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Fracking Debate RFD

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10/19/2015 5:48:58 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
== Introduction ==

This is a forum post showing the RFD for the debate: The U.S. should restrict fracking. The link to the debate follows: []. My RFD is in a forum post due to character constraints within the RFD box, and to avoid getting my RFD lost deep within the comments of the debate, or to spam notification feeds.

== RFD ==

There were no significant -- or relevant -- differences with regards to conduct, S/G and sources. There's no real point in analyzing any of those, when there are no severe conduct violations, all the arguments are at least coherent, and there are some sources used by both sides to substantiate claims. There's no point in checking each and every source to determine the sources point; no severe conduct and S/G violations. Such points are quite irrelevant anyway. So I'm only voting on arguments.

1. Pro's arguments

A) The case

The case is vague. I don't understand what the advocacy is. Pro fails to elaborate on what "restrict" means. It's overly generic. The resolution seems to indicate a plan, but the U.S. already restricts fracking. It's the status quo. I'm feeling that there's no clear advocacy, no clear solution, problem, and solvency. Every argument on Pro's side misses the point of the case, and fails to address a few crucial links.

B) Environment

Pro argues that fracking is harmful to the environment. This is merely a link. There is no clear impact -- so what if the environment is harmed? What will happen? Why is it undesirable? The argument is insufficiently explained. For this, first we must understand what links and impacts are. A link is how an argument relates to the resolution. An impact is the core of the argument itself -- it answers "so what?" on presentation of the links. The environment argument is missing a link. The argument is basically:

1: Fracking is harmful to the environment (Link 1)
2: __________ [missing link]
C: __________ [missing impact]

The argument has no warrant for showing that "fracking should be restricted." It isn't explained properly or sufficiently. Debaters should present their argument in a way that a judge is a "blank slate." They should presume that every judge is tabula rasa (blank slate), i.e. has no outside knowledge of the resolution. Thus, voters -- under their obligation to act tabula rasa -- should significantly penalize unwarranted arguments. This argument is weak because of that.

Nonetheless, Con basically concedes that the environment is affected, and even seems to concede the impact (whatever that is). Con begins arguing something incoherent about climate change being political propaganda (which is an unsourced assertion), and then, contradicting themselves, says fracking causes a footprint in climate change. Pro sufficiently points out the harms of fracking to the environment. Pro demonstrates that Con's consensus-claim is simply false. Con later brings up *new* Arctic ice arguments in Round 3, but I can't vote on them, because debate convention dictates that new arguments can't be presented in the final round, as the opponent doesn't have a chance to respond to them. I must drop the Arctic ice claim.

Con doesn't argue anything around the impact, so I have to narrowly give this argument to Pro, based on the single link being sufficient for Con to implicitly concede an impact, and merely trying to (and failing) weaken the first link. The environment argument is (barely) sufficient to argue for some restriction.

C) Health effects

The health effects impact has some clear probability and magnitude to it. It's something I can actually vote on. And Con entirely drops this argument of Pro's, which Pro extends. Round 3 new arguments I discount, and -- in keeping with this -- I must award this victory to Pro. This is the strongest impact on Pro's side.

2. Con's arguments

Con's only clear offense is an argument on lack of energy resources. Con argues that -- for the U.S. to be self-sufficient in energy -- fracking must be allowed. Con provides (a) no source to back up this claim, (b) no clear magnitude; he doesn't show that a few *restrictions* will substantially reduce self-sufficiency, and (c) once more, fails to show that being self-sufficient in energy resources is necessary (missing impact and missing link). He basically says having friends entails ____________ (missing impact). To me, it seems more of a positive than a negative.

Pro largely fails to address any of Con's offense as far as this is concerned, but makes a rather crucial point that I must address. Pro argues that he is suggesting *restrictions* not *abolition.* He makes the point that Con fails to substantiate that even restrictions have significant damage, since the argument centers around "fracking is important." I have to agree with Pro. It severely reduces the efficacy of the link of the argument, but little of the impact still remains.

3. Impact Calculus

This is a problem with both sides. Neither side gives me any mechanism whatsoever to determine which impact is more important. While all the impacts are non-explicit, unclear and quite vague, both debaters implicitly accept that some impacts *exist* with all arguments. But these impacts aren't discussed -- or even touched upon -- throughout the entirety of the debate. The debaters neither discuss probability nor magnitude.

Pro is miles ahead on probability. Con's arguments are very vague when it comes to that. Con fails to justify the probability of *any* impact assuming some level of restriction when it comes to fracking. Pro shows that environmental destruction and GW are *highly probable* impacts, thus substantiating their offense. When it comes to magnitude, the health effects argument, which Con drops, clearly offers greater magnitude than any of Con's impacts. I can vote on that alone. The other impacts are magnitude-less (since the impacts are unclear, and are hardly discussed throughout the debate).

At this point -- based on the health argument -- the impact calculus is clear. I vote Pro.
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