the government should not be involved in the energy market
The market, not the state, is the best determinant of which energy sources we as a society should use.
Hi Zak, I accept your challenge!
Contention I: Division of Ground and BOP
Resolution reads, "The government should NOT be involved in the energy market." "Involvement" has not been defined, but syntax indicates that we are dealing with a broad economic category, which includes but may not be limited to subsidies, loans, bailouts, and anti-trust laws. I also submit that "Not" dictates an absolute meaning: if Con can win at least some government involvement should occur (or one instance thereof), he has sufficiently negated the resolution. Likewise, Pro needs to justify why the energy market should be entirely laissez-faire.
A. American Consumerism and Global Warming
It should be no great revelation that a market predicated on consumption can reward convenience, myopia, and simplicity, and while profit motives largely drive technological innovation, they can just as easily retard it. For the last century or so, America has built an economy based upon the consumption of fossil fuels " in our factories, automobiles, and power plants. The American economy has accompanied a larger, global shift toward industrialization, which in some cases, like China, has occurred so rapidly that it poses immediate danger to environmental and human health.
The cost has been cumulative and severe: anthropogenic GHG"s (Green House Gases) have played a primary role in climate change. Global warming poses a significant threat not only on a national but also, a global level as its ill effects include flooding, super storms, drought, and loss of viable farming land.
As we edge closer to the point of no return, it must be imperative that we take steps to avoid further degradation. This can include government loans to green energy firms, tax credits to create cleaner fuels, or even imposing stricter regulations on GHG emissions (like a carbon cap and trade). My point is that the government should be involved in the energy market on a substantial level because many corporations will not take the appropriate steps to curtail their role in the damage. And, who can blame them? The infrastructure and market already exist for fossil fuels while technology for green energy is barely getting started. Outfitting a plant to capture C02 emissions from coal, for example, remains prohibitively expensive, and the mechanism for such a process is still being developed.
Product differentiation does not drive competition and innovation in the energy sector as other types of products and services. When Pro says that the market remains the best determinant for our energy portfolio, this does not take into account greater challenges and problems the market may not be capable of solving.
I am not advocating that the government can solve climate change, only that government involvement in the energy market, even on an incremental level, remains vitally necessary to a larger solution to the problem. I reserve time in my future rounds to provide evidence for anthropogenic global warming if my opponent challenges me on this point.
B. Government Involvement Succeeds
From rural electrification to micro antennas, the US government possesses a long, sophisticated list of successful interventions into private markets that have either helped supplement infrastructure or created materials used in consumer products. Calling to memory failures like Solyndra or political plays like funding corn farmers in Iowa cannot sufficiently rebuff so many present successes in other areas.
Compared to funding in other R&D sectors, current government investments in energy are a paltry sum, but even with meager efforts, the government has helped save clean energy jobs and provided necessary funds to keep research progressing. While there has been enormous political scrutiny of the government"s loan portfolio in recent years, the default rate on these green energy loans has been small, just under 4% at the end of 2011, which still falls under the rate Congress budgeted.
Lastly, I think it is important to mention that "success" from a governmental perspective should not just fall under conventional categories like market viability or profit potential. Governments must invest in defenses, protect public health, and preserve the environment for future generations and citizens. While global warming surely presents a very real and present threat, other environmental considerations should be taken into account when deciding whether the government should intervene in the energy market. The government has and should continue to penalize companies who excessively pollute and even more importantly, ban products that threaten public health (like leaded gasoline). Regulations of these types constitute "involvement" because in one way or another, they affect market prices, supply, and a host of other economic factors.
I think I have answered all of my opponent"s arguments from the first round in one form or another. But, since I have taken this time to lay out my initial arguments, I will spend more time extensively addressing my opponent"s arguments in future rounds.
Let me begin by summarizing the debate on global warming. Both government climate scientists and skeptics agree that warming is happening as a result of increased CO2 levels. Government scientists argue that as CO2 levels in the atmosphere double, you have a temperature increase of 1.1 degree's Celsius. Then there is a feedback amplification, wherein evaporation of water leads to more water vapor, which traps more heat and increases the temperature increase three fold.
Skeptics agree about the direct effect of CO (1.1 degree C increase for each doubling of CO2 level) but argue there is in fact a dampening feedback, as more evaporation leads to more water vapor, more clouds, etc.
So it should be a simple point of checking the data and seeing who is right, yes?
Climate models put forth by those who argue that man made global warming is going to kill us, specifically predictions made by the IPCC in 1990, estimate a .75 degree increase in air temperature. What does the data tells? The models were wrong. The average rate of increase is below even the lowest trend predicted by their models. But that doesn't matter to global warming alarmists - if the data doesn't fit the theory, then so much for the data!
Next we can look at Ocean temperatures.
Ever since Argo came online in 2003 Ocean temperatures have been flat, again contradicting the models put forth by those who argue the sky is in fact falling. The data doesn't match the theories, but despite that we are supposed to savage our economy, make gigantic sacrifices, impose new taxes and regulations... all on what? A hunch? A bogus theory?
Clearly since man made global warming is not real, since the models created by climate scientists do not match with reality, there is no justification for intervention in the market based on this non event.
There is no question that the government has done things which have benefited someone. Today the U.S. government spends over three trillion dollars a year; it would be impossible not to do some good with all of that money. This is not justification for intervention in the market. What right does the government have to use the threat of violence in order to get someone to spend money on something they don't want to spend their money on? This is the fallacy of omniscience, the idea that a government planner is in a better position to direct my resources than I am myself. On the market you are sure that businesses are satisfying consumer demands; if they are not they will surely go out of business. But what is to ensure the government is meeting consumer demands? There is nothing. When the state lends money to preferred businesses, this crowds out private lending (just as the state has no money of it's own, or no power of it's own, it has no credit of it's own). Everything the state has was taken, by force, from it's rightful owner.
As far as pollution is concerned, there is definitely a cause for action here, but this is not intervention in the market but rather the protection thereof. The market represents voluntary interactions between people. A polluter is not acting on the market but in fact invading another's property and should be stopped. The polluter is not a market participant (in this instance, of course they are no doubt when they are putting their products to market), no more than a thief breaking into your home is participating in a market of any sort. I agree that lead is a dangerous chemical and has no place in gasoline - again it's not intervention in the market to stop pollution, as aggression against another's property or their person is not a market activity but the means of a thug (and the state).
Should the government intervene in the energy market? Should they pick winners and losers? Should they subsidize 'green' energy or any other sort at the expense of other energy sources? No. The market and the price system which is derived from the interactions of producers and consumers is the best method for determing which energy sources are best suited to meet our energy needs. Subsidies are inherently political. What is the point of establishing an industry that can only exist through government support? Why should we subsidize the inefficient? If a form of energy is not economic without government support, then that is a clear indication that we should not yet be using that technology yet.
Contention I (cont.): Division of Ground and BOP
Pro accepts definitions and conditions for victory, so Con needs to only justify at least one instantiation of government “involvement” in the energy market to successfully negate the resolution. Pro’s primary argument against intervention hinges on the abstract concept that the government should not “pick winners and losers” but provides no terminal or material consequences for such an action. Remember, Pro must justify an entirely laissez-faire energy market.
Contention II (cont.):
A. American Consumerism and Global Warming
Overview: The evidence for anthropogenic GW is vast and comprehensive, draws from multiple sciences, and includes measuring exponential rises in sea levels, depleting ice masses, and increasing ocean acidification. As to opposed outright denying the causal link between CO2 emissions and GW, my opponent seems to contend that a type of warming occurs now, just on a much slower and smaller scale than what GW climatologists have predicted. I find this surprising since this effectively concedes the necessity for government intervention in the energy market at some point in time if the fossil fuel-based free market cannot change its production and consumption habits.
In any event, my task is thus to demonstrate the environmental damage from GHG’s is acute and cumulative. A common theme in my argument targets a critical error in my opponent’s data: his sets are simply too small to be scientifically significant. Positive temperature correlations reveal themselves with better data.
The dampening/amplification debate is not very relevant to the GW debate because even if cloud coverage and water vapor provide a slight dampening effect for heat, this does not contradict evidence for an overall rise in temperature and certainly does not say anything meaningful about the role of GHG’s in GW. Also, you cannot correctly induct dampening from temperature data.
More importantly, do not misunderstand Pro’s dampening/amplification data: the chart depicting a dampening effect represents what skeptics project, not what the data collected actually says. Moreover, his skeptics’ site does not source the chart. Experiments conducted by NASA suggest water vapor produces an amplification effect. For details: http://www.nasa.gov....
Air/ Ocean Temperature
First, GHG concentrations have exponentially risen in the last century with no known natural causes lying coincident with such a dramatic shift. The most convincing suspect remains, of course, increased emissions since the start of the Industrial Revolution. As per the proceeding chart, you should note the inset panels show the increase of GHG’s (C02, methane, nitrous oxide) since 1750. (For some reason, I cannot post more than two charts. You can find the chart at: http://www.ipcc.ch....) Also note: “radiative forcing” is defined as the difference between radiant energy received by the earth and energy radiated back into space. A positive forcing warms the system.
Second, GHG increases correspond to rising global air and sea temperatures. A causal link can be explained by the Greenhouse Effect and other climate mechanisms. I don’t have enough space to explicate the specific dynamics, but an explanation of the Greenhouse Effect can be found in any 6th grade physical science textbook.
Third, my data shows temperature shifts over the last 150 years for air and the last 60 for ocean while my opponent’s shows 22 and 9 years respectively. Both of these numbers are incredibly small for determining large trends, and surely they are ill fit for assessing climatologists’ predictions. Note: multiple colored lines represent data gathered from different studies; for a more in depth look, check my sources.
My first chart demonstrates an increase of 1.1 to 1.3 C. While an average rise of 1.1 C might seem insignificant, the Copenhagen Accord determined that reaching 2 C would create incredibly dangerous climate conditions, the beginning of which we might be seeing now. With the amount of GHG’s current in the atmosphere, even if we stopped producing emissions today, our planet would continue to warm. Also, given the exponential increase in GHG emissions and radiative forcing, it might only take 50-100 years to reach 2 C.
Fourth, while much of climate science is exact, some is not. What is the exact threshold for catastrophe? How much longer do we have? The debate over the answers to these questions persists, but precisely because there are no definite answers yet, we must act now to prevent future weather disasters like hurricanes, super storms, droughts, and massive flooding in coastal regions. Since climatological GHG effects are hard to roll back, the sooner we act to use green energy, the better chance we have to solve the problem.
B. Government Involvement Succeeds (cont.)
Government does not meet consumer demands
This remains precisely my point. Consumer demands are not a moral sanction, and sometimes the government must become involved in certain market segments when that market cannot act in the best interest of the people (because of convenience, price, short-sightedness, etc). Just because a citizen chooses to consume a certain product does not mean that habit is best for himself or his community. Furthermore, and more importantly, government has time and again shown that its funding can create independently viable segments of the market (microwaves, anyone?). As green technology progresses, the same may become of its market.
[Stopping/Regulating] pollution…is not market involvement.
First, banning a dangerous product, like leaded gasoline, is a direct market intervention and imposes a tremendous burden on businesses by legally requiring a change in product portfolios. The need for this kind of federal regulation alone demonstrates Con has met its burden, proving the necessity of government involvement in the energy market. Second, even when the government does not outright ban a product but regulates pollution, it can still be “involved” with that market, even incidentally. Take, for example, the EPA’s rule regarding mercury emissions for coal plants. When faced with these regulations, plants can either reduce total energy output (and thus supply on the market) or make expensive alterations to their equipment/ procedures (which, in turn, raises the price of the final energy product).
…crowd out private lenders.
Government does not crowd out lenders by giving loans to green energy firms. If private lenders were sufficient, the government would not need to intervene. Also, this seems a bit contradictory on Pro’s part since he advocates green energy is not totally and currently viable in a laissez-faire economy.
ZakYoungTheLibertarian forfeited this round.