The Instigator
samuraiwarriorichi
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Beverlee
Pro (for)
Winning
8 Points

There is currently an enviromental crisis in the United States

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
Beverlee
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/3/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,422 times Debate No: 38452
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (3)

 

samuraiwarriorichi

Con

Is there an environmental crisis in the US? My answer to that question is no. The affirmative side lacks the correct evidence to support this claim. Before we venture further in my constructive, we need to find out what a crisis is. The Noah Webster"s dictionary defines crisis as, "an unstable or crucial time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is impending." Currently, unless I am incapable of thought, there is nothing horrible in which we need to make a decisive change. This is not just my personal conclusion, expert opinions and sources also support this conclusion. During the course of this paper, I will explain why there is no environmental crisis. To begin, I will discuss Alternative Energy and how the fuel we have right now is cleaner than ever. Then, I will discuss pollutants and how they are being controlled. Then I will conclude my constructive by reviewing the evidence.
Fossil fuels are hydrocarbons primarily coal, natural gas and oil. These fuels are primarily formed from dead plants or animals over the course of thousands of years. Many environmentalists claim that fossil fuels will run out in the near future. They claim that we are consuming fossil fuels at such an alarming rate, that we will soon run out of them. Science contradicts, however. Based on a graph Professor H.D Maher Jr of the University of Omaha, the amount of oil has actually increased since 1994. It went from 539 billion barrels to 635 billion barrels. Also on the same graph, Natural Gas also went up from 90 BBE (Billion Barrel Equivalent) to 270 BBE. Clearly, we have not discovered all the oil and natural gas in the world; therefore we are not running out resources such as oil.

Many environmentalists claim that due to fossil fuels, the air is getting more polluted. However statistics disagree, "In spite of the twentieth century's steep population rise, massive industrialization, and the nationwide proliferation of the modern automobile, the air we breathe is cleaner than it has been in decades. Data from the Environmental Protection Agency also confirm that U.S. air quality has improved since 1970," according to Drew Thorley, writer for the Manhattan Institute. The EPA even agrees that the air we breathe is cleaner than before. What is up with the claims that emissions and air quality when statistics and the EPA clearly contradict? Even with this staggering evidence, Environmentalists claim that much of the technology that helps with pollution is very unstable. However many technologies involving coal, which is considered the dirtiest of all fossil fuels, are very stable and are actually helping coal greatly. Technologies such as Flue Gas Desulfurization and Low Nitrogen Oxide Burners are examples of this. The SO2, Sulfur Dioxide, removal performance of scrubbers has been reviewed. Data reflect that most wet limestone and LSD installations appear to be capable of ~90% SO2 removal. Advanced, state-of-the-art wet scrubbers can provide SO2 removal in excess of 95%... Low Nitrogen Oxide Burners reduce the creation of NOx, a cause of ground-level ozone, by restricting oxygen and manipulating the combustion process. Low NOx burners are now on 75 percent of existing coal power plants" says the NETL and NMA. These technologies are not only reliable; they are currently being used today. Petrogel, a technology developed by Dr. T.C. Chang, helps with pollution caused by oil spills. Here is how Dr. Chang described his technology, "The difference with PETROGEL is its ability to absorb the oil, not the water, as well as more effectively release the recovered solid wastes. With PETROGEL, the resulting polyolefin/oil mixture can be treated as regular crude oil, suitable for the regular refining processes" There is no waste of natural resources and no pollution in the air or water" Not only does his technology help with oil recovery, it also conserves natural resources and adds no pollution in the air or water.
Environmentalists claim renewable forms of energy such as solar, wind and geothermal energies are much better than fossil fuels. They also claim that not only are these energies unlimited, they also come with no repercussions whatsoever in the environment. Science once again contradicts. Solar energy has some very unique disadvantages. Charles Barnheart, lead author of the study at The University of Stanford"s Global Climate and Energy Project, explains these costs. "Batteries with high energetic cost consume more fossil fuels and therefore release more carbon dioxide over their lifetime. If a battery's energetic cost is too high, its overall contribution to global warming could negate the environmental benefits of the wind or solar farm it was supposed to support. Storing energy consumer"s energy, and curtailing energy wastes it." Not only are we wasting resources, the high-end batteries are consuming fossil fuels. The point comes back to the need of fossil fuels to power grids or power plants. The technologies to make solar power the primary source in which people gain power simply does not exist. Wind energy, which can technically function on its own, can be a hazard to avian animals. An environmentalist site by the University of Wisconsin supports this claim. "Concerns are the avian and bat mortality. These creatures fly into the rotors of the turbines. Federally protected birds and bats near wind farms have raised awareness with the fish and wildlife agencies. Industries and their engineers have been busy however to improve these issues through more proper siting, insulated materials, and research on landscape and the organisms living there." This can lead to extinction of these federally protected birds. Geothermal Energy Plants can cause earthquakes. Christopher Joyce of the NPR, National Public Radio, says that, "A geothermal energy plant near the Salton Sea in California taps deep underground heat from the southern San Andreas Fault rift zone. A new study ties the amount of water pulled from the ground by the geothermal plant here to the frequency of earthquakes." Therefore with these solid evidences I say that even renewable energies have its bad effects on the environment.
Beverlee

Pro


Foreword to the Debate:


Debates are both opportunities for idea sharing and competition. The competitive element of debate reinforces the desire of both parties to present well researched and logically sound analysis of controversial topics. We want to be "right" about our ideas and views... but we also want to develop the ability to explain why we think the way that we do. Debate allows these ideas to compete in an objective forum.

In this case, Con is not calmly stating a defensible argument. He is not making the case that, "fears of a widespread environmental crisis are overblown," or "Many well-known environmental causes are misguided."

Instead, he is speaking in wild, angry extremes, and arguing that there are no negative environmental events happening anywhere in the US. The language that he is using is polemic, presenting an "all or nothing" doctrine that is well known to students of debate as being impossible to defend. This position states that no "horrible" environmental crises are happening at all... including naturally occurring ones that are not caused by human behavior, pollution or negligence. Even the infamous Koch Brothers would not go quite that far. The resolution is simply too broad and incautious to be defensible.



Is there an environmental crisis in the US? My answer to that question is no. The affirmative side lacks the correct evidence to support this claim. The Noah Webster"s dictionary defines crisis as, "an unstable or crucial time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is impending." Currently, unless I am incapable of thought, there is nothing horrible in which we need to make a decisive change.


He is saying that there are no environmental related crises anywhere in the US, because of air quality regulations by the EPA, pollution capture safegaurds in the coal industry, and new oil discoveries. He also says that the flaws in electrical and geothermal power generation mean that there are no steps that we can take to keep our world clean. No endangered animals, no polluted waterways, no Superfund sites, no radioactive waste, no coastal erosion... and no natural events that negatively impact the environment, such as fire ants.

Really? No environmental crises at all?

He also suggests that the fuel that we are using is cleaner than it was during the Industrial Revolution. This fact, while reassuring, does not prevent wetland erosion from threatening New Orleans. It also does not replenish the honeybee population.

At some point in the debate, Con will be required to admit that there exists somewhere a crisis that is harming something that is not man-made. There is a forest fire or flood somewhere, or a disease. He will have to admit that some animal somewhere is endangered, and should be protected. He will have to concede that oil is becoming more scarce in the US - and that deforestation is causing a loss of jobs. He will have to acknowledge that aquifers that provide drinking water to millions of Americans should not be jeopardized by toxic waste.

In short, Pro has taken on an impossible Burden of Proof in this debate. It cannot be argued convincingly that there are no environment related crises occurring in the US at all.
Debate Round No. 1
samuraiwarriorichi

Con

First of all where is your proof? Your graphs and evidence in your constructive seems to be missing. At present there is clearly nothing going on! As I said before, fossil fuels have gotten cleaner, this is due to not just clean coal technology but many other factors! Natural Gas is cleaner than ever, the EPA even supports it! There is also a graph made by the EPA themselves that states that the number of pollution has gone down! Before you proclaim that I am a ranting mad man, take a look at my evidence and give your evidence*-
Beverlee

Pro

Environmental Crises in the US

The United States rests atop one of the most diverse ecological regions on the planet, and includes arctic tundra, mountains, plains, coastal regions, forests, swamps, deserts and dense urban areas. Each of these environments requires a delicate equilibrium in order to maintain it's continued existence, and many of them face unique challenges and potential crises.

Con points out that many environmental protections have been implemented, and many successful strategies have been implemented to address the dangers caused by over-consumption and the use of fossil fuels. However, these laws and regulations do not comprehensively solve all of the environmental challenges that our continent faces. There are several serious ecological disasters and crises that are currently underway in America, or that present a serious risk.

It should be noted that, according to the Round 1 instigation, Pro must prove that no environmental crisis is occurring in any of the many ecologic regions in America. This is a Burden of Proof that I feel cannot be overcome. Nevertheless, I will demonstrate that some environmental crises, some of them very serious, do in fact exist in the US.

We are familiar with many environmental crises that are occurring in the US, but here are three.

Invasive Species:
The spread of Fire Ants, Zebra Mussels, Burmese Pythons, Snake-head Fish and other invasive species cost the US $120 Billion a year.

Overpopulation
The US population crossed the 100 million mark as recently as 1915, and has tripled since then. Severe overpopulation has already begun causing water shortages, crop shortages, dangerous pollution, energy shortages, fuel over consumption and food deserts. Unlike most European nations, the US population continues to grow rapidly, and will become unsustainable within 100 years,


Carbon Emissions
Although Con points to improvements in the amount of carbon emissions that are pumped into our air each year, the US remains the world largest polluter of carbon emissions. We produce 17.28 metric tons of carbon emissions each year in the US. Compared to China, which creates only 5.77 metric tons a year, and yet is famous for its poor air quality. [7] CO2 is a known greenhouse gas, and is known to be a major contributor to global climate change. [8]

I am sure that Con will deny that any of these environmental disasters are actually happening. So, I thought that I would focus particular attention on what is perhaps the most obvious, indistutable environmental catastrophe that is currently happening in the US: Mountaintop Removal Coal mining - a practice that is threatening to destroy the entire Appalachian mountain ranges.

It would be difficult to find a more obvious example of an environmental crisis than the spreading desolation that is taking place currently in Southern West Virginia. Mountaintop Removal has become common in that part of the state, and has caused nearly the entire Appalachian Mountain Range there to be transformed into a shattered moonscape of unspeakable toxic desolation



This was once a mountain.



Crisis in West Virginia
Mountaintop Removal
Coal Industry tycoons such as Alpha Natural Resources (Formerly Massey Energy) in West Virginia have used their vast political influence to control the legislative process in the region in ways that give these companies nearly free reign to do as they please. [1] This political control has given rise to the astonishing practice of Mountaintop Removal coal mining.


The near complete political domination that the coal industry holds on West Virginian politics makes Mountaintop removal completely impossible to stop.




What is Mountaintop Removal?

Put simply, Mountaintop Removal mining automates the process of coal mining, replacing workers with high explosives. The entire summit of these mountains, including ridgelines, are blown off and dumped into rivers, lakes and streams. The mountain is destroyed in the process, as are forests, careers and habitats. The toxic rubble is then dumped into nearby valleys, and hundreds of miles of rivers, lakes and streams. These valleys and waterways are often completely buried by the debris. [2]

http://www.debate.org...


How Bad is the Problem?
The scope of demolition is so massive that it cannot be described succinctly. The devastation is on such a large scale that it cannot be photographed from ground level - 1.2 million acres of forest land have been eradicated, 500 mountains have been flattened, 2000 miles of headwater streams have been buried, and 123 valleys have been filled with toxic waste, called "spoil." Several towns have been erased, and the coal industry is being wiped out - along with the careers and traditions that go along with it.

37.800832,-81.841133 <br><br>Google Maps Coordinates, showing deforestation
37.800832,-81.841133 Google Maps Coordinates, showing Massive deforestation (http://www.debate.org...)


Perhaps most horrifying, the human toll is almost unimaginable. As a result of mountaintop removal coal mining, a 1967 disaster at a dam near Buffalo Creek failed, pouring 132 million gallons of toxic coal mine waste into a population of 5000 West Virginians. 125 people died, and 1,121 were injured. [3] As horrible as this incident was, it pales in comparison to the annual number of deaths that are now thought to be caused by Mountaintop Removal. The areas of Southwestern Virginia that are home to mountaintop coal mining are also victim of the highest rate of cancer in the nation. Those living near mountaintop removal coal mines develop cancer at a rate of 14.4% compared to 9.9% throughout the rest of Appalachia.

Areas where Mountaintop Removal mining operations are occurring have the highest rates of cancer deaths in the entire United States. 14.4% of premature deaths in the region are caused by cancer. The toxic waste that is caused by MT coal mining is known to cause cancer.http://www.debate.org...


(Above: Areas where Mountaintop Removal mining operations are occurring have the highest rates of cancer deaths in the entire United States. 14.4% of premature deaths in the region are caused by cancer. The toxic waste that is caused by MT coal mining is known to cause cancer.)

In fact, it is known that the death rate in mountaintop removal coal mine areas is so high that the overall life expectancy in the region has dropped significantly. [4] Conservative estimates of the dollar cost related to premature Mountaintop Removal coal mining from all causes is $42 billion annually. [6]

Source URL: <a href=http://ilovemountains.org...

No image URL - interactive map

"The Human Toll" life expectancy change" />http://www.debate.org...



Source URL: <a href=http://appvoices.org...

No Image URL - PDF Original

"Deaths From Cancer"" />

http://www.debate.org...



There are few laws that Coal companies are forced to obey. One of these is the stipulation that operations must respect a 100 foot protective zone around burial sites. Cruelly, there is no stipulation that the cemeteries must be accessible to those who have loved ones buried there. This is Jarrell Cemetery, surrounded on all sides by mining operations.http://www.debate.org...

(Above) There are few laws that Coal companies are forced to obey. One of these is the stipulation that operations must respect a 100 foot protective zone around burial sites. Cruelly, there is no stipulation that the cemeteries must be accessible to those who have loved ones buried there. This is Jarrell Cemetery, surrounded on all sides by mining operations.
(Below) Roger and his mother Quinnie are the last remaining residents of Lindytown, West Virginia. Every other resident has been bought out by the coal company, Alpha Natural Resourses (formerly Massey Energy.)

http://www.debate.org...

500 Mountains in America's Appalachians have been destroyed by Mountaintop Removal coal mining. This is an example of what it looks like. This former mountain is all that remains of Glen Alum Mountain. Also visible in the image, many surrounding mountains have also been eradicated.

The remnants of Glen Alum Mountain

Source URL: <a href=http://ilovemountains.org... Image URL: http://farm1.staticflickr.com...; />http://www.debate.org...

http://www.debate.org...


There is no definition of "Environmental Crisis" that can possibly exclude Mountaintop Removal coal mining.








Debate Round No. 2
samuraiwarriorichi

Con

samuraiwarriorichi forfeited this round.
Beverlee

Pro

Akay.

I showed that there is at least one important environmental crisis occuring in the United States, and that environmental concerns remain relevant.

Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Manan_06 3 years ago
Manan_06
Good points and excellent research by Beverlee...
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by funwiththoughts 3 years ago
funwiththoughts
samuraiwarriorichiBeverleeTied
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Reasons for voting decision: FF.
Vote Placed by wrichcirw 3 years ago
wrichcirw
samuraiwarriorichiBeverleeTied
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Reasons for voting decision: ff. Actually I will vote sources too. The pictures got me interested enough to at least read the captions accompanying them.
Vote Placed by NiqashMotawadi3 3 years ago
NiqashMotawadi3
samuraiwarriorichiBeverleeTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con loses conduct for FF. Pro gave many good arguments for her position which were not refuted or even responded to, so I give her the Arguments, provided that Con asked for charts and numbers and got them, yet forfeited after that without providing the reader the necessary refutations.