The Instigator
UnStupendousMan
Pro (for)
Winning
6 Points
The Contender
Spock
Con (against)
Losing
1 Points

Choose a Resolution Debate

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
UnStupendousMan
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/29/2012 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,806 times Debate No: 23926
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (27)
Votes (5)

 

UnStupendousMan

Pro

I want to have a debate, but I can't choose a resolution. Here are some which I am interested in debating:

-Resolved: Nuclear power plants should replace coal as the main source of home electricity in the United States. (I'm PRO)
-Resolved: Gladiator Battles Should be Legal if Both Sides are Willing to Fight* (PRO)
*I know I did this one before. My opponent didn't argue. I want to do it again.
-Resolved: The Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are Justified. (PRO)
-Resolved: Psilocybin Mushrooms should be removed from the list of Schedule 1 drugs in the United States (In other words, Magic Mushrooms should be legalized) (PRO)
-A story debate (a story written by the two parties involved, whoever writes the best wins)
-A cartoon debate (the debaters draw one-panel cartoons (like most political cartoons) and whoever draws the best cartoons wins. The cartoons don't have to be political.)

Definitions, etc. can be decided in the comments.
8,000 character limit
72 hours to argue.

I hope for a good and interesting debate.
Spock

Con

I would like to thank my opponent for starting this debate, and accept it; I would like to debate the following topic:

-Resolved: Nuclear power plants should replace coal as the main source of home electricity in the United States. (I'm PRO)

I would ask that, since I am a new debater, my opponent set his terms in the comment section, if he has any.

I wish my opponent good luck, and thank him, once again.
Debate Round No. 1
UnStupendousMan

Pro

I thank my opponent for accepting my debate. My internet was down all of yesterday, so my case is probably not as good as it should be, due to limited time.

Before we start, I would like to take a moment and actually explain a little the parameters of the debate, aside from the definitions, given in the comments. The comments say that nuclear power is power derived from nuclear energy. While this can involve both nuclear fission and fusion, my opponent probably accepted this debate believing that he would just argue against nuclear fission, not agains nuclear fusion. For all those who don't know, nuclear fission is the process by which atoms are split into smaller atoms to make energy, and nuclear fusion is when atoms are combined to produce energy. Nuclear fission powers 100% of all operational nuclear power plants that produce electricity. Nuclear fusion is very experimental and is being experimented with it. The best nuclear fusion plants on earth don't make electricity; they just eat it up. I'm going to spare my opponent and myself and strip nuclear fusion from the debate; it's exclusion will get to the heart and spirit of the debate and help avoid semantic arguments (which, for my opponent's sake, are frowned upon).

***

Nuclear power should replace coal as the main source of home electricity in the United States. This is because nuclear power is more environmentally friendly than coal and it is, surprisingly, safer than coal.

Here are my contentions:

1) Nuclear Power is more Environmentally Friendly than Coal

I'm not going to argue that Nuclear energy, with uranium mining, etc., that it's not a carbon-neutral process. But it is a whole lot better than coal.

First off, U-235 (the main fuel in nuclear fuel rods) is a whole lot more energy dense than coal. Coal has 24 megajoules (MJ) per kilo, while U-235 has 79,500,000 MJ per kilo.[1] That's quite a difference. This means that, while U-235 is never found pure in the ground or purified to such a level for peaceful purposes, it still is a whole lot more efficient than coal. A pound of highly enriched submarine fuel (which is not all that different than fuel used in nuclear power plants) is equal to that of a million pounds of gas [2] (which is more energy-dense than coal).

In addition, while both coal and nuclear both produce pollution due to mining, and both have toxic waste [3], only coal produces pollutants, namely CO2, when it is used to produce electricity. The ubiquitous nuclear cooling towers are billowing not soot nor carbon dioxide, but steam. [4] In addition, a fully functioning nuclear power plant releases LESS radiation than a coal-fired one. [5]

2) Nuclear Power is Safer than Coal

While nuclear power has caused some serious damage (Chernobyl), it is much safer now than it was previously, partly because of the stigma that surrounds nuclear power.

According to Wikipedia, 24,000 lives were shortened by coal-fired power plants per year in the United States.[6] That's a staggering number. In eight years, that would be enough to roughly equal the amount of excess cancer deaths that Greenpeace estimates that the cancer deaths associated with Chernobyl induced. [7] If you include all the shortened lives that were caused by coal, which has been used for much, much longer than nuclear, than the numbers start to pile up against coal.

In addition, aside from the disasters at Three MIle Island (which isn't on the same level as the other nuclear disasters), Chernobyl and Fukushima, nuclear has a very clean record. It is the safest power source out there, [8] and because of it's scares, it will only get safer with new and better designs coming out. [9]

I thank my opponent and and hopefully next round I will have more time to access the internet and better arguments.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://science.howstuffworks.com...
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[5] http://science.howstuffworks.com...
[6] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[7] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[8] http://www.ehow.com...
[9] http://en.wikipedia.org...
Spock

Con

I would like to thank my opponent for his opening statement and, as a new debater, ask that he provide any constructive criticism in the comments and bare with me if I do anything that is frowned upon on DDO. I also thank my opponent for stripping nuclear fusion from the debate.

Resolved: Nuclear power should not replace coal as the primary source of electricity generation in the United States of America.

I would first like to stress that I agree wholeheartedly with my opponent on his contentions. I agree that Nuclear Power is more environmentally friendly AND safer in general.

However, there are aspects of Nuclear power that remain to be considered, and will found my contentions, which are as follows:

1.) Nuclear power simply replaces the crutch that coal based electricity generation has become.

Electricity generation as it stands is a very flawed and highly inefficient process. It comes from using a source of energy to boil water and use the resultant steam in order to do mechanical work, turning a turbine to produce electricity. The many different steps of the process hold it back this form of electrical generation back in and of itself. Looking into the future, we also see that though coal is plentiful, it is bound to run out at some period in time. This is the same for the sources of energy behind nuclear fission; though the resources are plentiful (by some standards. There are those who, like I, debate whether or not you can even consider nuclear power a renewable energy source [2]), they are also bound to run out at sometime, be it even 1,000's of years from now. [1]

2.) Nuclear power has certain flaws that prevent it from being a long lasting energy source for the future

Nuclear power may not pump carbon into the air, but it has byproducts that need to be dealt with; I'm speaking of nuclear waste, of course. We just simply have nothing to do with it, other than essentially sticking it in different places [3]. I mean, this is a huge flaw in and of itself. The primary pollutants of coal are indeed dangerous, but not as hazardous as nuclear waste. And once we run out of space to store it, or enough of it collects to emanate harmful radiation through sure to come shoddy management practice, we'll run into some real problems.

________

To close, I'd just like to say that I agree with my opponent in his obvious sentiment that coal is obsolete and harmful to the human condition. However, I don't think nuclear power (fusion, maybe. definitely not fission) is the way ahead. We're just going to run out of space to store our waste, or materials to generate heat. And then, we're left to scrounge around for the next viable energy source.

What we should instead do is develop technology to redefine our energy production and consumption, not simply supplant faulty techniques with duplicate faulty techniques. I truly feel that the way of the future in energy production for the world is solar power [4]. Even with the solar panels of today, it would take less land usage than the area of Spain to power the entire world [5]. The problem with solar power simply lies in our inability to effectively and economically harness the power of the sun to positive ends (I read somewhere that if we could get solar panels to optimum efficiency, the United States would need only 10% of the area of Montana to power the entire nation). We need to continue to work on efficiency of photo-voltaic cells and improve battery life and size in order to really send our society into the future of energy production.

I thank my opponent and look forward to his coming argument.

1.) http://www.world-nuclear.org...
2. http://www.renewableenergyworld.com...
3.) http://www.guardian.co.uk...
4.) http://news.bbc.co.uk...
5.) http://gizmodo.com...
Debate Round No. 2
UnStupendousMan

Pro

I thank my opponent for responding.

I must first point out that my opponent has conceded my two points. He agrees that nuclear energy is both more environmentally friendly and it is safer. My points stand true, and now it is now my duty to refute my opponent’s arguments.

Now onto my opponent’s contentions:

1) Nuclear Power will replace coal as a crutch

First of all, I’m not sure how this contention relates with the subject at hand. Both coal-fired plants and nuclear power plants heat water to turn a turbine that produces electricity. In addition, he points out that coal will run out, just like the uranium that powers nuclear power plants. He basically states that coal is on par with nuclear. Without further support in showing that coal is superior to show that coal is superior to nuclear, this argument is refuted by itself.

2) Nuclear waste

I understand that nuclear waste is a problem with nuclear energy. However, much of the spent nuclear fuel can be reprocessed back into nuclear fuel. [1] This does not end the need for long-term nuclear waste disposal, but it does reduce the volume of high-level waste that needs to be put into storage. In addition, the Guardian article that my opponent brings up as his [3] source explains some of the options that scientists currently have in disposing of nuclear waste such as throwing it into the sun, letting it sink into the core and putting it on Antarctica (which is currently not feasible, due to the Antarctic treaty which bans it). These are some imaginative options. If the need becomes even more pressing, I would expect that scientists and cooperation's would become more innovative with their ideas for nuclear storage. Which could eventually solve the problem of nuclear storage. In addition, the pressing need of nuclear waste piling up will create a profit motive for cooperations to hold and maintain nuclear waste, which would create jobs. Nothing negative there.

Finally, my opponent brings up solar as an alternate to both nuclear and coal. However, this debate is about whether nuclear power should replace coal as the main source of home electricity, not about solar. So this point is completely irrelevant to the heart and soul of this debate. If my opponent wants to argue for solar, he can but just not in this debate.

With my opponent's points rebutted, and my own accepted by my opponent, I conclude my rebuttal and urge a positive ballot.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
Spock

Con

Spock forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
UnStupendousMan

Pro

Extend arguments, since my opponent forfeited his R4 argument.
Spock

Con

I'm just going to post what was my previous argument, since I still have it saved and apologize once again, for marring the debate. Please assess and dock me for this in the voting.

I would like to also point out, for the benefit of those voting, that I did indeed concede with my opponents first two points, in the previous round.

1.) Nuclear power will replace coal as a crutch.

I apologize for any ambiguity. The resolution, as stated, is ": Nuclear power plants should replace coal as the main source of home electricity in the United States. (I'm PRO)". My opponent is attempting to prove that nuclear power should replace coal as the main source of home electricity in the United States. I am simply trying to prove that nuclear power should not replace it. When saying that nuclear power will replace coal as a crutch, I am pointing out that nuclear power SHOULD NOT replace coal for the fact that, though it is safer and more environmentally friendly, as my opponent pointed out, it does not fix the bigger problem that we as a nation face. That problem being that our entire outlook on energy usage is flawed. We need a new approach, one that does not rely on a non-renewable energy source, and one that isn't short term.

"Without further support in showing that coal is superior to show that coal is superior to nuclear, this argument is refuted by itself."

Just to clarify again, I am not stating that coal is superior. I fully agree that nuclear power, in most senses, is far superior to coal power. But the resolution does not ask me to prove that coal power is superior nuclear power. It merely asks me to prove that nuclear power SHOULD NOT replace coal power in the home. (I didn't do the semantic argument thing did I? If so, I apologize, and ask that I be docked during the voting period by those voting).

2. Nuclear waste

My opponent states he expects that scientists would become more innovative with their ideas for nuclear storage. This is valid assumption. But the problem still persists because all you can do with nuclear waste is store it. That's it. And eventually, with the amount of energy that the United States uses, we would run out of space. My opponent has to concede that point. No matter how crafty, how innovative we get, logic simply says that we will run out of space.

"Finally, my opponent brings up solar as an alternate to both nuclear and coal. However, this debate is about whether nuclear power should replace coal as the main source of home electricity, not about solar."

Completely right. I was bringing up solar power to give my opponent a better idea of the outlook we should have on energy usage. We need to utilize a PURELY renewable source, and back out of the faulty energy processes we're using today. I wanted my opponent just to get an idea of a better way. He also said that the pressing need for storing nuclear waste would lead to more jobs, etc. So would the need to commercialize solar energy. In fact, more so, since there are so many more components and needs for expansion inside of the field.

Just to wrap up, I feel as if I have marred this debate a little because I'm a noob. To make my opponents last round a bit easier, I'll try and attempt to use a quick little template I've seen on other debates, and ask that he refute my points above ^ and use the set up to get an idea of my thought process and contentions, in order to fix the debate a little.

Resolved: Nuclear power SHOULD NOT replace coal as the main source of home electricity in the United States.

1. Nuclear Power is another quick fix solution with the some of the same flaws as coal power.
- It relies on a non-renewable energy source that will eventually run out.
- It loses a lot of energy through the already flawed, multi-stepped energy generation process.
- It's too shortsighted, and would only be beneficial until we ran out of materials.

2.) Nuclear Power's on unique flaws prevent it from being readily identified as the standing energy source of the future.
- The only means to dispose of nuclear waste, even after reprocessing it and using it again, is storage. Through that idea alone and keeping with the amount of energy used in the US, my opponent has to concede that we will eventually run out of space to put our nuclear waste, if we don't run out of usable materials before the problem occurs.

For these reasons, I conclude that nuclear power SHOULD NOT replace coal as the main source of home electricity in the United States.
Debate Round No. 4
27 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Chrysippus 5 years ago
Chrysippus
But that's not what I scored you on. It looked like you were arguing for solar, and at any rate for renewable energy with solar being your only example.
Posted by Chrysippus 5 years ago
Chrysippus
With sufficient uranium in the Earth's crust and oceans to meet 100% of our power needs for hundreds of thousands of years, especially with breeder reactors and the like, I'd say nuclear power is a fairly decent long-term solution.
http://www.americanenergyindependence.com...
Posted by Spock 5 years ago
Spock
The solar energy idea was more for comparison. I wasn't arguing that, but I failed to make that apparent. I was arguing that nuclear power wasn't good for a long term option, and it would just be plugging a leak with your finger instead of actually fixing it.
Posted by Chrysippus 5 years ago
Chrysippus
Conduct to Pro. Con forfeited rounds, albeit apparently not intentionally. Pro was unable to argue his final round, or counter any of the arguments Con brought up in the last round.

Spelling and grammar tied. Nothing grievous caught my eye.

Arguments to Pro.
The debate, as Pro intended it, was coal vs. nuclear. Con persisted in arguing nuclear and coal vs. solar, which was outside the scope of the debate. There are times when a counter proposal can be effective, but it must be both relevant to the debate and convincing. Con's argument in favor of solar was neither.

Let me elaborate on that, at the risk of appearing to argue for Pro. Con's argument was that we should allocate vast amounts of resources and land area to a very inefficient form of electricity production, because steam-based power generation is inefficient and uranium will run out one day. Last I read, solar power if far less efficient than nuclear plants, and the same innovation that he is counting on to make solar more practical can only make nuclear more attractive, both by finding new ways to use or dispose of the waste and by improving the actual power generation.

Since at the current state of technology nuclear is a more attractive option than solar power, Con's counter proposal falls flat. Pro refuted his only real argument, that of the nuclear waste, and con is left with no relevant arguments.

Con did a good job with his arguments, and in a nuclear vs. solar debate would have fared much better. It was a simple mistake, and he shouldn't feel badly about it.

Sources I left tied. I'm afraid I didn't follow up the sources, for lack of time; and the other, more significant problems this debate had rendered them irrelevant.
Posted by UnStupendousMan 5 years ago
UnStupendousMan
Thanks, Chrys.
Posted by Chrysippus 5 years ago
Chrysippus
The voting on this debate is shameful.

Reading and forming a RFD now.
Posted by Spock 5 years ago
Spock
Yeah, like i said i misinterpreted it. My apologies. All-in-all, I still enjoyed myself though.
Posted by UnStupendousMan 5 years ago
UnStupendousMan
Well, I was arguing for the replacement of coal power with nuclear power, but I thought that the CON position was automatically "Keep Coal" and not "Replace Coal with something else."
Posted by Spock 5 years ago
Spock
Well, I could have misinterpreted it. I thought you were just arguing for the replacement of coal with nuclear power, not nuclear power vs. coal power.
Posted by UnStupendousMan 5 years ago
UnStupendousMan
It's okay. I'm having reservations about how clear I was with the resolution. I wanted a debate on coal vs. nuclear, but my resolution I think left it open for other resources. The unclear resolution is my fault. So I"M the idiot. : )
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by Chrysippus 5 years ago
Chrysippus
UnStupendousManSpockTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.
Vote Placed by phantom 5 years ago
phantom
UnStupendousManSpockTied
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Reasons for voting decision: oops
Vote Placed by Ron-Paul 5 years ago
Ron-Paul
UnStupendousManSpockTied
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Reasons for voting decision: CCVB. You are an idiot daytonanerd.
Vote Placed by daytonanerd 5 years ago
daytonanerd
UnStupendousManSpockTied
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Reasons for voting decision: CVB
Vote Placed by AlwaysMoreThanYou 5 years ago
AlwaysMoreThanYou
UnStupendousManSpockTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit