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Resolved: A just society ought to prioritize environmental concerns over the production of energy.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/21/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,829 times Debate No: 17604
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (33)
Votes (1)




Anyone that accepts this, please begin your Pro arguments in LD format immediately. Please ask clarifications and questions in the comments section. Thanks.


-> For those judges unfamiliar with LD debate, it is a value centered debate. I'll explain more in the comments section later.

As John Muir once said, "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe." The point being that not only is human life dependent on nature and it's abundance, but all life it co-dependent on each other. Without a strong value placed on the environment, we will not be able to survive.
Therefore, I affirm the resolved, that "A just society ought to prioritize environmental concerns over the production of energy."

The highest value we can hold when looking at this resolution, would be that of Life. Life is defined by[1] as "a characteristic state or mode of living". At the core of all human values, we must first hold the value of life, without it we lose our humanity, and other people are simply disposable. Once we realize this crucial fact it cannot be denied life is in fact the highest value to be held.

Thus in order to achieve this value, I offer the criterion of the environmental wisdom worldview. This theory contends that nature exists for all the earth's species and we are not in charge of the earth; resources are limited, should not be wasted, and are not all for us; we should encourage earth-sustaining forms of economic growth and discourage earth-degrading forms of economic growth.
Essentially through this criterion we discard the faulty idea that humanity is the end-all final creation of nature, accordingly an anthropocentric value of energy is worthless as to all life.
It is only through affirmation of the resolution that we can maximize protection of life, and ensure the most life.

Going on, before we get into the bulk of the debate, I'm going to offer some framework for clarity.

= Definitions =
Just[1] "good: of moral excellence"
Prioritize[1] "status established in order of importance or urgency"
Ought[2] "used to express duty or moral obligation"
Concern[3] "Be relevant or important to"

= Framework =
Observation 1: Conflict-
The resolution implies that there must be conflict between these two sides, otherwise we wouldn't have to prioritize one thing over another unless there was an issue between the two. This means that there is no fiat in this round.

Observation 2: Environmental Concerns-
because the resolution uses the word "Concerns" instead of "issues" we can fairly dictate that "Environmental Concerns" is relevant to issues of pressing importance, and not just anything that has to do with the environment. i.e. I don't have to defend that the green movement is more important that producing electricity.

= Contentions =
Contention 1: Chernobyl Accident 1986-
From the World Nuclear Association;
[4]"The April 1986 disaster at the Chernobyl a nuclear power plant in Ukraine was the product of a flawed Soviet reactor design coupled with serious mistakes made by the plant operators. It was a direct consequence of Cold War isolation and the resulting lack of any safety culture."
" The Chernobyl accident in 1986 was the result of a flawed reactor design that was operated with inadequately trained personnel. The resulting steam explosion and fires released at least 5% of the radioactive reactor core into the atmosphere and downwind. Two Chernobyl plant workers died on the night of the accident, and a further 28 people died within a few weeks as a result of acute radiation poisoning. "

In this contention, we begin to see the dire effects on human life when we prioritize the production of energy over environmental concerns. Because of the Cold War, Ukrainian citizens where forced, by any means necessary create energy. Regardless of the effects on the environment, or safety issues.
In fact even still today in Chernobyl and surrounding areas, citizens [4]"still suffer from an increased rate of thyroid cancer."
When our main goal is production of energy, not only do we destroy our environment; but we throw caution to the wind in regards to matters of safety.

Contention 2: Love Canal Disaster-
From the Columbia University Press;
[5]" section of Niagara Falls, N.Y., that formerly contained a canal that was used as chemical disposal site. In the 1940s and 50s the empty canal was used by a chemical and plastics company to dump nearly 20,000 tons (c.18,000 metric tons) of toxic waste; the waste was sealed in metal drums in a manner that has since been declared illegal. The canal was then filled in and the land given to the expanding city of Niagara Falls by the chemical company. Housing and an elementary school were built on the site. By the late 1970s several hazardous chemicals had leaked through their drums and risen to the surface. Investigations confirmed the existence of toxins in the soil and determined that they were responsible for the area's unusually high rates of birth defects, miscarriages, cancer, illness, and chromosome damage. Families were evacuated from the area in 1978, and in 1980 the Love Canal area was declared a national emergency."
Again, we see the effects when we value production of energy over the world we live in.

Contention 3: Gulf Oil Spill-
Who can forget Gulf Oil Spill, which only one year ago ravaged not only America's pocketbooks, but our lives, and the environment as well? Even with all the exhaustive efforts in cleaning up this huge mess, we can see that still today we're experience the of this environmental disaster. asks the question [6]"What is the cost of spilling almost five million barrels of oil into the ocean? How do you measure that cost? In GDP reduction? In lives affected? In environmental impact? And how do you measure the cost when long-term effects are impossible to calculate yet, and when a significant portion of the spilled oil is still unaccounted for? One year since the Deepwater Horizon platform exploded, killing 11 workers, there are measurable effects, and many more unknowns."
The site when on to report some devastating effects still lingering today, including [6]"Oil tar balls still washing ashore in L.A., Wildlife dying from poisoning, Shoreline erosion, Human lives lost in oil rig explosion, Businesses suffering from lack of resources, Multiple health problems from unclean water, and many many more."

= Conclusion =
To conclude, we can see beyond the shadow of a doubt that when in conflict any society that holds a standard of moral excellence, must prioritize Environmental concerns above the production of energy. Until we can do this, we will never be able to maximize the longevity of human life.

Finally, I leave you with this question to consider; what good is energy to a dead man?
I urge an Affirmative vote in this debate.

= Sources =
[3] Google Dictionary
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for your argument! I will begin with my own and then address the pro case.

"This intolerable dependence on foreign oil threatens our economic independence and the very security of our nation. The energy crisis is real. It is worldwide. It is a clear and present danger to our nation. These are facts and we simply must face them." In July of 1979, President Jimmy Carter told the nation about the realities of our modern world. With the immense power struggle continuing between many developed nations such as the United States and China, energy production will become key to who will dominate the new century. It is because i agree with president carter and believe in the necessity of energy that i negate the resolution as stated by the pro.

Aristotle believed that happiness is what all actions are completed for. We as human beings do things in order to maximize happiness, and we institute governments in order to achieve the greatest amount of security and happiness in a whole society. We must value happiness in this round, because all of our actions are done as a means to happiness.

In order to achieve happiness, many things must be provided to us. When a government has been instituted in a society, it is there job to facilitate our happiness to the best of their abilities. I will use energy as my criterion, the most efficient way of achieving happiness in our modern age. Everything that we do must first be facilitated by energy of some sort, so we must prioritize the production of energy in order to achieve happiness.

I accept all of my opponents definitions.

Observation: Ought
Because the resolution uses the word ought, my opponent must establish that a government has a moral obligation to protect the environment.

Contention 1: The necessity of energy.
In an article posted on by Fareed Zakaria, he states that whoever is to dominate in the 21st century must have the energy problem figured out. The U.S. and her citizens have long enjoyed the success of our country as the world superpower in military, economics and politics. However we cannot hope to stay competitive without the production of energy. Those nations such as Saudi Arabia that have control of a large energy supply such as oil will always be competitive because of their stranglehold on nations such as the United States, and everyone that has ever purchased gas knows that this stranglehold is getting tighter and tighter as time goes on. When it comes to a decision of either drilling oil in Alaska to help ease the economic stress on citizens or not because of a possible disruption of the ecosystem, a just government must prioritize producing energy and increasing the happiness of its own people. A governments responsibility is to protect and enhance the lives of its citizens. A government that fails to do so to the best of its abilities is no longer just.

I now move on to my opponents case.

First on the value and criterion. He uses the value of life, clearly defined along with humanity, however we must see that life should not be the ultimate value because it will always exist. When discussing a just society, we already have a society with people in it in existence. To value life is to value something that already is there and will continue to be in the society. It is not contingent upon anything, including his criterion. We must prefer the cons value of happiness, because while we always have life, we do not always have happiness, as happiness is contingent upon many things. For his criterion, he uses the environmental wisdom worldveiw. This states that human life is not the most important thing on this earth, however he tells you the opposite when he values life and humanity. His criterion strictly conflicts his value at this point. Furthermore, his criterion also does nothing to promote his value. He does not prove at any point that if we respect the rest of nature, we achieve more life. He must draw this link in order for his value to be upheld.

In his framework, he states on his observation two that we cant count the green movement over producing electricity. However the resolution states environmental concerns, which is exactly the reason that the green movement began. Dont let him attempt to restrict the debate in this framework, it must be rejected.

On his contention 1 of Chernobyl, he cites the loss of thirty lives as the dire effects of energy production however i have three responses to this. First, although one bad nuclear situation has occured in the past, we cant ignore the benifits of nuclear technology. 35,000 cancer patients in the U.S. alone rely on isotopes produced in nuclear plants. So while many people died in this one instance, many other lives are being supported because of nuclear power. Second, at the end of the argument, he states that not only do we harm the environment, however he never gives any damages to the environment. He ignores the pro burden of supporting environmental concerns but rather attempts to create a level ground for both sides, in that event the con must win. And third, because he opens the door of using examples of failed energy production attempts, i will combat that with many more successes. The fact that you are on a computer reading this is a success. You turned on your lights when you walked into the room. Success. Many medical procedures using power have saved thousands and thousands of lives. When weighing examples, as all of his contentions attempt to do, the con side will always win.

On to his contention 2, he gives the example of the toxic waste dump site at love canal. However this contention does not fit into this topic at all. The company dumping the toxic waste was a chemical and plastic company. Not an energy production facility. This event is no example of valuing energy production or environmental protection. It is not topical and so please disregard.

Finally, on his contention 3 he gives the example of the gulf oil spill. As horrible of an event that was, we must once again weigh it on the scale. The U.S. consumes almost 21 million barrels of oil in a single day, giving us countless benifits. To say that we must eliminate the use of oil in order to prevent an oil spill every once in a great while is completely illogical. The absence of oil in todays world would completely collapse the economy. Oil is used in transportation, production, creating electricity and many other necessities. The lack of oil would eliminate the happiness of people on a large scale, which is not favorable in a society.

In conclusion, we can see that all of my opponents arguments hinge off of his three examples, which i have proven are heavily outweighed when compared to the benifits of energy production. Look to these flaws and his value criterion contradiction and we can see that the pro has no ground. Thank you.


As a brief road map. I will be attacking the Con, and defending the Pro.

First off, we look at my opponent's value of Happiness. Happiness is a very shallow,if not the most shallow value value that could ever be held. It's a fleeting emotion tied from anything and everything from kittens to thermonuclear reactors. In fact it's a value so easily achieved that even if you completely ignore the Con case, and tie the value of Happiness to the Pro case, I achieve it.
Second, Happiness is a subsidiary value to Life. A dead man cannot be happy, thus before we ever value happiness we must value life.
Finally, a Con vote will neither achieve happiness, nor maximize it. When happiness is contingent on possession, electricity, or oil; it can only last so long as society is satisfied with their electronics.

My opponent offers the Criterion of energy; however energy is not a criterion, it is not a weighing mechanism. Energy is a means to an end. My opponent's should actually be Cars, Computers, Video Games, and any other product that uses energy. Honestly, who do you know that that has their fun by staring an electric outlet, or a gas pump?
The point I want to drive home with this argument is two fold
One, the things my opponent is advocating are nothing bu shallow and fleeting pleasures.
Two, my opponent has no weighing mechanism to truly achieve happiness.

Contention 1-
I'm just going to list out a few basic arguments against this contention here.
+ Citizens have had the option to switch to electric cars for quite a few years now
+ Oil is not the only power sources, in fact along with the prior mentioned electrical car, there are engines that can run off of sea water[1] Vegetable oil[2] and even human excrement[3]. There are no end to alternative fuel sources that can be supplemented for Gas, Oil and Petroleum needs.
+ The impact here, is that my opponent has no impact. We as Americans need to abandon our false idea that Oil is the only energy recourse we have. Otherwise not only do we begin to fall prey to valuing such shallow things as happiness, but we destroy our environment needlessly, and rob not only people, but plants and animals of life.

My opponent's only attack was that life will always exist, to this I say dinosaurs. That's right, dinosaurs. To say that life will always exist is to ignore the real problem here, that life will only exist if we value it.
Also, I extend my attack on my opponent's value, that without life we cannot value happiness. A dead man cannot be happy, he's dead.
Also I want to provide two quick clarifications,
1. I'm not valuing just human life, but all life as a whole
2. I realize that death is an inevitable part of life, My goal here is to maximize life, not ensure to everything.

My opponent's attack here is simply based on him not fully reading, or at least not fully understand, my criterion. The Environmental Wisdom World View, dictates not that all other forms of life are more important that human life, but that all life is sacred, and doesn't belong exclusively to humanity. It claims that resources are not human property, but the shared property of all of nature, and we shouldn't act in a way that selfishly benefits ourselves if it hurts nature.
It it only through this criterion that that we not only maximize life, but we also keep ourselves safe from falling into the valuing selfish thing, and even forcing ourselves to believe that they're necessities.

Contention 1-
I'm going to address each of my opponent's attacks directly
Attack 1- My opponent claims that the same technology that has killed all these people, has saved the lives of numerous cancer patients. 35,000 to be exact. However I have several rebuttals to this.
First, there are many other cures to cancer that aren't used simply because they cannot be marketed as drugs in the united states.[4]
Second millions of people have cancer, and although Chemotherapy is the industry standard millions of people still die every year due to cancer, and failed Chemotherapy. Chemoherapy only has an overall success rate of 2%[5]

Attack 2-
I expressly spoke of how even today, there are increased levels of thyroid cancer in these areas due to this terrible accident.

Attack 3-
Here I just want to extend all of the arguments I made on my opponent's Value and Criteria, he never really succeeds in solving for the harms I present here, and instead simply claims that we still have all of this innovative technology that makes up for the environmental damage, and live lost.
However as I cannot stress enough, no amount of technology, or fancy toys will ever equate human life.

Contention 2-
+ First my opponent completely disregards my argument here, once I show how this does indeed tie into the resolution, I will have enough impact here alone to win the debate.
First, as my opponent said the company made chemicals; many of which where used in energy production.
Second, When these people moved onto this land, it cannot be denied that energy was produced here. This coupled with the Pro Value makes for a direct link into the resolution

Contention 3-
There is absolutely no refutation here.
Obviously the people affected by this tragedy do not have happiness, and they've also lost plenty of life in this disaster.
I also want to extend the arguments I made on my opponents sole contention, Oil is not the only means to obtain energy, we have plenty of resources, and ingenuity to make up for the what we would lose in oil.
Also, I'm advocating for complete removal of oil, at least not immediately. All I'm saying is that this painfully over dependance on oil has ravaged our environment time and time again, and we continue to see it's affect on life, but human and animal life.

There are others means to this same end, and this absurd obsession with Oil will only end up destroying humanity
I urge an affirmative vote in this debate.

= Sources =
Debate Round No. 2


Thanks for this debate so far! Its been really fun! I will start off by defending my case and then returning to the pro.

My opponent starts off on my value of happiness. He simply states that he believes happiness to be the most shallow value that can be held, and that it is simply a fleeting emotion. However my opponent fails to address my actual argument and the merits behind it, instead he argues the word itself. I use Aristotle's view on happiness, which is that we as human beings, act in a way that will bring us happiness. So however shallow my opponent believes this value, one of the more intelligent minds in the history of our planet believed it to be the ends that all human beings are searching for. He then states that happiness is subsidiary to life, however i will address this point when i look to the pro case.* Finally, my opponent says negation will not achieve or maximize happiness, however this is easily refuted. I would be extremely angry if i wasnt able to use my computer because of a blackout caused by a lack of energy. While happiness may be contingent upon other things if we were in a state of nature, because we have advanced into an age where energy is a necessity to everyday activities such as driving and making my coffee in the morning, the lack of energy will result in a lack of happiness.

He then addresses my criterion of energy. He states that it is not weighing mechanism, which is not true. Yes it is a strange criterion, however the fact that we are debating an energy resolution makes it a weighing factor. Im using energy on a whole as a way to power everything that we use, not suggesting that somebody gets happy by playing with an outlet.:)

On to my contention, my opponent says that that first, we have had the option to switch to a different type of energy for a while now. This doesn't refute anything however, it simply moves from my one example of oil to a different example of energy. The argument i make here is that everything we do is run from energy, so no it does not have to be oil, but you still need energy. Second, where he says i have no impact, this is false. The impact would be that almost every single thing we do consumes energy of some kind that must be produced. Thats a pretty large impact considering the backlash that would occur with a loss of energy in our fragile nation we live in today.

I would like to address something here that my opponent drops in his arguments, therefore conceding to it. I make the observation of the word ought, and how my opponent must prove that a society has a moral obligation to prioritize environmental concerns. Because my opponent has conceded to follow this, dont allow him to come at the end of the third round to argue framework. He must prove the moral obligation, which he has not done to this point.

Now on to the Pro case.

On his value of life, his response was dinosaurs. I understand the argument he makes however he is misunderstanding the argument that i make. If the resolution were something along the lines of, "to sustain a just society, we ought to prioritize environmental concerns over the production of energy", then the value of life makes sense. However, because the resolution gives us the information that we already have a just society, we need not value life. The resolution will always have life included in it. There is no flip-side, that if we negate we lose life or anything. Pro will always have life in the debate, con will always have life. Rather than argue something that is implicit in the resolution, we need to go where there is question, hence my value of happiness.

On his criterion of The Environmental Wisdom World View, first off, thanks for the clarification of the value-criterion connection! Now, my opponent argues that we shouldn't act in a way to selfishly benefit ourselves if it hurts nature. However, we must see that a society on its own does just this. The fact that people gather in close proximity to each other to enjoy the benefits of a social contract in itself harms nature by forcing animal habitats to change and possibly harming an ecosystem. The only way that we can actually achieve what my opponent is advocating is to abolish the formations of society in order for the masses to not harm nature. Second, the fact that humans must consume nature in order to survive also defeats his criterion. If we didn't harm nature, not only would we be in a state of ungoverned nature, but we would all eventually die without food or water for consumption, strictly going against his value of life.

On to his contention one, Attack one. First he states that there are other cures to cancer that cannot be marketed as drugs in the United States. However this fact does not change my attack. Regardless of what COULD be used, im telling you what IS being used. Prefer this because im showing you the benefits that are occurring in the present. Second, he states that the vast majority of people who get cancer die from it anyways, however this doesnt justify letting the 2% that survive die as well. That two percent, as small as it is comparatively to the whole, is far more than the small number who died at chernobyl. The con better achieves the pros value of life on this contention, as well as my own. On my attack two, he states that there are increased levels of thyroid cancer, however he never impacts this. A simple rise of one person getting thyroid cancer is considered an increase, and thyroid cancer has a 97% successful cure rate. This argument has no impact. On the attack three, he states that i never solve for the harms. This is true, i cannot say that this example was in any way good, however my argument is that one bad egg doesn't ruin the rest of the dozen. When we compare this failure to the mass good that energy has brought the world, it is very heavily outweighed. I agree that no amount of technology will ever equate human life, however, no amount of environmental conservation will either.

On to the contention two, he attempts to make up for his mistake by saying that the chemicals were used in energy production. However this is not believable. First, he doesnt even give the name of the company. Second, he doesnt tell you for what these chemicals were used for. The second part of his argument is that energy was produced there. However this does not fit in the resolution. He states himself that this section of land was toxic. This case was in no way an example of the people valuing energy over an environmental concern. First off, they didnt know that the land was a toxic dump, and second, even if they did produce energy, which you dont prove, they wernt harming the environment there any more than it already was. This argument simply is not topical, and your attempts to salvage it may be making you worse off.

Lastly on the contention three, this is extremely similar to the contention one. He gives an argument that paints a loss of life and property. However, once again i must tell you to look at the scale of things. There is a large majority of success stories to outweigh this A-typical case. Furthermore, once again he states that their are other sources of energy, however we need to understand that even the production of alternate forms of energy still fits under the con side of the resolution. He doesnt actually defend any of his arguments with the pro side, rather bringing up other examples that still uphold the con.



Hello-Orange forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


Not sure what happened to my opponent but this kind of ruins the rest of the debate so just vote on what has happened so far i guess. Sorry.


Sorry guys :(
I agree, just vote on the first 2 rounds. Honestly it's more fair this way anyway.
Debate Round No. 4
33 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by spenserririe 5 years ago
Id say 12 hours is more than a bit haha. :D
Posted by Hello-Orange 5 years ago
I'll have my arguments up in a bit
Posted by Hello-Orange 5 years ago
Your sources didn't show up D:
Posted by spenserririe 5 years ago
Haha ok maybe i will....ill have my argument posted tonight btw.
Posted by Hello-Orange 5 years ago
Go ahead and post them in your next round, it's not too late, and it's not based on quantity; but quality.
Posted by Hello-Orange 5 years ago
Lol, well now you know for next time :)
Posted by spenserririe 5 years ago
Oh haha i guess i dont have a chance at winning that area then! :D
Posted by Hello-Orange 5 years ago
I'm sure you do, but I don't post them for that reason.
Other Users who read the debate may want to go check out the sources themselves, they may want to read deeper into it. and if this actually became a resolution used in real LD then it would be convenient for some-one who saw it while researching.
Also, sources are a voting issue; the more easily my sources are accessible, the more likely I am to get the sources vote.
Posted by spenserririe 5 years ago
Hey theres no need to post your sources, i trust you haha
Posted by Mestari 5 years ago
No problem, it's cool. I'm from a very progressive region where we run Morality as the value every round, if we run a value at all. This leads to a heavy clash at the criterion, believe it or not, as debaters go very deep into standard justifications and meta-ethical arguments. Valuing life would be fun, but here's my view Life and Happiness both fall under a utilitarian impact calculus, so why not just value morality and allow yourself more specificity at the criterion level? As for Justice, there are some topics where that becomes a legitimate value, such as the Juvenile Justice topic. It leads to some rather interesting debates between Morality and Justice. That's the only major value clash I've seen thus far in my career.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 3 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
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Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:--Vote Checkmark3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: Con was very understanding of the missed round, whereas pro tried to get con's R3 removed.