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The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Developing countries should prioritize environmental protection over resource extraction

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/1/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,251 times Debate No: 43240
Debate Rounds (2)
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Hello, wanting to run my ld arguments for debate. Good luck :)

"Economic growth and environmental protection are not at odds. They're opposite sides of the same coin if you're looking at longer-term prosperity." Stated by Henry Paulson and affirming the resolution that "Developing countries should prioritize environmental protection over resource extraction when the two are in conflict."

For this debate I will be offering the definitions of crucial terms needed for understanding points.
Developing: starting to exist, experience, or possess.
Prioritize: designate or treat something as more important than another
Conflict : be incompatible or at variance; clash.

The value is utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as the doctrine that actions are right if they are useful or for the benefit of a majority. When we look at environmental protection, we see that the people"s well-being is secured, and so the action of protecting the environment benefits society, or the majority. Utilitarianism should be the preferred value this round. First, it is trying to give benefits for society, which link very well into developing countries, as they are striving to become developed, or improve. With utilitarianism as the preferred value, developing countries, a majority, gets the benefits for society through environmental protection.

Public health is the science of caring for the people of a community by giving them basic health care and health information, improving living conditions, etc. By protecting the environment, we are able to protect the world around us. This world is what we depend on to survive, and if we protect the world, we can protect the people. Hence, public health links into utilitarianism because public health keeps people healthy, which benefits society, the majority. Public health is of utmost importance because people and the environment are interdependent. When we prioritize environmental protection, we promote public health, which means that the well-being of society is secured, upholding utilitarianism.

Contention 1: Future implications of resource extraction guide us to a harder future that can be avoided. Arno Behrens, "Human history has always been closely linked to the control, extraction and use of natural resources. Over the past decades, however, demand for natural resources has accelerated to the extent that it is now widely considered a serious threat to the well-functioning of economies and societies due to associated environmental problems such as climate change, biodiversity loss, desertification, and ecosystem degradation (IPCC, 2007; EPA Network, 2006; Stern Review, 2006; Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005; Wuppertal Institute, 2005; WWF, 2004; UNEP, 2002). The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Synthesis Report (2005, p. 16), for example, states that "over the past 50 years, humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period of time in human history, largely to meet rapidly growing demands for food, fresh water, fibre and fuel. This has resulted in a substantial and largely irreversible loss in the diversity of life on Earth." One of the key sustainability challenges for the coming decades will thus be to improve the management of natural resources in order to reduce current levels of anthropogenic environmental pressures." The Niger Delta in Nigeria region could experience a loss of 40% of its inhabitable terrain in the next thirty years as a result of extensive dam construction in the region. The carelessness of the oil industry has also precipitated this situation, which can perhaps be best encapsulated by a 1983 report issued by the NNPC, long before popular unrest surfaced: We witnessed the slow poisoning of the waters of this country and the destruction of vegetation and agricultural land by oil spills which occur during petroleum operations. But since the inception of the oil industry in Nigeria, more than twenty-five years ago, there has been no concerned and effective effort on the part of the government, let alone the oil operators, to control environmental problems associated with the industry'.[1] The amount of money earned does not justify poisoning water supplies and not protecting the environment.

Contention 2: Focusing purely on resource extraction brings monopolization, an example would be blood diamonds. Experts claim that the illegal sale of blood diamonds has produced billions of dollars to fund civil wars and other conflicts in various African nations, including Sierra Leone (where conflict ended in 2002), Angola, Liberia, Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Most of the time, the people behind these civil wars and rebellions oppose legitimate governments and desire control over the area's lucrative diamond industry.
For example, in Sierra Leone a group known as the Revolutionary United Front killed, threatened, and even cut off the arms of people living and working in diamond villages until they were able to take control of the mines in the area. Then the group moved on to the next village to do more of the same, effectively terrorizing the entirety of Sierra Leone, to the point that many people fled their homes in fear. All in all, roughly 20,000 innocent people suffered bodily mutilation, 75,000 were killed and 2 million fled Sierra Leone altogether [source: PBS Online NewsHour]. According to National Geographic News, all of these conflicts combined have displaced millions and resulted in the deaths of more than 4 million people.
The valuing of resource extraction brings monopolization domination (of a market or commodity) to the exclusion of others. In order to not have this monopolization occur there has to be regulations put in by the government to protect the environment. Due to inadequate planning and regulation, diamond mining has wreaked environmental havoc throughout Africa and other parts of the world. But damage to the environment is not the inevitable result of diamond mining " there are ways to mitigate the effects. A century of reckless diamond mining has taken a heavy toll on Angola"s environment. Irresponsible diamond mining has caused soil erosion, led to deforestation, and forced local populations to relocate. Angola"s diamond industry has been particularly careless in protecting rivers and streams from exploitation. Diamond miners have re-routed rivers and constructed dams to expose riverbeds for mining, with disastrous effects on fish and wildlife.

Contention 3: The complication of environmental disaster vastly outweighs the benefits of resource extraction and countries with abundant resources don"t necessarily have success. Oil spills in countries can cost upwards of 40 billion dollars to repair or address and not only do they hurt the environment; they also take a huge chunk out of a developing countries pocket. The second point is that the resource curse, also known as the paradox of plenty, refers to the paradox that countries and regions with an abundance of natural resources, specifically point-source non-renewable resources like minerals and fuels, tend to have less economic growth and worse development outcomes than countries with fewer natural resources. This is hypothesized to happen for many different reasons, including a decline in the competitiveness of other economic sectors (caused by appreciation of the real exchange rate as resource revenues enter an economy, a phenomenon known as Dutch disease), volatility of revenues from the natural resource sector due to exposure to global commodity market swings, government mismanagement of resources, or weak, ineffectual, unstable or corrupt institutions (possibly due to the easily diverted actual or anticipated revenue stream from extractive activities). The idea that natural resources might be more an economic curse than a blessing began to emerge in the 1980s. In this light, the term resource curse thesis was first used by Richard Auty in 1993 to describe how countries rich in natural resources were unable to use that wealth to boost their economies and how, counter-intuitively, these countries had lower economic growth than countries without an abundance of natural resources.[1] Numerous studies, including one by Jeffrey Sachs and Andrew Warner, have shown a link between natural resource abundance and poor economic growth.[2] The ambitions of the people and the government conflict, due to the large amount of resources and money a country's government amass for their own luxuries rather than for the people. Thus natural resources serve as a curse for the people, who then have a lower relative standard of living. With the money earned there could be more focus on protecting the environment and to share the ambitions of the people to limit amount of resources taken and to protect the country's well being as a whole.


Looking forward to a great LD-style debate!
Today, I’ll be taking a negative stand on Resolved: Developing countries should prioritize environmental protection over resource extraction. I’ll jump right into my case and then refute the Aff. For reference, all definitions come from the Oxford Dictionary

V/C Framework:

Value: Sustainability – able to be maintained at a certain rate or level

Criterion: Utilitarianism – I accept Aff’s definition

Other Definitions:

Environmental: relating to the natural world and the impact of human activity on its condition

Protection: the action of protecting, or the state of being protected

Protect: keep safe from harm or injury

Regulate: control or maintain the rate or speed of (a machine or process) so that it operates properly


  1. 1. In weighing on this debate, it’s important to account for the difference between the acts of “protecting” and “regulating” (see definitions). The Aff, with the burden of upholding the resolution, is committed to the act of preventing environmental harm.
  2. 2. “Environmental protection” & “resource extraction” are naturally at odds given that “resource extraction” results in some amount of harm to the environment, whereas “environmental protection” is meant to prevent such harm.

Moving forward, I will demonstrate that achieving economic and environmental sustainability for the greater good can only be achieved through the prioritization of resource extraction under the guidance of environmental regulation.

C1: Economic development requires resources

Developing countries require access to natural resources and a focus on resource extraction. Most significantly, extracting natural resources available within a country’s territory can promote economic sovereignty. Past mistakes with resource extraction shouldn’t prevent these countries from reaping the benefits of their own natural resources. As Oxfam International (2009) explains:

“For those countries that depend on extractive industries, the income generated by this sector could be transformed into an opportunity if it is used properly. According to estimates by Intermón Oxfam (see Table 3, Annex 29), countries such as Angola, Chad, Nigeria, Ecuador, and Venezuela could use hydrocarbon exports to significantly increase their public spending per capita on education and health by 2015, investing 20 per cent of estimated tax revenues in education and 16 per cent in health… Indonesia and Norway are good examples of countries with significant revenue from natural resource extraction, where public spending is aligned coherently with long-term development goals.”

As we can see, long-term development quite often relies on the benefits reaped from extractive industries in developing nations. To prioritize environmental protection would mean to reduce or eliminate these benefits, and thus harm the greater good of the population.

C2: Reducing scarcity/environmental degradation requires economic growth/sustainability

Current research continues to find an interesting link between environmental impact and economic growth. For example, in terms of population, current findings indicate that levels of population slowly decrease with economic growth:

“Whenever long-term data exists, it shows the pollution decelerates over decades of economic growth. Even global aggregate data, which puts together different stages of development and different economic systems working in opposite directions, still shows marked deceleration of emissions.” Berstam (1990).

As well, reducing environmental degradation requires technological development, which in turn requires economic sustainability. According to Edward Barbier (2013), “new frontiers” of natural resources and adapted economic development are required. In other words, economic development is necessary to pursue alternative forms of energy and less damaging forms of production.

Overall, we can’t prioritize environmental protection without harming the very means of technological/economic development that improves the impact on our environment.

C3: The future of fighting environmental degradation requires integrated regulation

Current research into environmental management recognizes that operational and environmental management must be integrated (Srivastava, 2007). The idea of the “green supply chain management” (Beamon, 1999) calls for environmental regulation to occur within the operational management of a manufacturing supply chain. Whereas previous environmental protection measures have been segregated from manufacturing processes such as resource extraction, both industry and environmental professionals are realizing that the only true path to a better, more sustainable future is to integrate environmental regulation with supply chain processes.

Prioritizing environmental protection for developing nations would only sustain the status quo of separate environmental and industrial priorities. In order to maintain the necessary economic development for environmental regulation, integrated regulation is necessary over the preference for environmental protection.

Moving on to the Aff case…

V/C Clashes: my opponent offers a value of utilitarianism and no criterion. In this debate, it’s important to recognize that the definition of utilitarianism functions as a criterion for measuring morality, but doesn’t advance a distinct value. Whichever side brings a greater good to the majority will be the most moral. However, what this “greater good” is for the Aff remains undefined without a clear value like “security”, “autonomy”, or “utility”. Since I the value of “sustainability”, I argue that this is the only legitimate value in play for this debate, and the Aff’s stated value functions as a mechanism for upholding an unstated value.

C1: This contention merely sets the stage for an environment that faces an uncertain future. All three of my contentions demonstrate A. we can’t reduce the extraction/use of natural resources if we want continued economic growth for more environmentally friendly technologies & processes, and B. current environmental management thought is focusing on a future of integrated regulation over environmental protection.

C2: First, apply my C1 is this contention. Many of the issues the Aff cites come from poor conditions and political unrest. Any future development that could combat these issues will require the priority of resource extraction. Second, even this contention recognizes that environmental damage isn’t necessarily an inevitable outcome of resource extraction. Environmental regulation tied with better resource extraction processes/technologies offers a better future than attempting to protect the environment from harm.

C3: First, while risks with resource extraction always exist, it’s important to realize that a country’s ability to clean up and protect the environment is dependent on the country’s economic stability. Second, it’s important to recognize that the idea of the “resource curse” is still heavily contested in academic circles. For one, there is a noticeable lack of agreement on the exact cause of this curse (Ross, 1999). Most agree, however, that resource management is the blame (i.e. a sudden boon is resources creates a shortsightedness in policymakers) instead of resource extraction. Can policymakers do better? Of course, but prioritizing environmental protection won’t fix issues with resource management. Furthermore, in a literature review on “resource curse” research, Brunnschweiler & Bulte (2007) found that “resource abundance” is A. more often confused for “resource dependence” and B. positively affects growth and institutional quality. Finally, apply my C1 & C2 as reasoning for why access to any amount of natural resources is a necessary component for economic and environmental sustainability.

For these reasons, I urge for a vote in negation of the resolution.

Debate Round No. 1


Hello, Continuing. First I apologize but public health and utili were supposed to be switched as value public health and criterion utili.

Looking at the Negative case there is something we must see. The affirmatives burden is to protect the environment but not the extent of the complete abolition of resource extraction which is contentions refer too.

V/C Clash: My opponents value is sustainability but we can clearly see this value is upheld higher on the affirmative side and here's why. Sustainability is achieved by stabilizing a future for generations to come. If we do not make the necessary precautions in the present there will be no future environment to live in and therefore cannot be maintained and be a sustainable society. Both our criterions are the same but what we have to see is that on the affirmative side we see that some economic growth has to be sacrificed to benefit the greatest number of people. What we can see is that in order to benefit not only our own society, but all societies, we have to make the morally correct decision to protect the place we live in for the future.

C1: Minor sacrifices have to be made in order to protect our future, if the environment is not protected as it is there will be no environment to protect in the future. Natural resources, while are good for a stable economy, should be collected in a way that does not harm the future generations and the proper regulations need to be out to truly protect the environment as my contentions showed. My opponent talks about these past mistakes shouldn't prevent these countries to continue to extract these resources and this directly correlates with my first contention. In the Niger Delta a full 57 percent of its water supply is poisoned and is not drinkable from oil spills. Because of this, many citizens face dehydration and undrinkable water. The only way this can be fixed is by doing the exact opposite of what my opponent states, which is looking at these past mistakes and making the corrections necessary to protect all citizens and parties involved.

C2: In the second contention my opponent talks about that pollution decelerates over decades of economic growth but fundamentally, this is flawed. The amount of damage that is done from this lack of environmental protection is permanent and affects the future generations of humans whether or not it might decrease. The amount of decades before we truly protect the environment might be too late for the continuation of living in the uninhabitable environment. At the current rate of deforestation it is estimated all rainforests will be gone within 30 years; this is a clear irreversible of the affect on the environment that is devastating considering many of the plants needed for cancer treatment and other medical problems come from rain-forests. Until my opponent can bring empirical data that the decades until environmental protection is truly achieved will not already make that area uninhabitable or supporting the greater good of the people, his criterion, this contention completely falls.

C3: This contention talks about environmental regulation and supply chain processes working together. I fail to see how this supports the negative stance in today's debate. Environmental regulation instead of environmental protection but what my opponent fails to realize is that environmental regulation work together with environmental protection to ensure that the environmental protection is secured. We regulate certain acts, which involve resource extraction, to protect the environment therefore prioritizing environmental protection over resource extraction.

C1/R: First of all, there is no empirical data introduced that we can't reduce any extraction use for economic growth. Regulations to prioritize environmental protection may reduce some extraction for a country but does not destroy economic growth. One could argue the implication of natural disaster is a huge threat to economic growth as well, so to make the precautions necessary to protect the environment will indirectly keep economic growth going as well as securing a future as a country.

C2/R: My opponent states that any future development will combat these issues with the priority of resource extraction. This is flawed because the country is in fact prioritizing resource extraction to the point of violence and monopolization which is the exact problem in this situation. The contention shows that diamond mining does not have an inevitable harm to the country if the correct regulations are made to protect the environment. The contention never states that environmental damage is not an inevitable outcome of resource extraction.

C3:R: The world"s richest countries include Hong Kong, Japan,Singapore and Switzerland which do not owe their national wealth to nature and many others. What we can see from this is that protecting the environment is in fact not dependent on economic stability. The resource curse has been observed in many countries Sierra Leone has remained mired in poverty, ravaged by crippling internal warfare as local warlords have continued to fight for control over the diamond trade. Sierra Leone was the world"s poorest country in 1998 according to the World Bank (2000). A mismanagement of resources can be caused by a huge abundance.


Side note: no worries, I thought they might be flipped but didn't want to act on that assumption.

I'll begin by going down the flow (neg then aff) and then concluding with some voters.

Neg Case

V/C Clash: The affirmative has adopted my V/C pair, and now we're in a race to see which side better upholds this pair. The Aff argues that "sustainability is achieved by stabilizing a future for generations to come"... which won't happen unless present day precautions are made to the environment. Here the Aff purposes "sacrificing" some economic growth to achieve this, but as my C1 & C2 demonstrate, this economic growth is crucial to A. developing countries, and B. reducing environmental degradation. With the Aff case, we only have the hope of environmental stability, which as my C2 concludes, is unlikely without economic sustainability/growth and national resources to draw from. The Neg case is the only side that provides both economic and environmental sustainability, thus upholding the value of sustainability for the greatest number of people, both present and future.

Definitions & Observations: The Aff made no direct attacks on my definitions or observations, and therefore must be accepted in today's round. The Aff offers an analysis of his burden in protecting the environment, but not through the complete elimination of resource extraction. The Neg case never assumes that the "complete abolition of resource extraction" falls under the burden of the Aff. Instead, these observations clarify the conflict between "environmental protection" and "resource extraction" that is stated within the very wording of the resolution. Given that the Aff has accepted my definitions, he also must accept the distinction between "environmental protection" and "environmental regulation", or protecting the environment from harm vs. controlling the rate of that harm. Any sort of environmental protection will have an inverse effect on resource extraction, meaning economic sustainability is impacted in favor of environmental stability. As my contentions will demonstrate once I refute the Aff's attacks, only integrated environmental regulation offers a solution that can uphold both economic and environmental sustainability.

C1: The Aff is attempting to qualify his stance with "minor sacrifices", however he never provides in his case how the purposed environmental protection only involves "minor sacrifices". Second, recognizing that natural resources are good for a stable economy glosses over the original point of this contention: natural resources are necessary for a developing nation. The Aff never refutes this, but instead attempts to win on a cost/benefit analysis where the harms of resource extraction outweigh the necessary benefits that developing countries rely on. Apply my C2 here and recognize that the only way to have any hope for both economic and environmental sustainability is through the technological development/process reform that requires natural resources. Short of stopping resource extraction altogether, better technologies and processes will never be possible if a country doesn't have the economic sustainability required for future development.

C2: The Aff's first attack is beyond the scope of this debate. We're both in agreement that "damage done can't be undone", even if we completely eliminate resource extraction. What we're focused on is decreasing future damage, which as the evidence present in this contention highlights, is achieved through continued economic growth. Deforestation can be managed through integrated regulation (which is one of the reasons "Green Supply Chain Management" is being developed/implemented in the first place). Finally, I argue that since the Aff is burdened with upholding environmental protection, empirical data is required to demonstrate that environmental protection will completely stop this future damage before any counter evidence can be introduced. Since the only logical way this could be achieved is the complete elimination of resource extraction, which he isn't committed to, it's unlikely that the Aff's stance can provide the type of damage reduction he's wanting me to offer data for.

C3: This contention is the keystone of my case: it demonstrates that integrated regulation is preferable to pure environmental protection in order to achieve both economic and environmental sustainability. What the Aff fails to realize is that the evidence I cite in this contention states that environmental protection bodies have rarely directly worked with industrial regulation agencies in the past. This research shows that environmental regulation from within the industry is a better course of action. See my definitions and observations. "Environmental protection" vs. "environmental regulation" denotes as difference between preventing harm and regulating harm. The type of cooperation the Aff claims simply hasn't existed in the past according in the evidence. Instead, this contention shows how integrated regulation vs separate environmental protection is key to future economic/environmental sustainability.

Aff Case

C1: The evidence present in my C1 clearly demonstrates the link between extractive industries and economic growth for developing countries. The Aff argues that no direct empirical data is introduced that proves reducing resource extraction would damage economic growth, but A. no evidence is provided by the Aff to argue the opposite, and B. examples such as Indonesia and Norway clearly link "significant revenue" to natural resource extraction... take away the cause, and naturally you harm the effect. For natural disasters: yes this implication is a huge threat, one that many countries face just due to location. For most countries, having cities close to fault lines, oceans, or volcanos are more economically beneficial which outweigh the risks. The same can be argued here. Finally, any attempt to reduce the possibility of disaster caused by resource extraction must occur through an integrated approach outlined in my case.

C2: The Aff is attempting to make a simplistic link between resource extraction and political unrest that we see in many developing African nations. First, recall that the only evidence that the Aff provides relates to the atrocities seen in these conflicts. The Aff cites "many experts" without any direct citation, and more importantly, offers no evidence to support this simplistic link. Second, as we see in my C3, the use of resources is quite often a complex issue for policymakers and citizens alike. Simply reducing the resources that a nation relies on to stay afloat won't solve the greater political issues, and will worsen any economic issues that also add fuel to the fire. Finally, the Aff's claim that "diamond mining does not have an inevitable harm to the country..." contradicts what is stated in his contention, "But damage to the environment is not the inevitable result of diamond mining". Hence, resource extraction (represented here by diamond mining) doesn't automatically have an inevitable harm to the environment.

C3: I'm not sure if we're supposed to take the Aff's word on his "richest countries" argument, but regardless, this argument ignores trade relationships with countries that do derive economic wealth from natural resources. In a globalized world, you can't escape the necessity for natural resources. More importantly, the Aff is attempting is argue against my evidence presented in my original attack of this contention. The "resource curse" is a heavily contested idea in academic circles: there's no conclusive agreement that "resource abundance" is a direct cause, and the term is often confused with "resource dependence". Finally, the research provided by Brunnschweiler & Bulte (2007) found that actual resource abundance has a positive effect on economic and institutional quality. This is important to realize because, once again, the simplistic link between resource extraction and political unrest the Aff is attempting to uphold isn't supported by current research on the topic.

Voting Issues

Summarizing, we have to see that the Neg completely upholds the only V/C pair in play:

1. V/C Acceptance - The value of Sustainability & the criterion of Utilitarianism have been the only V/C discussed in this round, and therefore which ever side better upholds this pair ought to win the judge's vote.

2. "Environmental Protection" vs. "Environmental Regulation" Distinction - with my definitions & observations dropped, this distinction must be upheld. Furthermore, the impact of this distinction (see my final voting issue) must be recognized.

3. Resource Necessity - Recognize that through my C1 & C2 I clearly demonstrate the necessity for natural resource extraction when it comes to economic growth/sustainability for developing countries, and to future environmental sustainability. I've established that a "better tomorrow" is possible through regulation, but not if we reduce access to these resources in the interest of "preventing harm" to the environment.

4. Environmental Sustainability + Economic Sustainability for the Greater Good - Connect all these dots and see that the Neg is the only side that upholds a just solution through the morality of Utilitarianism. The impact of the "protection vs regulation" distinction I state above is simple: only environmental regulation through integrated regulation can possibly promote complete sustainability. Environmental protection inversely affects resource extraction, and thus economic sustainability. Vote Aff, and you only get less resources and less development that can possibly combat environmental degradation, helping no one. Vote Neg, and you get economic growth/sustainability, integrated regulation, and better technologies/processes that will continue to reduce environmental degradation, thus providing complete sustainability for the majority.

Thank you to my opponent for a great LD debate! Good luck in the real deal this/next month.
Debate Round No. 2
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by whiteflame 4 years ago
The major reason for my decision is that Con has made the best arguments for long term environmental protection, as Pro seems to concede. This is a problem. I think many of the concerns Pro states for doing environmental harm today hold water, but they're not well-supported, nor does he acknowledge that upholding such regulations are going to be impossible for many nations without doing major harm to their economy. Pro's point on rainforests is the best response here, but the cancer and disease treatment benefits are unsupported. There are other arguments for keeping the rainforests, but I cannot provide them.

In many cases, I think this debate ignored the major issues involved in environmental protection. Monopolization, a major harm in Pro's arguments, happens in an environmental protection-focused world. The harms of oil companies taking advantage of these countries also happens - if they remain economically destitute, as they will for longer under Pro's mentality, they will still be vulnerable to the excesses of these industries. Even if they regulate their own actions, they will simply have no choice but to keep lax regulations on external companies.

Con's arguments are mostly solid, though I feel he could have done more with his C1. Every developed country started out with major resource extractions. You might as well tell these nations that they can't subsistence farm - this essentially tells them hypocritically that they can't do what every nation they aspire to be like did. It was fine for us then, but now that it's today, they have a duty to contribute rather than focus on feeding their people and growing their economies.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by whiteflame 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Good debate. Reasons given in comment.