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Public Forum, October Topic: Poverty Reduction vs. Environmental Protection

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/26/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,427 times Debate No: 9841
Debate Rounds (4)
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This is a debate for the October Public Forum Topic. The resolution is "Resolved: When in conflict, the United Nations should prioritize global poverty reduction over environmental protection." I've got one more weekend to debate this topic so I figured I might as well try and get one last practice round in.

Whoever accepts this just post something short and meaningless in round 1. Then we can post our contructives in R2 and have R3 and R4 for rebuttals. I plan on just using my in tournament pro case, feel free to do the same as far as your con case if you wish.

This will be my first debate on this website, so if I appear a little uneasy to the concept then I am sorry (for example I have no idea how many characters I should make the argument max. I went with 8,000 simply because it was the default setting).

Anyway, I wish my opponent the best of luck. Hopefully we can get this thing moving.


I will allow my opponent to proceed with the first speech in the next round. The next round will be the start of the debate. I assume we will be following Public Forum rules/guidelines for this debate.
Debate Round No. 1


ToTheMax forfeited this round.


Poverty will always exist. The problem with attempting to solve poverty is that, once we fix it, it acts as a temporary fix. However, it is possible to create a long term solution to environmental protection. David Ricardo, an English political economist, developed an idea known as the law of iron wages. Ricardo believed that there was really only natural prices and market prices of the business world. Ricardo believed that the natural price of labor was how much it took to maintain the laborer. However, the natural wage is not what's needed to actually keep a laborer above what is now known as the poverty line. Ricardo said, "An English laborer would consider his wages under their natural rate, and too scanty to support a family, if they enabled him to purchase no other food than potatoes, and to live in no better habitation than a mud cabin; yet these moderate demands of nature are often deemed sufficient in countries where 'man's life is cheap', and his wants easily satisfied." Ricardo's point is essentially that in a capitalist world market, employers are going to want to pay the least they can for labor. Unless the entire world was to suddenly turn anti-capitalism, Ricardo's€™s iron law of wages apply around the world. Thus, capitalism will always lead to some form of poverty. Any "fixes" that our opponents may have to poverty are null and void because although they may fix poverty in the short term, this will only propagate the vicious cycle. This vicious cycle as Ricardo says is that "high wages give to the increase of population, the number of labourers is increased, wages again fall to their natural price, and indeed from a reaction sometimes fall below it." Thus there is no final way to solve poverty.

Environmental protection is essential to boosting the world economy, which wipes out poverty reduction. According to the Worldwatch Institute, investing in greener sources of fuel and energy such as solar and wind power would create up to nearly eight times as many jobs as fossil fuels can. The jobs of the people that run green energy facilities do not require a high education or specific talent, just an ability to construct and operate machinery. It is a perfect way to create jobs for impoverished people who might not be making money otherwise. Also, greener energy is cheaper, so all of the world, including poor countries, would be saving over $180 billion a year according to Greenpeace if the United Nations implements use of renewable energies worldwide. Not only that, but climate change will actually harm the poorest states, reducing their economies even further. Currently, according to the World Bank, the majority of the world's impoverished countries lie below the equator, coincidentally where the majority of global warming threats are currently focused. Reduced rainfall and more frequent disasters in these regions would destroy water supplies, devastate crops, and bring down economic productivity in these areas, not only causing starvation and droughts, but causing populations to spiral down into even deeper poverty than they are already experiencing. Also, some of the poorest nations, like India, Bangladesh, and some parts of Africa, are already low-lying, so a rise in sea-level would have disastrous effects on these regions. Therefore, we see how prioritizing poverty would only continue the vicious cycle in which attempts at aiding impoverished peoples only make their economical dilemmas even worse, as well as their actual health.

Environmental degradation is a leading cause of health problems. The main health problems stem from the problems with the water supply. According to a UNICEF report from August 16th 2009, "Every day approximately 4,500 children die before their fifth birthday due to unsafe water, sanitation, and hygiene. Simple, affordable and effective interventions such as handwashing with soap and water help reduce the incidence diarrheal morbidity the second biggest killer of children under five - by up to 47%". Yet, currently no attempts are being made to effectively cut down on this. According to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, "If children are taught proper hygiene, primary schooling can transform them into health educators for their families, thereby passing on vital information and skills that can reduce household vulnerability to deadly diarrhoeal diseases by at least 40%." Thus, it is more sensible for the UN to invest money into the environment if they could solve poverty related deaths by just dealing with the water supply. In addition to the water problems, the climate change has been impacting agriculture. Environmental problems and agriculture have been proven to be correlated according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007), "Recent studies indicate that increased frequency of heat stress, droughts and floods negatively affect crop yields and livestock beyond the impacts of mean climate change... Climate variability and change also modify the risk of fires, pest and pathogen outbreak, negatively affecting food, fiber and forestry." According to the Institute for Environmental Decisions in Zurich, "In most developing countries the agricultural sector still employs most of the population and adds substantially to the countries' GDP (e.g. up to 59 per cent in Guinea Bissau; WRI, 2003). Reductions in crop yields could lead to famine and undernourishment."

Due to all the aforementioned reasons I urge a Con ballot.
Debate Round No. 2


I apologize for not posting a round 2 arguement. My computer got a virus and I was unable to get on it until today. I'll just post my case in this round and then you'll just have an extra round to attack my case I suppose. Not much else we can do. Sorry again.

Think for a moment about how much money you spend every day. You spend it on food, clothes, and many other various necessities. Almost half the world-over three billion people-live on less than $2.50 a day. Could you survive on just $2.50 a day? If your answer to that question was no, then you're on the same boat as most of those three billion people. They simply cannot survive this way. This is why my I stand in firm affirmation of the resolution which states "Resolved: When in conflict, the United Nations should prioritize global poverty reduction over environmental protection." I will prove my stance through the following three main points: 1. The number of people living and dying in poverty is too great to ignore. 2. Prioritizing poverty reduction will actually help the environment as well in the long run. 3. The United Nations has a moral obligation to protect its people and prioritize poverty reduction

Now for my first main point: The number of people living and dying in poverty is too great to ignore. According to "", 25,000 children alone die from poverty every day and over 50,000 people die of poverty every day. Also from Jack M. Hollander of Energy and Resources & Berkeley and Anup Shah of, people living in poverty are subject to primitive technological status, lack of educational and employment opportunities and poor sanitation as approximately 790 million people in the developing world are still chronically undernourished. And as Dr. James Gilligan notes: "Every fifteen years, on the average, as many people die because of relative poverty as would be killed in a nuclear war that caused 232 million deaths; and every single year, two to three times as many people die from poverty throughout the world as were killed by the Nazi genocide of the Jews over a six-year period. This is, in effect, the equivalent of an ongoing, unending thermonuclear war on the weak and poor every year of every decade, throughout the world." The environment could wait; people are dying and suffering right now as we speak. It's as simple as that.

My second main point is that prioritizing poverty reduction will actually help the environment as well in the long run. According to David Vogel of the University of California-Berkeley, "as a nation's living standard improves, so does its willingness to devote additional resources to protecting its environment and improving the health of its citizens. Although it is true that in the short run, industrial development exacerbates a number of environmental problems – contemporary China is a good example – in the long run it leads to better environmental quality. Witness the recent strengthening of standards in high-growth export-oriented nations such as Taiwan, Korea, Mexico, and Israel. "What this is saying is that once poverty reduction is prioritized and a nation becomes industrialized, in the long run it will help the economy and the environment as well because countries will have more resources to devote to environmental protection. This is only true however, if poverty reduction becomes the priority. From 1981 to 2005, China's poverty rates fell from 85% to 15.9%, or by over 660 million people. They are also now able to help the environment and have the ability to improve environmental quality, all because poverty reduction was prioritized.

My third main point states that the United Nations has a moral obligation to protect its people and prioritize poverty reduction. The United Nations has made public pledges to do their best to reduce poverty such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which is a pledge world leaders made to try to slash poverty, hunger, preventable illness and a host of other socio-economic ills by 2015. In addition, Australian Prime Minister John Howard has said that "the idea that we can address climate-change matters successfully at the expense of economic growth is not only unrealistic but also unacceptable". The United Nations has a moral obligation to help reduce poverty and by creating the Millennium Development Goals, they have already shown that they are prioritizing poverty reduction and thus the outcome of this debate should have already been decided for us.

In conclusion, I have spoken to you about the following three main points: 1. the number of people living and dying in poverty is too great to ignore. 2. Prioritizing poverty reduction will actually help the environment as well in the long run. 3. The United Nations has a moral obligation to protect its people and prioritize poverty reduction. Poverty kills, viciously and mercilessly, and to say that letting that many people die is for the better of people is absurd and offensive. 25,000 children die each day due to this crisis; the United Nations should not sit back and let this happen. For these reasons I ask you for a pro ballot.


First of all, I'd like to set a guideline for the round. Poverty is defined strictly as making $2 or less a day. This is the World Bank's definition and should be adhered to in the round.

In my opponent's first contention they speak about the death toll. However, they are negligent of the fact that the environment is to blame for the majority of these deaths. The majority of poverty related deaths occur due to air and water pollution. These are both clearly environmental factors. According to the UN, 33% of all worldly disease can be attributed to environmental factors. Thus, shouldn't we be cutting down on the root of the problem instead of trying to solve poverty? As I stated in my own case, most impoverished countries are at the greatest threat of environmental disasters. Thus, it is only logical to solve the environmental crisis first because putting a roof over someone's head won't protect them from a tsunami.

My opponent's second contention should be dropped on the basis that it is in no way feasible. I challenge my opponent to show how the UN can help to reduce poverty. In the past their efforts have failed since the UN can only really help by donating money. However, this money usually ends up in the hands of corrupt war lords and dictators and never really has an affect on the impoverished people. Even when the UN attempts to donate food to impoverished nations there have been many cases of food riots where citizens burn the donated food.
In my opponent's second contention he also insists that all nations become industrialized because this will promote environmental sustainability in the long run. However, my opponent is ignoring the simple logic that when nations go through industrialization they produce the most greenhouse gases. This will only make the threat of the environmental more dire thus being an irrational alternative. Plus, China is one small scale example and my opponent can not prove that this statistic is applicable on a global scale.

My opponent's third contention is that the UN has a moral obligation to its people, which means prioritizing poverty reduction. However, this point works as a Con point too. It is the UN's moral obligation to protect the general welfare of people. If the environment is becoming such a threat that it deserves attention too then wouldn't it only be rational to prioritize the environment under this contention. In addition, while poverty kills about 18 million people a year, the environment has the potential to kill the human population as we know it. Thus, the issue of morality works on the Con side of the debate rather than the Pro.

For all the aforementioned reasons I urge a Con ballot
Debate Round No. 3


ToTheMax forfeited this round.


Please extend all of my arguments as well as note the fact that none of my arguments have been responded to yet. Thus, all my arguments stand in the round as well as all of my arguments against my opponent's case. I urge a con ballot.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by wjmelements 8 years ago
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