The Instigator
Willoweed
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Ore_Ele
Con (against)
Winning
13 Points

There should be Cap-and-trade system or something similar for greenhouse gasses.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
Ore_Ele
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/16/2011 Category: Economics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,042 times Debate No: 19321
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (11)
Votes (3)

 

Willoweed

Pro

A cap-and-trade system is where the government sets a cap on the amount of emissions (example Carbon) and then allocates permits to power plants, buildings etc. The only way for a power plant to increase its emissions is by purchasing permits from other power for a shorter version something similar to a cap and trade system would be putting a tax on each pound of Carbon that is emitted.

I will allow my opponent to either present his/her arguments first or to accept the challenge and allow me to present my arguments first.
Ore_Ele

Con

I would like to thank my opponent for starting an environmental debate. Sadly, we don't see too many of these (or science debates in general) on DDO.

First, I'm going to place a bit more solid of a definition on CaT (Cap and Trade), since "or something similar" is very vague.

CaT [1] – "Cap and trade is an environmental policy tool that delivers results with a mandatory cap on emissions while providing sources flexibility in how they comply." This is done by allowing companies that have extra "cap room" (emissions that they are allowed to emit, but have no need to) trade or sell that "cap room" to companies that do need it.

Carbon Tax [2] – "A carbon tax is a tax on the carbon content of fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas)." This is often used for when companies go above the CaT limits and do not buy cap room from other companies to offset. However, this can also be applied as a straight tax, as if the cap limit was zero.

Something similar – For this debate, something similar should be limited to meeting the following conditions.

1) Punishing (through increased costs, such as fees, fines, increased taxes, etc) companies for excessive emissions of carbons into the environment.
2) Be based on the amount of carbon emitted, rather than off of net income, property value or some other measuring stick.
3) Applies to all companies, big or small, and not just targeted industries.

If my opponent wishes, he may expand this from just companies to people as well, but this will be up to him. I do request that my opponent, in the beginning of his opening argument, mention which greenhouse gases he is wanting to debate. If it is just carbon dioxide, or if there are others. I believe the best debate can occur if we pick a handful and focus on them. Omitting any chemicals does not imply that they do not effect our environment, but simply that they are not the subject of this policy (example, if you choose to only focus on CO2, I can't say, "why not chemical X? Do you not care about bla bla bla....").

With that, I will pass this on and allow my opponent to begin his arguments.

Thank you,

[1] http://www.epa.gov...
[2] http://www.carbontax.org...
Debate Round No. 1
Willoweed

Pro

I accept my opponent's definitions and thank my opponent for posting them. The greenhouse gasses I will be using will be Carbon, and Nitrous.

1)Moral argument:
A government program such as cap-and-trade for greenhouse gasses can basically be descripted as a fee on pollution that damages people's health and our environment. This fee is a moral imperative because it makes it so that corporations and groups that are harming everyone's health and environment effectively pay for the damage they cause.
A cap-and-trade system is therefor similar to traffic fines; people who drive while intoxicated or who drive recklessly are fined for this behavior because it endangers other people's lives; the same should be true for major polluters.

2)Economic argument:
Since emissions of greenhouse gasses are harmful to human health(examples include increases in cancer and autism), and the environment it means that every pound of said emissions will end up increasing health care costs and other costs associated with climate change/global warming (examples include increases in flooding and tropical storms). This means that a cap-and-trade system will provide incentives for polluters to stop emitting harmful gasses which will save the economy money.

3)Success of cap-and-trade programs already implemented.
A.Cap-and-trade isn't a new idea; America first implemented a cap-and-trade system for pollutants that cause acid rain (SO2) in the early 1990's. Analysis and the empirical evidence of the acid rain cap-and-trade shows that the compliance costs that industry groups original estimated were vastly overstated. Studies of the result of the cap and trade policy found that acid rain causing chemicals which are also hazardous to human health decreased because of the policy, and resulted in a net benefit to the economy

B.Another cap-and-trade system has been set up by a few northeastern states; this one is more relevant to the discussion at hand considering that this cap-and-trade policy is for greenhouse gasses. Analysis of the effects of this system shows that it has had a positive benefit-cost ratio and has resulted in the creation of thousands of jobs.
Ore_Ele

Con

I thank my opponent for his quick argument. I shall address it in several points.

The first point I would like to address is the scope of this debate. My opponent has chosen for us to focus on Carbon (most commonly CO2, but not limited to that, as partially burnt hydrocarbons are also carbon gases) and Nitrous (any gas that has 3 or less nitrogen atoms in it, apart from N2. Well N2 is a Nitrous gas, but I'm not going to be so mean as to argue that). So, for the scope of this debate, we are going to be looking at Carbon (not limited to just CO2) and Nitrous, nothing else. And since this debate is "for greenhouse gases" we can ignore harmful non-greenhouse gases.

Now, I will go into my opponent's arguments.

1)The Moral Argument

My opponent claims that we have a moral and ethical responsibility to make companies pay if they are harming the people of their society. Under this moral argument, such a CaT policy must also target individuals, since if they are harming the people of society, they too must pay (you cannot argue that companies harm people, but that other do not without invoking special pleading). I accept this moral argument, because I too believe that if you harm someone, you should have to pay to remedy that harm.

Next, my opponent claims that this is no different than fining people who drive while intoxicated or recklessly. Unfortunately, this is not an accurate analogy. Remember, CaT means that a company that is tossing out a lot of pollutants can pay another company to cut their emissions so that the first company can continue. This is the equivalent of paying other drivers to drive safely so you can continue to drive recklessly. Or, since the legal limit is .08, if you're caught at .14 (legally a DUI), paying some other motorist who hasn't drank anything (and so at .00) for some "alcohol cap" so that you are not legally drunk until .16 bac. Obviously, such a policy would not be conducive to a safe driving society.

2)Economics argument

My opponent points to the harm of various gases. However, no sources are present, so I cannot determine which gases he is referring to. So I will just do a quick run through of common gases.

Nitrous Oxide – This is a highly powerful green house gas (about 300 times more powerful than CO2), however, its dangers become present only in significant concentrations (75%) [1]. Needless to say, 75% (what is used for anesthesia) is so far beyond the concerns of emissions, that there is no practical use of CaT for this.

Nitrogen Dioxide – This is a very dangerous chemical, however it is not a GHG, "The concentrations of the nitrogen oxides NO and NO2 and carbon monoxide (CO) are also increasing. Although these gases themselves are not greenhouse gases, they affect atmospheric chemistry…" [2].

CO2 – This is a GHG, however we find that there are no harmful effects under 20,000 and studies have shown that exposure to 6% (or 60,000 ppm) has no permanent effects [3].

Hydrocarbons – These can be any variety of partially burned oils, fuels, or alcohol. They can even been the vapors of such. These can pose serious effects. However, CaT does nothing to help in this regard, because these are best when burned completely (turned into CO2, H2O, and N2), that makes them safe, but because they are still a carbon chemical, CaT or Carbon Taxes will still penalize the company or individuals. Therefore, there is no reason for companies to want to comply (since they are still paying either way).

3)Success of CaT programs.

My opponent points to the "success" of the 1990 CaT of SO2 (along with other chemicals). However, this is questionable, at best. Sure, we can see that SO2 emissions have dropped 32% over the next 11 years, and if we stopped there, we would be able to say "success." However, we do need to dig deeper on this. If we go look at the EU for the same time frame (from 1990 to 2001), we see that they dropped their SO2 emissions by 64% [4, page 6 through 11]. And if you look at emissions per capita (rather than total) they beat the pants off of us (we dropped 51%, they dropped 79%). They also looked at emission per GDP, but that only shows more of the same (EU beating out the US). The EU used simple emission controls, rather than CaT systems [4, page 2]. It should be noted though, that both the US and EU have estimated saved money on their efforts (the US saved an estimated $77 billion a year, and the EU saved an estimated $140 billion a year)

I will now go into my arguments.

1) CaT creates a fake product.

CaT creates "emission credits" to be sold and bought. These create massive problems because they are not real. They are nothing more than an economic game of musical chairs. Once the legislation ends and the music stops, whoever is left holding the "credits" is left with nothing. This also has the serious issue with companies being created for the sole purpose of selling off their "emission credits" as a prime source of income. Or creating sub companies that each get their own annual allowance from the government. This is part of the reason that the US did not lower emissions as much as the EU did. Companies are in business for money, so one of the first things they do with regulation, is look for loopholes. Some companies will find them, and water down the success of the program.

2) Carbon based CaT will not reduce dangerous chemicals.

Since we are talking about carbon in general, and not just hydrocarbons, there is no reason to burn them completely. Let us look at a simple device that is currently on pretty much every car on US roads, the Catalytic Converter [5]. The Cat converts dangerous chemicals (such as CO, HC, and NOx) into non-dangerous chemicals (H2O, CO2, and N2). A carbon based CaT will charge you for your carbon whether it is CO2 or CO or HC (hydrocarbons), even though CO2 is, by far, the least dangerous. Now, if you're getting charged regardless, there is no longer any reason to put a cat on a car (that should be quoted) since it only adds costs. By removing the incentive (since you're charged regardless because carbon is carbon), manufacturers will drop that expense and we will have less CO2 emissions, and have more CO and HC emissions (which are far more dangerous). Any element that is subject to CaT must have a safe form that is not subject to it (for the 1990's NOx, N2 was the immune gas). CO2 is the safest carbon gas after the burning process, so for CaT to have any effect, CO2 must be immune.

3) Other options allow for superior results.

As seen in [4], command and control emissions work far better. Rather than allowing companies and people to trade credits, simply create a ceiling and rules and have fees for going over them. We can see that from 2000 to 2009, coal energy production has increased by 22%[7][8]. The creation of incentives for better energy sources is a superior option than punishing the bad sources. Natural gas releases 179.5% more usuable energy per tonne of CO2 released than coal, or that it releases 64.2% less CO2 per MWhr [6]. Also, nuclear has no CO2 emissions in the energy generation process. Coal still produces 44.9% of the USA's electricity. Changing that to NG (which is currently cheaper than coal anyway), would remove almost 5 billion tonnes of CO2 per year from US emissions.

Thank you,

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov...
[2] http://www.un.org...
[3] http://www.ccohs.ca...
[4] http://ec.europa.eu...
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[6] http://www.debate.org...
[7] http://www.eia.gov...
[8] http://www.eia.gov...
Debate Round No. 2
Willoweed

Pro

1)I will agree that all emitters of emissions should be subjected to the policy and that we shouldn't make exceptions for certain groups, however I will maintain that a policy that makes a few exceptions for example exempting small emitters would be better than no policy at all.
The comparison of drunk driving of course doesn't equally compare to greenhouse gas emissions; however the same idea applies to both and that idea is that harmful activities should be reduced, and a burden should be placed on groups that do those activities.

2)Here ill post some sources of health impacts done by certain emissions (note that I am not just using CO2 but all emissions that contain Carbon)

http://scienceblog.com...
^Air pollution from cars, and factories linked to learning/memory problems and depression.

http://www.bbc.co.uk...
^Rising CO2 levels responsible for increase in hay fever.

Increases lung disease/COPD, from Carbon and other pollutants.
http://www.sciencedaily.com...
http://www.sciencedaily.com...

http://www.sciencedaily.com...
^Fine particle matter, nitrogen dioxide, sulfa dioxide linked to pneumonia

http://www.sciencedaily.com...
^Nitrous oxide and other air pollutants connected to appendicitis

http://www.sciencenews.org...
http://uk.reuters.com...
^Air pollution such as exhaust from cars and coal plants increases diabetes. Mice that inhaled real world concentration were more likely to have cardiovascular disease and have diabetes symptoms.
^
http://www.sciencedaily.com...
^Fine-particle pollution, or soot in the air increases obesity. Exposure to fine-particle air pollution early in life increases obesity rates even if you eat a normal healthy diet. Fine-particle air pollution also increases the chance of having unhealthy blood sugar levels. It does this by increasing inflammation of cells, which when inflammation occurs in fat cells in makes them retain more fat.

http://www.sciencedaily.com...
http://www.sciencedaily.com...
^Air pollution such as soot and smoke from power plants and automobiles can cause cardiovascular disease. Air pollutants such as soot and smoke below standards set by the EPA causes arteries to be 50% more blocked by plaque. Exposure to the air pollution also increased bad cholesterol levels, and blood pressure.

http://www.sciencedaily.com...
^Air pollution such as the pollution from cars, including greenhouse gasses increases the chance of NO2 having breast cancer. Women living in the most air polluted areas are twice as likely to develop breast cancer then women living in the least polluted areas.
Pollutants include NO2.

http://scienceblog.com...
http://www.sciencedaily.com...
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com...
^--Children exposed to above median levels of hydrocarbons (pollutants that are released into the air by the burning of fossil fuels) had lower IQ'es of 4.5 points.

http://www.naturalnews.com...
http://www.sciencedaily.com...
^Living near a freeway is associated with an increased risk of having children with autism.
Children born from mothers living near freeways are twice as likely to have an autism disorder.
Also exposure to mercury and other pollutants increase the risk of autism by 50%

http://www.sciencedaily.com...
^Mice exposed to vehicle pollution suffer brain damage.

3)Now I'll list other negative effects greenhouse gasses cause
1)An increase in waters acidity which results in lower fish/wildlife populations
2)An increase in grasshopper habitat and population which damages crops
3)An increase in mosquito habitat and populations which increase the spread of several disease such as malaria.
4)A sea level increase due to global warming.
5)Ozone depletion which allows more harmful UV lights etc .
6)Increase in tropical storms (100%), tornadoes (30%), floods (500%), droughts (300%), heat waves, wildfires(400-650%).
7)Decrease in crop/food yields (including a 20% drop in oyster populations, a 3.8% drop in corn yields, a 5.5 drop in wheat yields and a 15% drop in some rice yields) (note sources will be posted upon request.)

4)Here is my analysis of your argument that we should not have a Cap-and-trade (or an emissions tax). You don't oppose cap-and-trade because you oppose limiting greenhouse gas emissions, you oppose it because you find that "Europe's method," has better results. Given that we have SO2 for a decent example of the effects of both methods we should be able to determine which system is better, and you have. Europe's method clearly works significantly better. So basically right here I am conceding the debate, and will point out two more things.
1)Europe's method was a mandated reduction of the pollutant for all polluters.
2)Even though Europe's method worked better and should be put into place over cap-and-trade, cap-and-trade would still be better than having no policy.
Thank you for debating; I learned something and appreciated it immensely.
Ore_Ele

Con

My opponent states, "The comparison of drunk driving of course doesn't equally compare to greenhouse gas emissions; however the same idea applies to both and that idea is that harmful activities should be reduced, and a burden should be placed on groups that do those activities." This does not show that CaT is the right method for dealing with it, only that something should be done. As explained in my last round, a "drunk driving CaT" would be illogical and would not save any lives. This is why we have solid ceiling, if you go over, you get arrested, you can't go buy "intoxication credits" from your neighbor and continue on your DUI way.

That said, going over my opponent's sources, none of them address CaT. In fact, several of them support arguments that I've made. Since CaT is focused around Carbon, including carbon dioxide, there is no reason to spend resources to burn hydrocarbons into CO2 (this was made in my arguments, point 2). My opponent's sources show that hydrocarbons are far more dangerous to our bodies than CO2, and if companies have no reason to convert HC into CO2, then many companies will simply save the cost and let HC go into the air, and buy carbon credits to offset that. This will cause the air to become MORE dangerous.

As I also mentioned before, the only reason that the 1990 clean air act (which established CaT for NOx and Sulfur) was effective, was because sulfur was an unintended byproduct (whereas Carbon is a required byproduct) and because N2 was emitted from the regulations, giving companies a safe chemical to fall back on. For carbon based gases, CO2 is the safest and so would have to be excluded for any results to be seen.

I would argue that the effects of CO2 (and global warming) are exaggerated, however, regardless, if the effects truly are that bad, then the policy that yields better results is only more strongly supported.

As my opponent has said, "Given that we have SO2 for a decent example of the effects of both methods we should be able to determine which system is better, and you have. Europe's method clearly works significantly better. So basically right here I am conceding the debate, and will point out two more things," I'll end this round shortly.

In summary, CaT is better than no policy at all, however, if given a grade, it is more of a C-, while the European model would be given an A (probably an A-, but I'll be generous). Given this information, it is clear that there is no reason to adopt a CaT policy when a superior policy is available.

Thank you,
Debate Round No. 3
Willoweed

Pro

I'm just going to post the sources for the stuff that I posted earlier, and some others on the costs associated with negative effects of fossil fuels.

http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://en.wikipedia.org...
^On average there are 3 oil spills similar to size and damage as the Gulf Oil one in 2010, also there are on average 6 minor oil spills every single year. Meaning On average oil spills very conservatively will cost the world economy at least 250 billion every 10 years.

http://appvoices.org...
^ A Harvard study shows that Mountaintop coal mining increases health costs by 75 billion a year, or 9 times more than the benefits of the mining.

Tropical storms have increased by 100% because of global warming
http://www.newscientist.com...

Droughts. Droughts have increased by 300% since 1970 because of global warming.
http://www.ens-newswire.com...
http://www.ucar.edu...

Floods have increased by 500%
http://maps.grida.no...

http://www.agricommodityprices.com...
http://www.soyatech.com...
http://www.sciencenews.org...
http://www.sciencedaily.com...
http://www.google.com...
^Hotter nights/Global warming, and air pollution are linked to a 15% decline in rice yields.
^Farms produced 3.8% less corn, and 5.5% less wheat then they could of during 1980-2008 due to slightly higher temperatures. This increased corn prices by 6.4% and wheat by 18.9%.
^Global warming cost 21 billion a year in 2009 due to decreased corn yields.
^Global warming cost 40 billion a year in 2009 due to decreased wheat yields.
^Global warming cost 20 billion in the year 2009 due to decreased rice yields

http://www.spc.noaa.gov...
^Number of tornadoes has increased by 30% due to global warming.

http://www.ncpa.org...
^Global warming's increase in wildfires costs 1.2 billion yearly.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com...
^Global Warming has increased the odds of heat waves by 6 times.

http://www.sciencenews.org...
1^CO2 emissions killing off fish/water life due to CO2 making bodies of water more acidic. This is because CO2 + H2O ====> H2CO3

http://www.bbc.co.uk...
^Global warming responsible for increase in mosquito habitat and populations which has increased malaria and other diseases killing people and increasing health care costs. This is because mosquitos thrive in warmer weather
Ore_Ele

Con

Since my opponent has admitted that my proposed alternative is better than CaT, I will simply allow this debate to end.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 4
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Ore_Ele 5 years ago
Ore_Ele
Sources are requested for all claims.
Posted by RoyLatham 5 years ago
RoyLatham
Yes, new debaters should be aware that Pro as Instigator has the burden of proof. That means that assertions made without sources can just be denied, per "None of the facts my opponent claims are true," and Pro ultimately loses if sources are not produced.

A good place to start would be with a source that claims carbon dioxide or nitrous oxide cases autism.
Posted by Ore_Ele 5 years ago
Ore_Ele
son of a monkey, double posted.
Posted by Ore_Ele 5 years ago
Ore_Ele
Willoweed, would you like to list your sources in the comments? Traditionally, sources are added at the end of your arguments, but since you are new, it is expected that you might not be aware of the standard format. Please feel free to add links to your sources in the comments (though for future debates you'll want to remember to add them into the debate), especially the studies.
Posted by Ore_Ele 5 years ago
Ore_Ele
Willoweed, would you like to list your sources in the comments? Traditionally, sources are added at the end of your arguments, but since you are new, it is expected that you might not be aware of the standard format. Please feel free to add links to your sources in the comments (though for future debates you'll want to remember to add them into the debate), especially the studies.
Posted by Ore_Ele 5 years ago
Ore_Ele
I'm going to assume Poe's law there. But incase that is not the case, 1) I actually am against Cap and Trade, 2) I've never read anything by Al Gore (nor watched any movies made by him).
Posted by RoyLatham 5 years ago
RoyLatham
@Ore_Ele Arguing against cap-and-trade? Are you okay? Maybe if you read something by Al Gore you'll go back to your normal self.
Posted by Ore_Ele 5 years ago
Ore_Ele
FYI, I will be passing on my opening argument (allowing you to start), and will only be clarifying some things, but it will not be until Thursday evening or Friday morning when I get to this.
Posted by RoyLatham 5 years ago
RoyLatham
"cap-and-trade system" has a reasonably well defined common meaning, so that's what is used when the instigator gives no explicit definition.
Posted by Stephen_Hawkins 5 years ago
Stephen_Hawkins
The debate requires quantifiable levels. PRO could argue the cap should be a billionx10^8 to make sure it doesn't get out of control while not impeding on anyone.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by darkkermit 5 years ago
darkkermit
WilloweedOre_EleTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: PRO didn't even argue the resolution. Only that co2 is bad. CON demonstrates why cap-and-trade is ineffective.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 5 years ago
RoyLatham
WilloweedOre_EleTied
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro made no argument that CaT was better than a carbon tax for reducing carbon emissions. That effectively concedes the debate. Cons argument that converting carbon to hydrocarbons was disadvantageous was not answered. Many of Pro's references were irrelevant. "Pollutant" does not equate to nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide.
Vote Placed by mongoose 5 years ago
mongoose
WilloweedOre_EleTied
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Clearly, there was a concession. I gave sources to Con because all of Pro's sources were for the same type of argument, none of which helped his case against Con.