The Instigator
lannan13
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
Ore_Ele
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Lannan13's 300th Debate: Resolved: The United States Federal Government should mine asteroids.

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Post Voting Period
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after 2 votes the winner is...
It's a Tie!
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/22/2014 Category: Science
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,194 times Debate No: 67450
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (13)
Votes (2)

 

lannan13

Pro

I would like to thank Ore_Ele for accepting this debate and having this rematch of my 3rd debate on this site 3 years ago on the same topic. Now I'll lay down a few rules and such before we begin our debate.

Rules
First Round is acceptance and definitions.
Second Round is for Contentions, no rebuttles.
Third Round is for Rebuttles.
Forth Round is for Rebuttles and Conclusions. (No new arguments)
No semantics

Should- Used to express obligation or duty (http://www.thefreedictionary.com...)
Mine- a pit or tunnel from which minerals (such as coal, gold, diamonds, etc.) are taken (http://www.merriam-webster.com...)
Asteroids- any of the small rocky celestial bodies found especially between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter (http://www.merriam-webster.com...)

Ore_Ele

Con

I accept and am honored to be able to pop the 300th cherry for Lannan.

Since the definition of "small" and "rocky" can be subjective, I believe a clarification for Asteroids is in order. It is also distinguished from Planets, Moons, Dwarf Planets, and Comets.

Here is the IAU distinguishing [1][2] since it established definitions in the mid 2000's.

[1] http://www.differencebetween.info...;
[2] http://www.iau.org...;
Debate Round No. 1
lannan13

Pro

Contention 1: Funding

The US governmental funding for asteroid mining is key, the International Space Study has found that with the current technology the US federal government must fund asteroid mining as they have found that the original investment period for the ROI takes to long for investors to see benefits. Thus the Private sector would lose interests. (https://isulibrary.isunet.edu... ) Also at this stage in the game it is crucial that the US federal government funds asteroid mining, because throughout history the Federal government has funded new projects in the early stage in order to get private companies and competition against each other's going. Just look at the Panama Canal. The US will be able to get an early advantage over our foreign competitors in technology, raw materials, and new science personal. (http://arxiv.org...) We all know that the technology exists, but all we need now is a large sum of government funds to get the program off the ground. (http://www.scienceclarified.com...)

The Federal Government needs to be involved in the early stages of new projects to help get them going and to show that doing such a project is worth it. I turn to my example of the Rail Roads and the Panama Canal the Federal Government passed a bill in 1862 to help rail roads get a huge kick start and helped them get involved. (http://www.ourdocuments.gov...) This lead to the many rail roads popping up everywhere and after the government started breaking up monopolies they helped make riding the Rail affordable. As for the Panama Canal, it was a gold mine. it meant cheaper shipping and receiving goods faster. The thing was that no one wanted to do it due to the malaria in the region (just ask the French) and because the Federal Government stepped in there the project got completed and good became cheaper. (http://www.infoplease.com...)

Private companies do not want to chance it yet, because private investors don't want to wait too long as they think that they might not see a return on investments. In order to compensate the time that it takes. (https://isulibrary.isunet.edu... ) So we can see that the United States Federal Government must kick-off the project here. NASA is a research and development organization so their production of the technology and oversite is very important as they are our nation's space administration and this is their field of expertise.

Contention 2: Why we need it

95% of the world's REM (Rare Earth Metals) supply belongs to China. China is starting to crack down on REM exports to the US leading to almost chaos. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk...) You may think no big deal, but if it goes any further it will lead to US crackdown on China and with the US trying to put leverage on the US China will most likely do the same leading to an economic down of the US and then China then the world. Why is this you may ask? It is the fact that the US is entirely reliant on China and the fact that China is also too reliant on the US if one falls they both do. We currently use Rare Earth Elements to make electronics from the cell phone you have and your TV to military satellites. We get a lot of our Green technology from them to like pollution controls, LED light bulbs, and Hybrid cars. (http://science.howstuffworks.com...)

Prices of REMs have increased by well over 100%. China, who owns 95% of the world's REMs supply has begun to clamp down on the exports due to new environmental regulations and their new crack downs on illegal mining laws. There will be a 48% increase of demand of REMs by next year and the shortages of some of these key metals are not helping the prices. (http://www.business-standard.com...) Others show demands are expected to rise by 60% by next year due to increased demands in electronics and hybrid cars. China is shockingly going to start seeing some supply shortages themselves and will either have no choice to hike prices or stop exporting all-in-all. ( http://www.globemetalsandmining.com.au...)

Here's a fun fact of the day, did you know that the diamond mined in South Africa is practically worthless. The only reason that it is worth so much is that South Africa withholds a lot of their diamonds from the global market to increase their value. Much like OPEC and how much oil that they decide to export a year. This is what the US would do. The US would release small amounts onto the Global Market to create a profit and drive down US national debt. The US would keep the rest in the US where they would be made into different things or just stay in warehouses like South African Diamonds. Remind you that once we start this project that we will increase jobs by the thousands and create an industry worth over a trillion dollars which beats the US marine time industry. (http://www.space.com...) and (http://blog.chron.com...)


Contention 3: China War

We all know that REM are what we use in batteries, cell phones, and even military technology. So it is key that the wealth gets spread around. Since China is hoarding them the US could try to force China to give them up. This is very likely to happen since nation's in the past of done this type of thing. Look at Japan when they attack the US due to the US oil embargo on them. This will lead to a possible WW3 and this scenario is likely to happen because once you run out of REMs then you're out. (http://www.roitov.com...) This is a war that will hurt many nation and has a potential to go nuclear and the world will likely end due to this episode. (“The Asian Ascent: Opportunity for Peace or Precondition for War?,” International Studies Perspectives, Volume 7, Issue 1, Pages 36-42)Contention 3: Economic pay back!It's $195 billion per asteroid! (http://www.space.com...) Think about the trade of it'll take $2.7 billion to mine while the profit is $195 billion. With this kind of profit the US will be able to finally start to pay off it's debts which will increase trade interest with the US from other nations.

China has indeed stopped exporting REMs to Japan ("The new resource wars: what if china stops exporting rare elements?") Now imagine if China did that to the US. This would cause an inevitable resource war with China since, as I stated already, China owns almost all of the world's REMs. This would be terrible on the Global Market as two Trade Titans have a trade war over REMS. International Relations experts have warned against this stating that it would no doubtfully cause a War. We do not need to be reminded of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff.

Contention 4: US Deficit

The value of the US dollar is plummeting as the the US debt increases. (http://useconomy.about.com...) With the asteroid mining program we will be able to pay off our debt. How's that you may ask? It's very simple, the average asteroid holds over $100 billion in REMs. (http://lightyears.blogs.cnn.com...) When we subtract the cost of $2.6 billion to mine it, lets round it up to $10 billion for transportation and refining the ore We can see that we can make a $90 billion profit from an average asteroid. US debt will be gone soon enough as the US will become the OPEC of Rare Earth Metals.

Ore_Ele

Con

I would like to thank my opponent for their round. Let us jump right into this. I will address all of my opponent's contention, but in a different order.

I first want to address the issues here on Earth that were brought up.

==China and REMs on Earth==

My opponent claims that 95% of the world's REM belong to China. This is inaccurate and completely misleading. China currently produces 95% of our REM, but they only hold 23% of the current proven reserves [1]. China merely cornered the market by undermining the price in the 1990's. If they stop providing REMs, we can just open back up our current mines for significantly less than mining from asteroids. We are already looking to open some back up [2][3]. The US alone has about 13 million tons of REM [4], this is currently enough to supply us for over 1,000 years [4].

Another key source on Earth is actually the other way from space, to the bottom of the ocean [5][6]. The estimates on how much is there are still vague, but all estimates put it around or above the 110 million tonnes on the surface, giving us thousands of years of supply.

And, while my opponent points out that China cut exporting to Japan and imposed other restrictions in early 2012, they were forced to drop those that same year, since having the REMs but not able to use them all was pointless to them [7]

==Money in Space==

The money to be made in Asteroids from space is grossly exagerated. From my opponent's own source [8]

"'Deep Space Industries is being far too optimistic about this particular rock,' Michael Busch, of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, told SPACE.com via email.

'Nick Moskovitz at MIT has obtained an IR spectrum of DA14, and it is an L-class object,' he added. 'That means a stony composition, made of iron-magnesium-silicates, and minimal water and accessable metal content. It also is not obvious how much the value of water and metal in Earth orbit would decrease with an increased supply.'"

A significant amount of the money is estimated to be in water. Regarding the $195 billion asteroid that my opponent referenced (and that the quote comes from), $65 billion is for water. This is inflated on two scales to make it seem more profitable than it is. It is based on the number that it costs $20,000 per liter to send water to the ISS. First, the Falcon 9 can take 13,150 liters of water to the ISS for $61.2 million [9], or only $4,650 per liter, over 75% less than my opponent's claims.

The other issue is that the ISS only consumes about 1,270 liters of water a year[10][11] (you have to use both sources, [10] shows that it would be 40,000 lbs or 18,200 liters per year if it wasn't for the recycling and [11] shows that it is currently at 93% efficent at recycling the water). This particular asteroid has 3.25 million liters (estimated) of water in it. As you can see, there is no demand, at that price point, for that much water. Talking about the value of the water is like talking about the value of an extremely rare coin after finding millions of them in a warehouse and not adjusting the value.

My opponent talks about the cost to retrieve the elements. He states that it is $2.7 billion (then later $2.6 billion), but I cannot find that located in any of his sources.

==Alternative Profits in Space==

Alternatively, the Moon is much easier to find, get to, and get back from. Because it is tidally locked with Earth, the same side of the Moon always faces us, the return trip will not requiring waiting for a particular time of the month. The Moon contains a treasure trove of material, from metals like Titanium [12] to nobel gases like He3 [13]. But, most importantly, it has a ton of KREEP (which includes REMs) [14][15].

If water is still a concern, Ceres (a dwarf planet in the asteroid belt, making up over 1/3 of the mass of the entire belt) has more water on its surface than the entire planet of Earth [16], and likely, and unimaginable amount of REM under the ice crust.

These points address all that my opponent has brought up and more. I will now pass it back to him.

Thank you,

[1] http://www.bbc.com...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://www.gwmg.ca...;
[4] http://www.usgs.gov...;
[5] http://www.mining.com...;
[6] http://www.nature.com...;
[7] http://www.theregister.co.uk...
[8] http://www.space.com...;
[9] http://en.wikipedia.org...;
[10] http://science.nasa.gov...;
[11] http://www.nasa.gov...;
[12] http://www.space.com...;
[13] http://news.discovery.com...;
[14] http://rbth.com...;
[15] http://www.planetary.org...;
[16] http://www.space.com...;
Debate Round No. 2
lannan13

Pro

We agreed to redo this debate due to my opponent's Rule breaking.

Please see comments for proof.
Ore_Ele

Con

New debate can be found here

http://www.debate.org...
Debate Round No. 3
lannan13

Pro

Please leave this debate a tie as we are redoing the debate.
Ore_Ele

Con


Once again, here is the new debate.

http://www.debate.org...;
Debate Round No. 4
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by lannan13 2 years ago
lannan13
Sure, I'll make it up after I finish my debate with 9spaces.
Posted by Ore_Ele 2 years ago
Ore_Ele
Can you send me the new challenge. We can link to it in each round so that everyone can see where the new debate is.
Posted by Ore_Ele 2 years ago
Ore_Ele
Yeah
Posted by lannan13 2 years ago
lannan13
Sure thing ORe_Ele we'll just do a redo. You up for that?
Posted by Ore_Ele 2 years ago
Ore_Ele
Well, this is one reason why you don't do your arguments at 1 am while drinking. Anyway, I'll forfeit out. If you want to create a new debate, we can do this again.
Posted by Ore_Ele 2 years ago
Ore_Ele
son-of-a-bitch!
Posted by lannan13 2 years ago
lannan13
Uh, Ore_Ele, the rules state that there's no rebuttles in the 2nd Round.
Posted by lannan13 2 years ago
lannan13
Wow, such harsh words. I agree with Ore_Ele that's it's more of a historical thing that though I may fall again. It'll show the massive amount of change and progress that I've made on the site.
Posted by Ore_Ele 2 years ago
Ore_Ele
It is more for the historical value. This was his 3rd debate, it only makes sense that it would also be his 300th debate (both against me). Anyway, I am very rusty, so nothing is free.
Posted by 9spaceking 2 years ago
9spaceking
this again?? Well I'm glad to see Ore gain another free victory.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by BLAHthedebator 2 years ago
BLAHthedebator
lannan13Ore_EleTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Agreed tie.
Vote Placed by 9spaceking 2 years ago
9spaceking
lannan13Ore_EleTied
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Reasons for voting decision: agreed tie