The Instigator
RoyLatham
Pro (for)
Winning
24 Points
The Contender
falafel
Con (against)
Losing
11 Points

Alternative energy methods should be proposed with total costs

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
RoyLatham
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/15/2009 Category: Technology
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,853 times Debate No: 8284
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (27)
Votes (5)

 

RoyLatham

Pro

For this debate, "alternative energy" means a fuel, method, or apparatus designed to reduce or eliminate consumption of traditional fossil fuels as they are now employed. http://www.thefreedictionary.com... "Total costs" includes all the costs associated with producing, shipping, storing, and using the alternative energy. Costs include dollar costs and environmental impact. Dollar costs include capital costs, indirect induced costs, and operating costs.

The resolution is largely moot for private investment in alternative energy, because investors make it their business to understand costs. For private investment, the laws governing environmental impact apply. The resolution has it's primary impact for proposed government funding, subsidies, and regulations. Citizens have a right to know the true costs of government actions not only in terms of what the government is spending, but including the indirect costs on society.

An example of the principle of the resolution being applied is the accounting of nuclear power plant decommissioning costs. When a nuclear power plant is ultimately taken out of service, there are significant costs in making the plant site safe. Those are figured into the costs of the plant, disclosed, and accounted for by setting up a fund to pay for the plant decommissioning. (A quirky California law requires decommissioning costs to be disclosed on electric bills; it's about four cents on a $200 electric bill.)

Examples of the principle of the resolution being ignored are plentiful. Solar and wind power are generally unreliable. The sun is absent every night. Even in windy locations the wind may cease for many days at a time, or the winds may be seasonal. Consequently, usually a backup power source, like a gas-driven power plant must be added to the grid to pick up the load when the alternative energy source is unavailable. The capital costs of the backup are generally about 70% of the cost of running the plant full time. In other words, the fossil fuel is about 30% of the cost of the power, including the delivery system.

Here is an example of wind power being touted as cheaper, while totally ignoring the costs of a backup energy system: http://www.ucsusa.org... The article says that farmers can make money from selling wind energy, but ignores the extra cost to the public. The wind turbine operator is getting a substantial subsidy from ratepayers who must pay the capital costs for two systems.

In some applications, no backup system will be required. For example, if solar power is used to supply peak loads to Las Vegas or Phoenix in the summer, it is probably a good assumption that the sun will be shining when the power is needed. If it happens to be cloudy, then the weather is probably cooler so than the air conditioning load will be less, so that seems like a very good application for solar power. However, if the costs are analyzed for Chicago or New York, it's likely that a full accounting would reveal a different story.

Failure to perform and disclose total costs has lead to a major policy error in the government subsidies for ethanol. Ethanol production from corn requires lots of energy-intensive fertilizer, an expensive delivery system, and high costs of taking land out of food production. http://www.thefreedictionary.com... That was not disclosed or even a thought through before the policy was committed.

The U.S. government is now adopting policies that favor electric cars. The energy and environmental costs http://green.yahoo.com... of making the batteries are generally ignored, and the very high capital costs of the cars is downplayed. An electric car that will run for 40 miles may cost $40,000. http://www.cbsnews.com... To make that widely salable, large government subsidies would be required.

Total cost accounting amounts to honesty in developing energy policy. It does not preclude adopting more expensive alternatives. For example, a case could be argued that ethanol and electric cars effective consume coal (to produce fertilizer and batteries) in favor of imported oil. If costs are disclosed, that case can be argued on the merits.

The resolution would avoid bogus claims that, for example, if a kilowatt hour of wind power is the same or lower than coal, the wind power is obviously preferable. The wind power costs may be double when the backup generator is taken into account.

How much the backup costs is site dependent. In some circumstances, wind power might be used to pump water uphill into an existing hydroelectric project. That's probably much cheaper than having to build a gas-turbine plant. My point is only that full costs should be disclosed.

This is a "should" resolution. It means that environmental activists and government officials should honestly perform the total cost analysis and disclose the numbers to the public. This is now rarely done, so it would greatly improve the quality of public policy decisions.

Con may argue that government should not provide any subsidies. If so, that does not dispute the resolution. Investors should be fully informed of costs even if government is not involved. Con may argue that even when total costs are disclosed, there is economically sound alternative energy. If so, that does not dispute the resolution either. The resolution will nonetheless favor the best solutions.

The resolution is affirmed.
falafel

Con

I will offer a counter plan to the resolution.
Instead of proposing them with total costs, I will advocate we should claim they cost 3545467.5 times as much as they do now.
This is mutually exclusive with affirming as clearly you cannot propose it with total costs and propose it with 3545467.5 times as much costs at the same time.
This is beneficial because prices this high will mean people will continue to rely on fossil fuels and thus contribute to global warming.
Global warming is good because:
A) Warming is good in that warming promotes peace and stability:
Warmer is better- history proves it facilitates peace.
Idso et al., Ph.D Soil Science, 11/16/05 (Sherwood, Keith and Craig Idso, "War and Social Unrest- Summary" http://www.co2science.org... 7/20/08)
Craig Idso 1 writes "What is the connection between rising air temperatures and CO2 concentrations and social stability? Zhang et al. (2005) note that historians typically identify political, economic, cultural and ethnic unrest as the chief causes of war and civil strife. However, the five Chinese scientists argue that climate plays a key role as well; and to examine their thesis, they compared proxy climate records with historical data on wars, social unrest and dynastic transitions in China from the late Tang to Qing Dynasties (mid-9th century to early 20th century). This work revealed that war frequencies, peak war clusters, nationwide periods of social unrest and dynastic transitions were all significantly associated with cold phases of China's oscillating climate. More specifically, all three distinctive peak war clusters (defined as more than 50 wars in a 10-year period) occurred during cold climatic phases, as did all seven periods of nationwide social unrest and nearly 90 percent of all dynastic changes that decimated this largely agrarian society. As a result, they concluded that climate change was "one of the most important factors in determining the dynastic cycle and alternation of war and peace in ancient China," with warmer climates having been immensely more effective than cooler climates in terms of helping to "keep the peace."" End quote.
War and disrupting society must be stopped at all costs due to the fact that in todays world people don't just go stab each other with pitch forks we have nuclear weapons. This is important because:
1) We have already several times come close to nuclear war and there are many countries that keep their fingers on the trigger, and who knows what this extra crises could do?
2) This isn't just a few more wars, the statistics show that almost 90% of all major wars and zones of dynastic change happened during cold periods.
Furthermore this outweighs on magnitude as nuclear war would destroy all possible life on the planet as it is toxic to everything and is not limited or prevented by factors like height and is not survivable. T.E. Bearden affirms: T.E. Bearden LTC U.S. Army (ret) Director of Association of Distinguished American Scientists and Fellow Emeritus, Alpha Foundation's Institute for Advanced Study, The Unnecessary Energy Crisis: How to Solve It Quickly, 6-24-2k, http://www.seaspower.com...
History bears out that desperate nations take desperate actions." As an example, suppose a starving North Korea launches nuclear weapons upon Japan and South Korea, including U.S. forces there, in a spasmodic suicidal response. Or suppose a desperate China, whose long-range nuclear missiles (some) can reach the United States, attacks Taiwan. In addition to immediate responses, the mutual treaties involved in such scenarios will quickly draw other nations into the conflict, escalating it significantly. Strategic nuclear studies have shown for decades that, under such extreme stress conditions, once a few nukes are launched, adversaries and potential adversaries are then compelled to launch on perception of preparations by one's adversary. The real legacy of the MAD concept is this side of the MAD coin that is almost never discussed. Without effective defense, the only chance a nation has to survive at all is to launch immediate full-bore pre-emptive strikes and try to take out its perceived foes as rapidly and massively as possible. As the studies showed, rapid escalation to full WMD exchange occurs." Thus nuclear war on any level results in an infinite chain of escalation till extinction occurs.
B) Without increases global warming the world will lapse into famine.
Keith and creig idso write
Idso, Craig and Keith (Ex-Director of Environmental Science at Peabody Energy in St. Louis, and Ph.D. in Geography from Arizona State University. PhD in Botany from Arizona State University. "Biofuels as religious fodder" http://www.co2science.org...) 1/30/2008
"Borlaug notes, for example, that "for the foreseeable future, plants - especially the cereals - will continue to supply much of our increased food demand, both for direct human consumption and as livestock feed to satisfy the rapidly growing demand for meat in the newly industrializing countries." In fact, he states that "the demand for cereals will probably grow by 50% over the next 20 years and even larger harvests will be needed if more grain is diverted to produce biofuels." Noting that most food increases of the future "will have to come from lands already in productio]," and that "70% of global water withdrawals are for irrigating agricultural lands," Borlaug's facts suggest that crop water use efficiency (biomass produced per unit of water used) will have to be increased dramatically if we are to meet humanity's food needs of the future without creating the disastrous consequences he outlines above; and it should be evident to all but those most blinded to the truth that this requirement can only be met if biofuels are not a part of the picture, while the aerial fertilization and anti-transpiration effects of atmospheric CO2 enrichment are. Although Borlaug notes that conventional plant breeding, improvements in crop management, tillage, fertilization, and weed and pest control, as well as genetic engineering, will help significantly in this regard, we will in all likelihood need the beneficial biological byproducts of concomitant increases in the atmosphere's CO2 concentration in addition. Without them, to borrow a chilling phrase from Borlaug, "efforts to halt global poverty will grind to a halt," and much of the world of nature will be no longer." End quote.

Thus famines are an inventible outcome since grain is a staple food of most of the world and so the amount of grain feeding the world would be so far behind the need that there would be millions of starving people.
This outweighs on probability as global warming has no exact known effects while poverty while idso explains that the grain production MUST increase by 50% over the next 20 years if it wants to remain anywhere near the demand, and this is unrealistic in our situation now. Therefore the sole workable solution that can possibly be effective and possible to afford is to increase CO2 levels.

I would like to thank my opponent for letting me test insane cards I found during off-season.
Debate Round No. 1
RoyLatham

Pro

Con's counter proposal is defective because it does not facilitate public policy debate. The reason why total costs should be disclosed is to get all the facts on the table to facilitate an honest debate. Had that been done, for example, with ethanol or wind power, we might have greatly improved the laws pouring large sums of the taxpayer's money into subsidies. On the other hand, we might have focused more effort into using solar power for demand peaking in the large cities of the American Southwest. Con's counter proposal is another mechanism for ensuring that none of the real issues are avoided.

Con's case contains numerous irrelevancies. For example, whether or not global warming is, overall, favorable to human affairs is irrelevant because alternative energy source are sought to reduce foreign dependence on oil, and because it is inevitable that fossil fuels will run out. In addition, most utilities are tightly regulated by government, so there should be an ongoing discussion of the cost-effectiveness of alternatives. If there were no global warming and no foreign dependence on oil, we would still be concerned with obtaining energy at the lowest cost and with minimizing pollution.

The resolution is affirmed.
falafel

Con

My opponent did not present direct responses to my points.
His first argument seem to be that:
1) It does not facilitate public policy debate, and that it avoids real issues.
I answer with a simple, so what?
This may sound harsh but the risks of extinction which have gone un-responded too outweigh the need for honesty, which is where I will deal with my opponent's should analysis. He claims should implies a moral issue and thus we debate fairness or "deontological" issues. However I see no reason why utilitarian values are not just as moral. Utilitarianism, the ends based system of measuring morality, is far superior then this general, "people should ACT according to some abstract moral standard", because:
1) there are no 'universal moral truths.' Such truths are difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain. On the other hand, the benefits and disadvantages of actions are much more easily calculated. Thus, rather than relying on amorphous, vague moral truths to guide action we should look to more concrete ways of determining the ethics of a particular act to allow us to actually weigh actions and understand what impacts could be in the first place.
2) What do we do when absolute moral principles in deontology conflict? For example if we say retributive justice is an absolute moral principle, then we cannot do a plea bargain as then the one receiving the bargain would not be getting their full due of punishment. However what if that plea bargain could result in 10 more criminals getting their due of punishment?
So we must look to and ends based system of morality and in this system I have showed in my counter plan that we risk extinction without global warming. Colder temperatures support war and in a nuclear world we cannot risk this. And as I showed with bearden any nuclear war is by necessity unlimited in scope. Extinction or even the probability thereof outweighs all else as it ends all life forever, it takes away all the future lives also. No matter the probability it outweighs all else as a fraction of infinity is still infinity.

My opponents second point was that alternative energy sources are sought to reduce dependence on foreign oil and that it is inevitable that fossil fuels will run out. I would say this is simply not true, lets be honest here, the main support or at least one of the main supports for alternatives is global warming. Causing people to be afraid of alternatives will make us use fossil fuels here especially at 3545467.5 times at much.
And on the point that fossil fuels will run out eventually anyway I would say that
1)If we can use enough, and if we use enough that it's actually gone, we would of put enough out to warm the planet more. This means you should compare which planet will be warmer and since mine would be because of the outpouring of fossil fuels there is:
A) Reduced chance of nuclear war and extinction
B) Reduced chance of famine, we need more c02 in the air not to have a famine in grains. A famine would cause massive harms to human life and also decimate our chances of stopping poverty a leading killer in the world.

My opponent last point-like thing about how, If there were no global warming and no foreign dependence on oil, we would still be concerned with obtaining energy at the lowest cost and with minimizing pollution, is irrelevant. At the very least making alternatives appear more expensive will cause MORE fossil fuel output then there is on his side and thus maximizing global warming.
Resolution, consider yourself negated.
Debate Round No. 2
RoyLatham

Pro

The is no need for me to discuss points that are irrelevant to the topic. Con rambles about social stability, nuclear war, dynastic stability, and numerous other obvious irrelevancies. Since there are no claims relevant to the resolution, there is nothing to refute.

Con concedes that his alternative does not facilitate public policy debate and avoids real issues. He says, "I answer with a simple, so what?" Since Con is participating in a public policy debate, he implicitly recognizes the value of such debates. therefore his argument is sophistry.

I cite Con for bad conduct in accepting the debate challenge then wasting my time and the reader's time with irrelevant childish arguments. Moreover, Con killed the topic, which might have otherwise been accepted by someone who could explain why the practice of ignoring the total costs of alternative energy is so widely ignored.

Even if one does not believe CO2 is responsible for climate change, we should be concerned with energy independence and with the inevitable depletion of fossil fuels. Therefore, the resolution should be affirmed to help develop practical alternatives.
falafel

Con

My opponent makes numerous claims about my arguments. He calls them childish and irrelevant. If they are so irrelevant and childish I would ask my opponent to actually engage my points and prove them wrong. Saying, "I dislike your arguments so I shouldn't have to debate them," is not an argument.
There is a clear link to this resolution. The resolution says to say the real cost and so I offered a view of a world where we don't and showed the benefits. Just because it's not the first thing you think of doesn't mean my points are not sufficient to negate.

And sure, I do not facilitate public policy debate. And yes I realize they can have value. But I also believe that the value of public policy debate is not as big a deal as extinction. You might think that point of extinction seems ridiculous, or what have you, but if it's that ridiculous you should of responded and won easily!

The third argument seems to be just insulting me because I offered creative arguments. Yes, I offered a point that was different and not what you wanted to debate, tough luck.

And on the last point again extinction>practical alternatives.
All my points have survived the round and gone un-refuted.
And as a new voter, ask yourself: Do you really want to live in a world where people can just not engage arguments they dislike? Yes I find denying the holocaust morality repulsive but I'll engage those who claim this in a debate just to show how wrong they are. So I urge a vote of con for that and to stop extinction and famine.
Debate Round No. 3
27 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by alto2osu 7 years ago
alto2osu
Well, considering that his account is now inactivated, I wouldn't worry about crap sources from him for a while :D
Posted by fresnoinvasion 8 years ago
fresnoinvasion
IDSO!? Really? Just because you use such a bias BS source you are losing this round, falafel. Don't ruin debates with such great potential with horribly executed "policy debate".
Posted by RoyLatham 8 years ago
RoyLatham
"I meant that I hope that no one actually starts to hate on climate change not that they are not valid arguments. I like to breathe."

Totally incoherent.
Posted by falafel 8 years ago
falafel
I meant that I hope that no one actually starts to hate on climate change not that they are not valid arguments. I like to breathe.
Posted by Flare_Corran 8 years ago
Flare_Corran
Why? They're all good arguments.
I disagree with their application of course, but the arguments are fine.
Posted by falafel 8 years ago
falafel
Just to excuse myself now, the con things I put up I disagree with in every manner shape and form. just want to see if it's at all possible for someone to even argue this approach.
Posted by BishMasterJr 8 years ago
BishMasterJr
I've been thinking about the topic, and from reading the posts, I believe that there is one suitable neg.

The neg. could argue utilitarianism. Saying that lying to the public and making them believe it is cheaper is the best way to achieve the end goal of a completely green energy market. I would then go about trying to argue that all alt. energies are outrageously expensive (not saying i believe that, just trying to come up with a Neg.) and that if the full price was posted, nobody would want them, especially considering the economic crisis. Then say that it is best to come to the end goal of a green energy market, and that lying to do so is acceptable. Utilitarianism.

However, being it finals week at my high school, and also being it that I am already in 4 debates, I lack the time, and the want, to argue this side of things. But I may be able to debate this topic at a later time.
Posted by InfraRedEd 8 years ago
InfraRedEd
Is someone suposed to argue that costs should not be disclosed?
Posted by InfraRedEd 8 years ago
InfraRedEd
They could save by using nuclear power to build nuclear plants, for example. But they don't. They still use fossil fuels.
Posted by InfraRedEd 8 years ago
InfraRedEd
The biofuels debacle was not due to failure to analyse cost but failure to think. There is no remedy for that. Of course you have to do something with the corn, burn it or decommission it or whatever after you process it. They didn't think of that. Of course fuels are now in competition with food for the agridollar and there are worldwide food riots. They didn't think of that. Of course large government subsidies are needed to keep biofuels afloat. They certainly thought of that.
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Vote Placed by fresnoinvasion 8 years ago
fresnoinvasion
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Vote Placed by alto2osu 8 years ago
alto2osu
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Vote Placed by Lexicaholic 8 years ago
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Vote Placed by falafel 8 years ago
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Vote Placed by RoyLatham 8 years ago
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