Archive | Environment

Resolved, that federal funds be allocated for the creation of more offshore wind farms.

One of the fastest-growing sources of clean energy around the world, wind power is popular because of its abundance and its ability to provide communities with clean, local energy rather than imported fossil fuels. The United States recently passed Germany to become the country producing the most wind power, and the Department of Energy has estimated that wind power could account for 20% of the nation’s electricity supply by 2030.  Many attribute the success of wind power domestically to the offshore wind farms, which have provided coastal communities with clean energy and have been highly lauded for reducing water pollution.  However, the recession and economic stagnation have the potential to hinder the growth of the wind power in the United States.  Supporters of offshore wind farms acknowledge that the recent stimulus package included incentives for the creation of more wind farms, but they argue that more needs to be done.  Compared to other alternative sources of energy, like hydrogen or biofuel, wind power has the least negative impact. In spite of all that, detractors contend that offshore wind farms are noisy, loud, widespread, and expensive. Others note that though less expensive in comparison to other sources of energy, wind power is still expensive.  It costs municipalities and the government considerably to build wind farms that often malfunction or perform below capacity levels.  Some environmental activists even argue that wind farms disrupt the migratory patterns of birds and are prone to decapitate or mutilate birds that are unable to avoid the spinning turbines.  Should more federal funds be allocated to offshore wind farms?

KS/APR/11

Posted in Domestic Affairs, Environment1 Comment

Resolved, that the U.S. Federal Government increase funding for small businesses engaged in green technology research.

Green technology includes such fields as renewable energy, waste management, and environmental rehabilitation, all of which could improve the biosphere. The federal government gives grants to scientists engaged in green technology research; supporters of green technology say that subsidizing small businesses that promote environmental progress would be a sensible continuation. Such spending would revive the American economy, they say, by creating green jobs and providing a lasting stimulus.  And, more importantly, their discoveries would benefit everyone. However, such a move could distort market forces, charge fiscal conservatives, and provide favored groups with freebies at the expense of politically unpopular ones. Some people dispute the promise of green technology, calling it a false messiah.  And many people point out that the federal government has a paucity of money left to spend on subsidizing anything.  How–if at all–should the federal government spend the people’s money with respect to green technology research?

~KS APR ’11

Posted in Domestic Affairs, Environment0 Comments

Resolved, that offshore drilling is vital to maintaining the U.S. economy.

Since 2003, the price of crude oil has increased throughout the world. Whether due to conflicts in the Middle East and Central America or price hikes on the behalf of oil-refiners themselves, the simple fact is that the U.S. is heavily dependent on foreign oil as a source of energy. In 2008, a moratorium on the ban on offshore drilling was lifted with hopes that doing so would decrease America’s reliance on foreign energy. In our current economic climate, many have argued for the increased expansion of offshore drilling, despite the recent disaster at Deepwater Horizon. Proponents argue that increasing domestic supplies will help buffer against volatile changes in the price of crude internationally. On the other hand, the Deepwater Horizon spill was the worst man-made disaster in the country’s history, impacting literally millions of Americans and their livelihoods. The complete impact of the oil-spill on the local economy has yet to be determined. Alternatively, the money invested in drilling could be used to explore or invest in green technology that would ultimately help achieve the longer term goal of energy independence while investing significant dollars into the economy.  So should we still engage in off-shore drilling?

KS/MARCH 2011

Posted in Economics, Environment0 Comments

Resolved, that an increased usage of nuclear energy is a threat to the environment.

After the power of nuclear fission was unlocked during World War 2, many scientists and governments have striven to implement built nuclear reactors to generate power. Although controversial because of its potential dangers and radioactive byproduct, it currently provides for about 6.3% of the entire world’s energy, with a much greater percentage in many countries. Many believe nuclear power is the way of the future with few greenhouse gas emissions, great cost efficiency, and solid storable waste. However, many are wary of the consequences of investing in nuclear energy. However, after seeing the outcomes from incidents like Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, and most recently the Japanese quake-tsunami disaster, many wonder if the risk of using such an efficient energy is worth it. The possibility of nuclear meltdowns and the difficulty of storing nuclear waste are threats to the environment. Is the spread of nuclear power a threat to the environment?

KS~MARCH 2011

Posted in Environment2 Comments

Thought Talk: Do market approaches have a greater potential to reduce carbon emission than regulatory approaches?

Over ninety-seven percent of scientists now definitively agree that human-induced global warming is a serious environmental problem, and that carbon emissions must be drastically cut.  However, how should governments and private companies approach this problem?  Many argue that stimulating the growth of “green” industry will produce incentive to reduce carbon emissions without hurting the global economy.  However, opponents reason that incentive to maximize profits could potentially undermine efforts to make meaningful progress against global warming, and that only strict regulation of businesses to reduce carbon emissions will actually accomplish the task.  Which of these approaches has greater potential to reduce carbon emissions?

KS~MARCH 2011

Posted in Domestic Affairs, Environment1 Comment

Resolved, that the human impact on global climate change is exaggerated.

From changes in Arctic water levels to an increase in temperature world wide, global warming is a scientific process that is accepted by most experts around the world. It is unclear however, how much of it is due to the actions of humans. One could say that climate change is caused primarily by humans by pointing out our production of massive amounts of industrial carbon dioxide and other hazardous gasses, our production of hazardous materials, and our dependence on fossil fuels and oil. However, according to Science Magazine, the number one chemical causing the “Greenhouse Effect” is water vapor, which is produced naturally, causing others to claim that global warming is a perfectly natural cycle–nothing to be afraid of or take action against. After being given some evidence that our industrial by-products may not be the deciding factor in climate change, are we really to be blamed?  What should we do?

KS~MARCH 2011

Posted in Environment, Science1 Comment

Resolved, that nuclear power and clean coal should be considered “green” energy sources.

Resolved, that nuclear power and clean coal should be considered “green” energy sources.

Background: Green energy often means sustainable energy, i.e., energy that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising future generations’ needs.  Sustainable energy sources typically include renewable energy which is derived from natural processes that are constantly replenished. Renewable energy sources include solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and hydropower.  Coal is a non-renewable fossil fuel resource like oil—supplies of coal and oil are finite and will only diminish over time.  Nuclear power could continue forever and is sometimes considered sustainable, but is politically controversial because of various perceived risks like radioactive waste disposal and nuclear disaster due to accident, terrorism, or natural disaster.  However, nuclear power is the least expensive form of power now known to mankind.  No belching smokestacks of filthy black smoke.  No land or water pollution.  Nothing released into the atmosphere.  Takes up a few hundred acres of land at most, compared to the tens of thousands of acres for solar or wind use with the attendant loss of natural scenery.  And no death or injuries ever in the US nuclear industry compared to the hundreds of thousands of people disabled by black lung and other respiratory and carcinogenic diseases from coal plus the thousands of worker deaths in coal mining accidents.  The arsenic levels in coal ash increase the risk of cancer hundreds of times over.  Many believe that the perceived dangers from nuclear power come mainly from Hollywood.  On the other hand, the idea of “clean” coal comes mainly from Madison Avenue.  Many believe that clean coal is merely “public relations” by the coal industry.  There is no meaningful way to capture and sequester carbon emissions from coal.   Others contend that clean coal’s pragmatic benefits outweigh potential flaws.  The matter must be resolved soon as the green movement continues to re-energize the energy sector:

~KS FEB ’11


Posted in Domestic Affairs, Environment, Featured Debates3 Comments

Historical Debate: Resolved, that great empires have been built at the expense of the environment.

The great empires of the world, from Ancient Egypt to the Napoleonic Empire, have undoubtedly furthered civilization, knowledge, and art, but have they done so at the expense of the environment? Proponents of this resolutuion point to harmful methods of deforestation, agriculture, and mining that old empires used. Opponents, however, say that these great civilizations did much to help the environment—Great Britain, for example, used conservation to preserve resources in wildlife parks and forests and to guarantee efficient use of soil and water. In view of all of this, do the good effects of empires outweigh the bad, or are great empires necessarily detrimental to the environment?

Last edited by KS on FEB 2011

Posted in Environment, Historical1 Comment

Resolved, President Obama has not done enough to spur alternative energy production.

Since An Inconvenient Truth, the United States has been pressed significantly to make fundamental changes to our energy system. Suggestions have ranged from making our energy grid smarter, to banning offshore oil drilling, to the mass production of hydrogen cars. While some ideas are more feasible than others, many critics of the Obama administration claim that the United States has not done enough, either by allocating money or bolstering the Department of Energy, to bolster the production of alternative energies.

Pro:

1. No significant investments in the private sectornhave been made by the federal government.

2. Alternative energies have not become as widely available as the President campaigned.

3. Money allocated for investment has become lost in the federal bureaucracy.

Con:

1. The Department of Energy has made strides in the development of alternative energy.

2. The budget and stimulus package made provisions for alternative energies.

3. Private development of alternative energies has significantly increased since Obama was inaugurated.

Posted in Domestic Affairs, Environment1 Comment

Resolved, that government mandated implementation of “green” technology is ineffective.

Many scientists and citizens around the world have great anxiety about the state of the environment and its future. In addition, valuable resources that we are dependent on becoming more and more hard to find. The government has tried to amend these problems and concerns by ordering the use of technology which is less harmful to the environment. This interference of the government is viewed as very undesirable to many Americans. Are the rewards of such mandates worth its cost?

Posted in Domestic Affairs, Environment2 Comments