Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Thoughts for the Brain... Geology vs Iain Duncan Smith

Here are a couple of stories to talk about. Firstly Geologists Erupt After Iain Duncan-Smith Shelf-Stacking Jibe. If nothing else the headline is a nice little pun. When Mr Bowel-Syndrome compares geology to shelf-stacking he is of course having a go at Cait Reilly, a geology graduate who quite rightly argued that stacking shelves for free in Poundland was a waste of time when she was already volunteering in a museum and searching for work herself. IBS really is a wretch. He is far too thin skinned to be in politics if he feels the need to denigrate a woman in her twenties looking for work. He most likely kicks puppies, squashes ants and breaks the wings off butterfly to pass the time between insults and hare-brained schemes.

But it is also indicative of a ruling class mindset that knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. Geology doesn’t make immediate profit for people with shares in retail but, as one of the secretaries of the Geology Society of London pointed out:

Geologists are a vital part of the [food] supply chain: mining the minerals essential for fertilisers, obtaining metal ores, discovering the fuel which transports produce to the store…

Furthermore geologists work in tough conditions, from oil rigs to mines, and in all weathers. Manual labour is part of what they do.

Meanwhile the government is proposing 40-year deals for new nuclear reactors to be built. It’s worth pointing out firstly that the estimated price of generation is just below £100 per gigawatt hour, currently double the market price of electricity. The pricing system for wholesale power is byzantine and reflects firstly the practical monopoly that private companies effectively have, there is no meaningful electricity market, but also the essential role it has in the wider economy. Since the formation of the UKAEA in 1954 nuclear power has been tightly bound to the state.

But the other thing to note is if new power stations were built tomorrow on 40 year contracts that would not mean they are done and dusted by 2053. I grew up near a nuclear power station that was closed down well over twenty years ago. It is still being dismantled and the site being decontaminated today and that will still be going on in another twenty years. This government is setting problems that our grandchildren will have to deal with.

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