Debate Rounds (5)
Some time ago I was discussing nuclear power and noted that I am not a big fan of it. Think offered to debate me on this topic in responses to my comments, so, here we are. We will be using the current LD topic for this debate. Please note that the topic is written such that Pro is arguing against nuclear power rather than for nuclear power. Thus, I am taking a stance against nuclear power.
I have nominated the following judges, some at the suggestion of Think, for this debate: Danielle, Max, Lannan, Peep, Tej, Hayd, and Whiteflame. Should Think object to any of these voters, or should he wish to add voters, he should let me know before he accepts. Judges are, of course, free to accept or decline their nominations as they choose. The voting period is 10 days. Furthermore, Think is strictly prohibited from posting his acceptance in R1 before Friday, the 21st of October. He must accept the challenge by the 20th of October. If he fails to accept on time or if he posts his arguments early, he automatically loses the debate.
Countries ought to prohibit the production of nuclear power.
Countries - areas of land controlled by a sovereign government
Ought - implies moral desirability
Prohibit - to forbid (ban)
Production - the creation of utility, specifically, the making of goods available for use
Nuclear Power - electric or motive power generated by a nuclear reactor
1. No forfeits
2. Citations must be provided in the text of the debate
3. No new arguments in the final speeches
4. Observe good sportsmanship and maintain a civil and decorous atmosphere
5. No trolling
6. No "kritiks" of the topic (challenging assumptions in the resolution)
7. My opponent accepts all definitions and waives his/her right to add resolutional definitions
8. For all undefined terms, individuals should use commonplace understandings that fit within the logical context of the resolution and this debate (unless otherwise specified in R1)
9. The BOP is evenly shared
10. The first round is for acceptance only
11. Rebuttals of new points raised in an adversary's immediately preceding speech may be permissible at the judges' discretion even in the final round (debaters may debate their appropriateness)
12. Violation of any of these rules, or of any of the R1 set-up, merits a loss
R2. Pro's Case; Con's Case
R3. Pro generic Rebuttal; Con generic Rebuttal
R4. Pro generic Rebuttal; Con generic Rebuttal
R5. Pro generic Rebuttal and Crystallization; Con generic Rebuttal and Crystallization
...to Think for this debate. I'm looking forward to a fun dialogue.
I would like to begin by thanking bsh1 for issuing this challenge to me. I have read his past debates and I am looking forward to an excellent exchange.
As per the rules, I accepted this debate on 10/19 and it is now 10/21 at 12 AM my time.
Different responsibilities yield different moral calculations. A lawyer's moral duty to his client, requires him to uphold the client's confidentiality even if that client were to confess to a crime. If that client confessed to someone who did not have this duty of confidentiality to him, however, it would not be wrong of this third party to report the confession to the police. A parent, in virtue of their special relationship to their child, has moral responsibilities to their child that they do not have for other children. It seems wrong for a parent who had the time to skip their child's graduation or to fail to help their child with homework. It would not be wrong, however, for a parent do abstain from attending the graduation of a random child or to not help that random child with homework. In a similar vein to these cases, governments have special duties of care to their own citizens, both because citizens contribute to their societies in unique ways (they pay taxes, they vote, they serve on juries, etc), which entails reciprocal obligations from the state to pay citizens back for these contributions, but also because of the more ephemeral sociocultural and moral connections that people share with their countries. It is important also to note that, in each of these three cases, failing to recognize the validity of these special obligations is highly problematic. Without attorney client privilege, the right to due process would be infringed; if parents had equal obligations to all children, (a) parents could never devote sufficient time to their own child and (b) virtually all parents living today would be immoral by that standard, which is obviously preposterous; and, if government's had equal obligations to all people, (a) they could never devote sufficient resources to their own citizens and (b) governments would not be repaying citizens for the services they contributed to and contracted for. Therefore, the standard for this debate is simple: countries ought to do what is in the best interests of their citizens. If prohibiting nuclear power is in the best interest of the citizens, then you ought to vote Pro.
II. Environmental Damage
"The destruction of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant...resulted in massive radioactive contamination of the Japanese mainland...Some 4,500 square miles--an area almost the size of Connecticut--was found to have radiation levels that exceeded Japan's allowable exposure rate...Cesium-137...will maintain ownership of the exclusion zone for centuries."  Chernobyl was similarly catastrophic. For example, "[b]ecause radioactive caesium is continuously taken up and passed on by organisms in forest ecosystems, the animals and vegetation in affected forests and mountains are particularly contaminated. Forest food products such as mushrooms, berries and game contain the highest recorded levels of caesium-137." 
B. Uranium Mining
"To produce the 25 tons or so of uranium fuel needed to keep your average reactor going for a year entails the extraction of half a million tons of waste rock and over 100,000 tons of mill tailings. These are toxic for hundreds of thousands of years...Contamination of local water supplies around uranium mines and processing plants has been documented in Brazil, Colorado, Texas, Australia, Namibia and many other sites...These tailings contain uranium, thorium, radium, polonium, and emit radon-222." 
III. Health Risks
"Once a large amount of radioactive cesium enters an ecosystem, it quickly becomes ubiquitous, contaminating water, soil, plants and animals. It has been detected in a large range of Japanese foodstuffs, including spinach, tea leaves, milk, beef, and freshwater fish up to 200 miles from Fukushima...Routine ingestion of foods contaminated with so-called 'low levels' of radioactive cesium has been shown to lead to its bioaccumulation in the heart and" other organs. "This process occurs much faster in children than in adults."  The evidence I cited earlier regarding Chernobyl also presents a case for how the disaster there may have poisoned certain foodstuffs for years to come.
"Damage caused by the Chernobyl disaster is estimated at some $235 billion...2 million people...suffered from its consequences" and 1.3 million still live in contaminated areas. "Medical effects of the disaster saw a dramatic growth of cancer...Among children, thyroid cancer incidence went [up] 40 times since the explosion, [and was up] 2.5 to 7 times among adults." 
B. Uranium Mining
"Uranium miners experience higher rates of lung cancer, tuberculosis and other respiratory diseases. The production of 1,000 tons of uranium fuel generates approximately 100,000 tons of radioactive tailings and nearly one million gallons of liquid waste containing heavy metals and arsenic in addition to radioactivity. These uranium tailings have contaminated rivers and lakes." 
C . Proximity and Plant Safety
"Even when reactors operate normally, statistically significant increases in infant and fetal mortality near US reactors, in childhood leukemia near German reactors, and in cancer near UK reactors, suggest that (even without any accidents) those living near reactors could face higher health risks." 
"More than 75 percent of the nation's nuclear plants have reported a radioactive leak in their lifetimes...They've also suffered explosions, fires and corrosion."  "Leaks from at least 37 of those facilities contained concentrations exceeding the federal drinking water standard--sometimes at hundreds of times the limit...[R]egulators...have weakened safety standards for decades to keep the nation's commercial nuclear reactors operating within the rules."  The problems with regulators are unlikely to abate if nuclear power continues to be used; namely because regulators may feel pressure from governments to keep the plants up-and-running, particularly if the governments have not invested in alternative sources of energy.
The presence of nuclear plants could tempt irresponsible countries or those facing external threats to use the plants to produce weapons-grade material. The more nuclear weapons, the greater the risk that one would be accidentally launched, stolen, or fired, leading to a less safe world situation. Precedent for this exists: "Expanded use of nuclear power would increase the risk that commercial nuclear technology will be used to construct clandestine weapons facilities, as was done by Pakistan." 
"Nuclear power plants may be vulnerable to cyber attacks, which might...lead to substantial releases of radioactive material with consequent loss of lives, radiation sickness and psycho-trauma, extensive property destruction and economic upheaval."  Precedent for this kind of attack also exists. The US-Israeli Stuxnet Virus, for example, was used against Iran, causing "roughly a fifth of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges" to "spin out of control."  This kind of threat is particularly dangerous, because it could come from a lone wolf or terror group, but also from a highly sophisticated state actor, as was the case in Stuxnet.
In 2007, gunmen managed to gain access to the control room of South Africa's Pelindaba Nuclear Plant--an attack so well executed many felt it had insider assistance.  In 2002, al-Qaeda was found to have diagrams of American nuclear power plants.  In 2016, the Brussels bombers appeared to have tailed the head of Belgium's nuclear program in the hopes of abducting him and using him to gain access to a nuclear facility.  Terrorists have looked into strikes on nuclear reactors, and it may only be a matter of time before an attack occurs.
Terrorist attacks could involve triggering a meltdown at a power plant or stealing radioactive material from a plant, a fuel reprocessing facility, on route to a disposal location. Terrorists could steal material for a bomb, trigger a meltdown, aerosolize and disperse nuclear material, or use nuclear material to contaminate soil or water. "Unlike accidents, which occur at random, terrorists carefully choose the site of their attacks...choosing weather conditions that would maximize the impacts on an attack." The effects of an attack on the spent fuel "at a pressurized water reactor [could] be 54,000 to 143,000 extra cancer deaths; 2,000 to 7,000 square kilometers of agricultural land condemned; and economic costs of $117 to $556 billion from evacuation." Such an attack could release up to 17.5x more cesium than Chernobyl. 
Nuclear plants have been targeted in military conflicts.  Plants put nearby civilians in conflict zones in danger from attacks and meltdowns.
Advanced nuclear power costs more per megawatt hour than a variety of fossil fuels as well as various clean energy sources like geothermal, hydroelectric, and wind.  "The [UK's] energy department shows that it expects onshore wind power and large-scale solar to cost around £50-75 per megawatt hour...in 2025. New nuclear is anticipated to be around £85-125 per MWh" by that time."  As green tech develops, we can also expect innovations and greater competition to drive down prices further.
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Because nuclear power is dangerous and costly, it ought to be prohibited. Please Vote Pro!
Thanks, bsh1! I apologize in advance for my delay. I have been extremely busy over this past weekend and I like to put a lot of time and effort into researching and writing my arguments.
I mostly agree with my opponent's framework. Countries should do what is best for their people and for their citizens, thus, my burden and goal is to prove that prohibiting nuclear power would be a net harm to citizens, and I will be showing the net-positives of nuclear power.
II. Scientific Consensus
Nuclear power is inherently a scientific issue. When I look at science issues, the first place I go is to journals and to experts in the particular field in question. Although a scientific consensus does not in of itself prove the benefits of nuclear power, understanding the scientific consensus helps us to understand where the scientific evidence actually leads. The science is clear not because of the consensus, but rather a consensus exists because the evidence is clear.
In 2015, Pew Research took a poll of scientists that represented the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), one of the largest bodies of scientists in the United States. Their poll found that 65% of AAAS scientists favor building more nuclear power plants. By contrast, only 35% of AAAS scientists support expanding offshore drilling .
Nuclear power is one of the most reliable energy sources today. Unlike most alternative forms of energy which require natural gas and traditional sources of energy to back it up (more on this later), nuclear power does not. Furthermore, nuclear energy by far has the highest average capacity as can be seen in this chart .
Nuclear Matters notes: "Nuclear power is the most efficient and reliable source of large-scale, around-the-clock electricity. Nuclear energy plants maintain a national average reliability between 85 and 90 percent, with many power plants routinely operating at 93 to 95 percent capacity over extended periods." Furthermore, "High reliability and dependability mean that electricity is available on the grid whenever needed, all the time.This is particularly important during periods of extreme heat or cold." 
A. Global Warming
Climate change is undoubtedly one of the greatest environmental threats we face today. Bruno Comby notes:
"If we want to be serious about climate change and the end of oil, we must promote themore efficient use of energy, we must use renewable energies – wind and solar –wherever possible, and adopt a more sustainable life style. But this will not be nearlyenough to slow the accumulation of atmospheric CO2, and satisfy the needs of ourindustrial civilization and the aspirations of the developing nations. Nuclear powershould be deployed rapidly to replace coal, oil and gas in the industrial countries, andeventually in developing countries" This is because "Nuclear energy produces almost no carbon dioxide, and no sulfur dioxide ornitrogen oxides whatsoever. These gases are produced in vast quantities when fossilfuels are burned." 
Furthermore, climateologist James Hansen noted: "Nuclear, especially next-generation nuclear, has tremendous potential to be part of the solution to climate change. The dangers of fossil fuels are staring us in the face. So for us to say we won't use all the tools [such as nuclear energy] to solve the problem is crazy." 
As I mentioned earlier, one of the problems with other alternative energy methods is that they all rely on fossil fuel and natural gas as a backup.  Furthermore, other methods are unable to supply the large amounts of energy that we consume each year. A 2014 paper published in Sustainable Materials and Technology concludes :
"Renewable energy sources (primarily wind and solar) will not be able to supply the needed large quantities of energy sustainably, economically and reliably. In addition, renewable energy sources with fossil-fired backup power will in many cases not contribute towards reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions. Distorting the market with subsidies and by legislation to attract intermittent energy technologies into applications for which they are not well suited is economically wasteful. Also, replacing stand-alone coal-fired stations with stand-alone gas-fired stations will, in many cases, not result in a reduction in the rate of emission of greenhouse gases due to (often poorly quantified) problems of methane leakage. Countries that depend on imported natural gas should be aware that they carry full responsibility for their part of the global consequences due to atmospheric leakage of methane associated with their part of the imported gas, including the leakage taking place outside their borders."
In conclusion, a total ban on nuclear powe all at once would not be a wise move.
I'll go into more detail in the next round as this was also one of pro's contentions. Nuclear energy is one of the most affordable sources of power we have today. There is little fluctuation in the production cost, is one of the lowest-cost producer of baseload electricity, and among the most efficent sources of energy in the US.  The following chart gives a nice visual representation of the cost.
(Image from: http://tinyurl.com...)
In conclusion, we ought to embrace, not prohibit, nuclear power. Nuclear power is clean, affordable, reliable, and can help combat climate change. Please vote con!
**Note: Please wait a day or so before posting your rebuttals.**
Thanks again, Think.
I. Scientific Consensus
This is is an ad populum fallacy. Just because most people believe X to be true does not mean that X is actually true. At one point in time, most scientists believed that the Earth was the center of the universe, that humors were the causes of disease, that light was conveyed by a luminferous ether, and that the steady state theory explained the evolution of the universe. [18, 19] Each of these examples, which span from the 6th century to the mid-20th century, has been debunked over the years, despite enjoying temporary preeminence in the scientific community. In other words, the fact that most scientists believe X is not evidence for X, it is just evidence for the fact that most scientists believe X.
Even if you don't buy that argument, Con only samples scientists from a single organization. Other groups, like Physicians for Social Responsibility, an arm of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and which I've cited already in this debate, does not support nuclear power.
A. Nuclear power will become Less Reliable with GW
Some damaging effects of climate change are inevitable.  Rising sea levels, changing weather patterns, and hotter temperatures will undermine the safety and functionality of nuclear plants. Heat waves can force reactors to shut down so that they don't overheat. This has already happened: "During the 2006 heat wave, reactors in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Minnesota, as well as in France, Spain and Germany, were impacted. The European heat wave in the summer of 2003 caused cooling problems at French reactors that forced engineers to tell the government that they could no longer guarantee the safety of the country's 58 nuclear power reactors."  Extreme weather events, which will likely become more frequent may also increase the risks of meltdowns; if Fukushima could be caused by a tsunami, why could a super-typhoon not duplicate that disaster somewhere else? Thus, functionality will decrease and meltdown risks will increase in the future.
B. Renewables Won't need Fossil Fuel Back-ups
This is true for three reasons:
1. The Law of Large Numbers. LLN is "a probability theorem, which states that the aggregate result of a large number of uncertain processes becomes more predictable as the total number of processes increases." Kind of like how sea turtles coordinate their egg-laying and -hatching so that so many cute baby turtles will be born at once that some are bound to survive, having many clean energy plants ensures that some will always be running so you don't need fossil fuel back-ups. If it is cloudy in Sacramento so that the solar panels can't work, it might be sunny in L.A., so their solar panels can help supply both cities. Diversification is also useful, in that even if the solar panels in Sacramento aren't able to work, the wind turbines may be able to. Consider: "a study...found that an additional 15,000 megawatts of installed wind energy only requires an additional 18 megawatts of...reserve capacity to maintain the stability of the grid." 
2. Better Batteries Solve. As battery storage capacity improves, renewables can store extra energy they produce on good days to compensate for bad days, thus ending the need for back-ups. Batteries are getting better now--recently, researchers found a way to increase battery efficiency by 20% and to decrease the costs by 25%. 
3. Some renewables are immune to intermittency. Geothermal and Hydropower energy draw from constant, predictable sources of energy, and are thus reliable. [23, 24] Hydro and geothermal can therefore be used as back-ups (instead of fossil fuels) to sources like solar. Hydro is also remarkably efficient--it's 50% cheaper than nuclear, can convert 90% of available energy into electricity, and some dams could conceivably produce 2,000+ MW of energy. [38, 39]
A. Nuclear Cannot be Deployed in Time
To stop seriously catastrophic climate change/global warming (GW), emissions must fall drastically by 2050. Nuclear cannot be scaled up in time to reduce emission by 60-80% by 2050. Therefore, nuclear power cannot stop GW.
1. 2050 danger threshold. If the earth's temperature rises between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius, 20-30% of the world's animals and plants could vanish.  This would essentially be a mass extinction. Increasing temperatures could cause sea levels to rise such that island nations like the Maldives or Marshall Islands or coastal cities like Venice and Bangkok could become entirely submerged; it could also cause crop yields to decrease, resulting in food shortages. [26, 27] In order to stabilize temperatures before 2050, CO2 emissions will have to fall 60-80% by that time. 
2. Nuclear cannot be scaled up in time to accomplish 60-80% reduction. Scientists estimate that 115 reactors would need to be constructed per year to entirely decarbonise by 2050.  There is no precedent which would indicate that this is feasible. In France and Sweden, which both had periods of "rapid" nuclear expansion, the build rate was less than 3 reactors per year.  Most countries could not afford to build these plants, which could cost up to $9 billion each (or ~$1.04 trillion per year), straining even wealthy countries like the US.  Realpolitik also tells us that not all countries will participate in such an effort, for political, financial, or security reasons. Given these challenges, it is highly improbable that nuclear is an effective solution to GW.
B. Nuclear Power = Radiological and Thermal Pollution
"In addition to radiological pollution, nuclear power also contributes massive thermal pollution to both our air and water. It has been estimated that every nuclear reactor daily releases thermal energy...in excess of the heat released by the detonation of a 15 kiloton nuclear bomb blast...[N]uclear power contributes significantly to the thermal energy inside Earth's atmosphere, making it contraindicated at this time of rapid global warming." 
C. Renewables Solve
Scientists have analzyed 139 countries' unique situations and put together individualized plans that would allow these countries to rapidly switch from fossil fuels to things like solar and wind. They argue that implementation of this plan could achieve 80% renewables by 2030.  Because this plan is tailored to suit each country's resources, it has a higher likelihood of successful implementation than a one-size-fits-all nuclear approach. In terms of displacing CO2, wind (with levelized costs) is 24x more effective than nuclear; other renewables, like hydro, range from 2x to 20x more effective than nuclear. 
Firstly, Con's card was not even about sustainability, where that is understood to mean being renewable/not beholden to limited resources like coal. His argument was essentially an extension of his reliable power arguments which I already responded to. Secondly, concerns over sustainability actually favor the Pro position. A "study, based on an analysis of global deposit depletion profiles from past and present uranium mining, forecasts a global uranium mining peak of approximately 58 kilotonnes by 2015, declining gradually to 54 ktons by 2025, after which production would drop more steeply to at most 41 ktons around 2030." The study found that even under a modest 1% per year phase-out of nuclear power worldwide, there would be supply shortages.  This has two impacts: (a) it turns sustainability for the Pro, and (b) it further complicates any efforts to scale up nuclear as a response to GW.
Con essentially holds off on really expanding this point, so I'll address this more thoroughly when his arguments are presented. However, it is worth noting that the image of the chart he pastes into the debate pertains only to natural gas and coal against nuclear. I am not advocating for the use of natural gas or coal; just like nuclear, I want to phase out these energy sources as well. Because I do not have to defend the use of fossil fuels, Con's evidence does not actually rebut my specific advocacy; it only addresses a strawman.
You'll notice that in my argument I explained how advanced nuclear was more expensive than geothermal, wind, and hydroelectric. That same source finds that biomass energy is comparable in cost to nuclear.  The cost of solar is rapidly decreasing--it is down 70% since 2009 (about 10% per year).  The trend of cratering costs is apt to continue: "The latest data show that the continued decrease in solar prices is unlikely to slow down anytime soon, with total installed prices dropping by 5 percent for rooftop residential systems, and 12 percent for larger utility-scale solar farms. With solar already achieving record-low prices, the cost decline observed in 2015 indicates that the coming years will likely see utility-scale solar become cost competitive with conventional forms of electricity generation."  Nuclear, on the other hand, is experiencing a cost surge, jumping 2.25-4.5x from 2002 to 2008.  My earlier source  also reflects a cost increase for nuclear.
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Since Con can't solve for GW, please vote Pro!
I do apologize to bsh, but with less than 3 hours to post, it would be better to waive than to forfeit.
Thanks bsh. I hereby forfeit this debate. Your arguments were far better than mine and I don't really have the time to invest in my arguments. Hopefully we can revisit this (or another topic) soon.
Congratulations on your win.
Please Vote Pro.
Please vote pro. Judges: I would like some feedback on the arguments.
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by Peepette 2 months ago
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments
Vote Placed by Hayd 2 months ago
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Reasons for voting decision: concession, don't have time for analysis
Vote Placed by whiteflame 2 months ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Concession. I'm most of the way through reading this, but given my schedule, it may be a little while before I can post analysis of the given arguments.
Vote Placed by airmax1227 2 months ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con Conceded. When/If I have time, I'll do my best to post analysis of the arguments made.
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