some basic education and (b) some psychiatric help . All of his strange ramblings spring from his apparent (and only-just-quasi-religious) and frankly absurd belief that "climate change is a NEW (my emphasis) challenge," and from his obvious ignorance of (or wilful ignoring of ?) the degree to which honest scientists are still struggling to begin properly to understand (virtually without any research funding help from Governments) the major non-human influences on global climate. His mention of the 100% political 2 degrees concept emphasises that he belongs with the courtiers who tried to persuade King Canute that he could hold back the tide. The arrogance of such petty little people who think we can control nature is astounding. Many environmentally concerned and educated people wish that energy company CEOs would ALL stop keeping their true convictions to themselves (and sometimes trying to undermine "rival" fuels for short-term advantage by paying lip-service to extreme climate alarmism) and speak out more loudly of the benefits of continuing and growing and increasingly clean fossil fuel usage for all the world's underprivileged and hungry people.

Mar 19, 2015 at 2:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterGillespie Robertson

Ashton is a Member of the Green College Centre for Environmental Policy and Understanding. He also serves on the Advisory Boards of the Climate Institute, Washington DC, and of the UK Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.

WIKI Here.

China 'expert' and to boot he speaks in rhymes of historical mythology, of a provenance we know not or, whereof.

Hmm Tydall centre, and Mike Hulme territory - arch global warmist spinner and - this dopey bird:

"I am worried that the risks of dangerous climate change are too high on our current emissions trajectory," Prof Le Quere said.

"We need a radical plan."

al beeb

Though, Paul nailed her ruminations to the floor.

Ashton is just another nutter, arch propagandist for the cult of man made warming, he fits right in with the crony corporates working the glove puppets - the Camerloons led by the green tosser himself, call me Dave.

Mar 19, 2015 at 2:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

I managed to get about a fifth of the way through John Ashton's letter and wondered what had caused the 'outburst', so I had a look at the CEO's speech: a bit of a Curate's egg but, being positive, there are some nuggets to behold:

Ben van Beurden, Royal Dutch Shell's CEO:
"For a sustainable energy future, we need a more balanced debate. Fossil fuels out, renewables in — too often, that’s what it boils down to. Yet in my view, that’s simply naïve.

Yes, climate change is real. And yes, renewables are an indispensable part of the future energy mix. But no, provoking a sudden death of fossil fuels isn’t a plausible plan.

Today, 3 billion people still lack access to the modern energy many of us take for granted. This isn’t just about having a dustbuster or a television set. Energy access often makes the difference between poverty and prosperity.

At the same time, demand is growing. There will be more people on this planet, more people living in cities and more people rising from poverty. They will all need energy if they are to thrive.
The issue is how to balance one moral obligation, energy access for all, against the other: fighting climate change. We still need fossil fuels for a lower-carbon, higher-energy future.
In the meantime, however, the world’s energy needs will underpin the use of fossil fuels for decades to come. So, rather than ruling them out, the focus should remain on lowering their carbon emissions. Three things are crucial to achieving that goal.

Firstly, a shift from coal to natural gas [ :) ]. When burnt for power, gas produces half the CO2 coal does.

Secondly, carbon capture and storage. CCS fitted to power plants can be a real game-changer, like for example our project under design at Peterhead in Scotland. CCS can remove up to 90% of CO2 emissions from power generation.

Thirdly, and most importantly, a well-executed carbon pricing system. This would help promote natural gas as well as CCS, and a whole range of other low-carbon technologies.
The good news is that renewables, with strong support from the German government, are growing. The bad news is that coal plants are used as a flexible back-up.

That’s caused CO2 emissions in Germany to actually increase in 2012 and 2013, according to the European statistics agency Eurostat. This is bizarre and demonstrates the issues we face.
You cannot talk credibly about lowering emissions globally if, for example, you are slow to acknowledge climate change; if you undermine calls for an effective carbon price; and if you always descend into the “jobs versus environment” argument in the public debate."
Shell CEO Speech

Mar 19, 2015 at 2:43 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

So this Tory Government recruited a nutter for an adviser.

Makes a change from a corrupt tax-dodging banker or dishonest phone hacker.

Why is anyone surprised at the poor judgement of Cameron?

Mar 19, 2015 at 2:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterMCourtney

I read (most of) Ashton's diatribe, and I went to the home page. (who the hell are they?) I felt like a victorian standing at the window of bedlam hospital watching the loonies! They are clearly deranged. I felt slightly soiled for looking at them in their misery!

Mar 19, 2015 at 2:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimonJ

Hague was briefly employed by Shell before he returned to his teenage calling of politics. Perhaps he had a bad experience?

Mar 19, 2015 at 3:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Climate change is very, very dangerous. Just thinking about it for too long can drive a man insane which is what seems to have happened to John Ashton.

Are climatologists any nearer to discovering a cure?

Mar 19, 2015 at 3:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

All you need to know about RTCC is one of the reporters is Trougher Tim Yeo's daughter Sophie Yeo.

Mar 19, 2015 at 3:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

SimonJ, they are all here - you just need to add appropriate names:

Mar 19, 2015 at 3:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterOld Goat

John B

Sophie Yeo - is NOT Tim Yeo's daughter....

Mar 19, 2015 at 3:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

In Ashton's polemical diatribe - which seems more like one incredibly long, over-worked classical metaphor - he claims to be a 'lapsed physicist' who, in his diplomatic career argued for, and negotiated a means of financing CCS across Europe. He seems most put out that it didn't happen, and not a bit embarrassed by the fact that it was going to be horrendously expensive. At least he seems to be aware that carbon pricing is a non-runner:

You call for “a well-executed carbon pricing system”. Leaving aside the poor execution of the European Emissions Trading Scheme, a carbon price can only ever drive change at the margin.

Later, he goes on about having lived in a world of 'linear politics' (wtf?) but that now we live in a world of 'non-linear politics':

I have lived in a period when politics has been linear, and therefore predictable. You are skilled at navigating linear politics. Corporations became ever more skilled at rigging the choices made by linear politics for their profit against the public interest. That is one reason why linear politics ending.

We are now entering a period of politics that is non-linear, politics whose outcomes will, from the old frame of reference, your frame of reference, be harder to predict. You are not skilled in navigating non-linear politics.

If memory serves, and assuming I have understood his meaning of 'linear politics', I would say that two major World wars, numberless other conflicts and murderous pogroms of tyrannical dictators have shown the the 20th and now 21st century politics was anything but 'linear'. But then he explains his idea of what makes for 'non-linear politics':
Non-linear politics will welcome new voices. Cities. Communities. Young people. Women. Consumers. Policy takers will become policy shapers.

Their voices will act like a ratchet, driving up ambition on climate.

In other words, he wants to find a way to upset the status quo because he can't find a way to get his own belief systems accepted.

I thoroughly recommend this be read by the sceptic community. This is not the ramblings of a Natalie Bennett. This is an intelligent man who has the ear of powerful people. He just doesn't realise that, although he's talking a load of scientific claptrap, he has lost the plot. My fear is that the Shell CEO might be swayed by such words.

Mar 19, 2015 at 4:32 PM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

I don't want to hog this post but anyone tempted to dismiss this article really needs to dip into it, if only to get to the bit (near the end) where Ashton talks about 'New Pathways'. He says to Van Beurden:

Germany has embarked on an irreversible restructuring of an electricity system that will be powered largely by renewables.

You have misread this. You point to generous subsidies for renewables in Germany. But these are the legitimate product of political consent. You point to baseload coal. But, strangely for an engineer, you fail to note that this is transient noise in a structural transition whose signal is the rise of renewables.

'Legitimate product of political consent'??? Not in the democracy that I thought I was part of.

Mar 19, 2015 at 4:40 PM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

Robert Christopher: one would have thought that someone of Ben van Beurden’s stature would have been able to see, or at the very least would have had the advisers to point out, that, while CO2 is continuing in its rise, temperatures have flat-lined for nearly two decades – in other words, there is no connection between CO2 levels and global temperatures! Indeed, in the 70 years that humans have purportedly been increasing CO2 levels in the atmosphere, there has been a claimed observable rise for about 23 years (1975 – 1998); the greater part of the time, temperatures were actually declining! How can there be any scientifically-justifiable claim that CO2 causes temperatures to rise?

Perhaps we should be grateful that “Cast-iron Dave” and his chums have let this loon out of his box – even the dimmest of the electorate should be able to see that he is spouting the most utter balderdash, and that his handlers seem to believe him should cast doubt on their word in all things.

Mar 19, 2015 at 4:45 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Me too, I have the impression the guy is trying to be Shakespeare, but ends up sounding more like Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings.

Mar 19, 2015 at 4:47 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

When you want to demonstrate the meaning of idiocy, don't be vague: Ask for Ashton.

Mar 19, 2015 at 4:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

The oil and gas companies, and some countries (inc. Norway) are using the CO2 scare to sell gas as the solution to the crisis. By pushing CCS they will also be able to sell even more for the same energy delivered to the customers due to the significant amount of energy required to separate the CO2 from the other exhaust gases and then compress it and pump it underground. The heavy engineering companies will sell more manhours and equipment supplying the CCS systems. It's a bonanza for all except the consumers who just end up with the bill.

Mar 19, 2015 at 5:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterTimC

at 4:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

"Don't be vague…."

Like it!

Mar 19, 2015 at 5:18 PM | Unregistered Commentermiket

Ashton is unique only in the words that he uses; a new flare to scare. The message is typical.

Mar 19, 2015 at 5:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Swarthout

It will be interesting to see what happens if/when van Beurden, Shell and their briefs get sight of this rant. I would be quite happy to bet the price of a reasonable bottle of wine that either Ashton and/or RTCC end up in a libel action over this.

Mar 19, 2015 at 5:34 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Ashton's words do read as though they have been badly translated, from a previously unknown source, using a Roget's Thesaurus. Not unlike some students, and others with pretentious delusions, attempting to impress.

Mar 19, 2015 at 5:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

...How on earth did the Conservative party end up thinking that this man should be a top adviser to the government?...

To be a 'top adviser' to ANY politician, of whatever flavour, demands that you be fairly loopy...

Mar 19, 2015 at 6:01 PM | Unregistered Commenterdodgy geezer

Salopian, I expect the resultant legal fees and costs would buy a modest vineyard. No benefit to tax payers though.

Mar 19, 2015 at 6:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

Since my comment on the OP will probably be moderated out, I thought I might reproduce it here:

...Mr Ashton's piece is wandering and fueled by fundamentalist paranoia. Like most climate fanatics he has lost touch with the real world, and raves in an imaginary world rather similar to that of Revelations.

This sort of response from 'true believers' is not unusual - it's exactly what happens when the promised apocalypse fails to materialise. As more CO2 fails to deliver the predicted warming, expect more and more climate activists to deliver similar outbursts totally unconnected with reality. I suspect that many of them will eventually need psychiatric treatment ......

Mar 19, 2015 at 6:14 PM | Unregistered Commenterdodgy geezer

The greenest government evaaah!

Mar 19, 2015 at 6:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpillinger

It's not there, DG. Tallbloke's is though.

Mar 19, 2015 at 6:39 PM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

Wear a mask for change while setting your face against it. It’s a clever ploy and if the stresses aren’t too great – if politics is linear – it can even work.
Discuss. Extra marks for linear dispositioning and angular interpretation of face-setting.

Mar 19, 2015 at 6:45 PM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

What did I just see? !

It's like a prolonged Greg Craven meltdown, except in poetry form. like a mixture of Spinoza+Craven+Nietzsche+Franny Armstrong.

Mar 19, 2015 at 6:48 PM | Registered Commentershub

There appears a certain oddness, for it goes far beyond irony, residing in his prolonged reference to Babylon. I think psychologists refer to the state as 'projection'. There may be some additional 'sublimation'. The strange tongue in which he speaks implying a desire to control the weather is pure and unadulterated Babylonian. I recommend a consultation with Pascal Bruchner.

Mar 19, 2015 at 7:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterManfred

'Put your brain care specialist on danger money baby' - Zaphod Beeblebrox

Mar 19, 2015 at 7:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterEternalOptimist

His mind can't get itself off what's eatin' at his guts.

Mar 19, 2015 at 8:10 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

I've got about forty more but you only get a spoonful of cream from the bowl of cereal.

Mar 19, 2015 at 8:12 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim


As Mike Hulme once said 'There ain't no Sanity Claus' here at UEA.

His strategies

1. Lamenting Eden - To give the idea that the world was stable until man turned up. And we broke it.

2. Presaging apocalypses - Where you should use phrases like "impending disaster" and "tipping point". This is despite having the knowledge of such predictions (as Hulme states) but should because it "capitalizes on the human inbuilt fear of the future."

3. Reconstructing babel - Appealing to our fear of advancement and technology. As though anything modern is inherently bad.

4. Celebrating Jubilee - Balancing the cosmic unfairness of the world where well off inherently make this worse for the poor and the balance should be readdressed every 25 years.

Mar 19, 2015 at 9:02 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Heh, a physicist sent to lie for his country. Whoa, did that one piss off Ol' Enery the Eighth.

Mar 19, 2015 at 9:12 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Golf Charlie, 6:11pm:"Salopian, I expect the resultant legal fees and costs would buy a modest vineyard. No benefit to tax payers though."

So what, it would be Ashton and RTCC that would be screwed: OK, no direct benefit to the tax payers, but no loss to tax payers either, and potentially a big loss to Ashton and RTCC - seems like a win win scenario to me

Mar 19, 2015 at 9:27 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

I read the full thing with mounting incredulity. I decided to post a comment and so I posted what came into my mind after reading all that. My comment was 'John Ashton is obviously insane.' They didn't allow it. I am not surprised because looking further at that website it seems obvious to me that everyone involved is completely insane.

Mar 19, 2015 at 10:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterANH

As a mere Colonial, I can only stand, mouth agape, at this spectacle of a mental shipwreck in the process of piling onto imagined reefs in a storm only he can see.
The truly frightening aspect of this is that supposedly sentient politicians actually DO take this poor suffering wretch seriously and seek his advice. I can only hope nobody lets him have access to a set of car keys.

Mar 19, 2015 at 10:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

I have now read tried to read the whole thing. It is a text-piece of delusional projection, amongst many, many other psychological disorders; he is an out-and-out fruit-loop. What is so alarming is the pitifully few comments that question Ashton, as well as the number of supporting comments – as ANH says, it seems that everyone involved is completely insane. One can only hope that others will see the reply, come to similar conclusions, and realise that they have been so thoroughly duped.

And, my! ’E don’ ’alf go on a bit, don’t ’e?

Mar 19, 2015 at 11:34 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Christians generally conform to a common language because of a common understanding of God. However John Ashton's language does not conform to that of a typical Christian. I think he's attempting to both influence Christians as a body of people, and more importantly, use God and the Bible as an appeal to authority.

I won't comment on his state of mind, though it's clearly not thinking straight.

Mar 20, 2015 at 12:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterGreg Cavanagh

The lunacy you Europeans (other than France) are experiencing makes US energy policy seem much less extreme.

In the USA we still make a fuss whyen the price of electricity rises from $0.09 to $0.10 per kVAh: we realize how this hurts the the weakest members of our society. There are TV commercials here in opposition to raising electricity prices and we know that "Green Energy" is to blame:

Thank y'all for showing how crazy energy policies affect the price of electricity. We can learn from you and kill green energy before it does real harm to our economy.

Mar 20, 2015 at 5:41 AM | Unregistered Commentergallopingcamel

Talk about biting the hand that feeds. Shell is one of his company's funders.

Here's their mission statement,
"E3G is an independent, non-profit organisation operating in the public interest to accelerate the global transition to sustainable development."

Very very scary.

Mar 20, 2015 at 7:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterAndre

John Ashton is even weirder than this. When he talks about climate change to trade unionists in Newcastle he mentions his grandfather who was a miner. When he talks about climate change to Chinese leaders he mentions his grandfather who fought alongside the communists in Shanghai in the thirties – and he does it in Chinese.

The RTCC is an impressive climate catastrophe blog financed by Middle Eastern airlines and hotel chains. There's an awful lot of money to be made jetting climate experts to conferences in places with nice hotels and decent air conditioning.

Mar 20, 2015 at 7:50 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Radical Rodent on Mar 19, 2015 at 4:45 PM
"One would have thought that someone of Ben van Beurden’s stature would have been able to see ... in other words, there is no connection between CO2 levels and global temperatures!"

I thought he was covering all bases because, if he told the truth, Shell would lose influence at Westminster and he wouldn't be top dog at Shell: it's diplomacy. They have to do it wherever they are in the world. It looks bad because OUR culture is so weird, and we are the mavericks (maverick-an unorthodox or independent-minded person)!

For example:
"Yes, climate change is real. And yes, renewables are an indispensable part of the future energy mix. But no, provoking a sudden death of fossil fuels isn’t a plausible plan."

The climate is changing, I wouldn't rule out having one windmill in the UK (on Skye?), and I would agree that "a sudden death of fossil fuels isn’t a plausible plan".

Why don't more people wonder about the meme 'the climate is changing because of Climate Change'?

Because they are not mavericks.

Mar 20, 2015 at 10:11 AM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

When putting up shelves needs to ditch the SDS for a cheap impact device ...
Drill baby drill. 47,600 blows per minute.

Mar 20, 2015 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Definitely a few kangaroos loose in the top paddock.

Mar 20, 2015 at 1:09 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

And lest we forget, folks ... Ashton definitely has "form" on the flowery flummoxes front.

As I had noted almost two years ago, during the course of a 4,986 word peroration, he had declared (inter alia) that the U.K. Met Office:

is a jewel in the crown, of British science and global science. As a nation we should be more aware of that, and proud of it, than we are. […] Your excellence is an asset for British diplomacy, enhancing our soft power leverage on climate change all over the world.

Ashton had also declared that:

[…] here is a challenge that is Promethean. We have stolen the secret of fire for our own use, unleashing punitive forces inherent in the system of which we are ourselves part. Dealing with this is imperative, because if we don’t the consequences could soon become unmanageable, perhaps even jeopardizing the system conditions within which civilization itself can flourish.

And as we look more deeply into the picture, it urges us to summon a response that is transformational, because the entire modern economy is organized around the energy system. Making that system carbon neutral will reconfigure the economy, and the power relations embedded within it. Furthermore we must accomplish this urgently, in little more than a generation, while building resilience to the climate insecurity we can no longer avoid.

Promethean, imperative, transformational, urgent. [emphasis added -hro]

Interestingly, in the "mix of foundations, government bodies and NGOs." from which Ashton's E3G receives funding one finds ... Greenpeace and (wait for it!) the recently declared "narcissistic, paranoid, and psychopathic" ... Shell Foundation.

So, in his latest flight of Gaia knows what, Ashton would appear to be biting the very hand that feeds him!

Amazing, eh?!

Mar 20, 2015 at 3:07 PM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

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