Geosciences' green strategy
May 5, 2014
Bishop Hill in Energy: gas, Energy: oil, Greens

Two tweets by Professor Iain Stewart (of Climate Wars fame) caught my attention over the weekend.

The first concerned the Geological Association conference I mentioned in the previous post:

What are the strategies for getting the UK public to engage with shale gas?

The second concerned an article in the Canadian press:

Is UK oil and gas industry failing to attract young people in same way as Canada seems to be?

Prof Stewart is a bright guy and I'm sure he has begun to realise that the climate change narrative that he so ably promoted in Climate Wars creates an interesting tension for geologists. On the one hand, oil and gas are pollutants that are going to fry the planet and lead to disaster. On the other they are the raison d'etre of many university earth sciences departments; shale gas could in theory create a whole new demand for their services too.

So it can hardly be a surprise to Prof Stewart if prospective students are put off earth sciences by their association with such awful substances as methane and crude oil, just as chemistry departments have withered away because of the barrage of negative PR from environmentalists.

But never mind, John Ludden, the head of the British Geological Survey has an idea:

some universities are starting use a green strategy for recruiting into earth and environment programmes.

You have to wonder if a "green strategy" for student recruitment is sustainable (to coin a term). Are students really going to fork out tuition fees for the prospect of a badly paid job in the eco-consultancy market? Does the economy need any more eco-consultants anyway? (And given the pressing question of whether the economy needs any eco-consultants at all, this may well be a "no"). It's certainly hard to imagine their generating any wealth, let alone how the economy of Aberdeen will fare once all they have replaced all those geologists and oilmen who currently pump money out of the ground.

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