December Topic Area
The resolution for December will be chosen from the area of US energy policy, specifically energy conservation and "green" energy sources.
The specific resolution to be debated and a packet will be distributed at the tournament as usual.
We are conducting an experiment to see if students will use the time between now and the tournament to do background reading in the topic area to better prepare themselves and to understand the issues. We expect that this will make it easier for students to absorb the packet, and lead to better cases and higher quality debate.
Note this does not change any of the rules regarding research materials at the tournament. At the tournament, students will be limited to the material in the packet, a dictionary, an almanac and a copy of the Constitution, as usual. They will not be permitted to bring any of the materials that they may have consulted prior to the tournament or any notes they have taken on that material. Students should be encouraged to read widely in the topic in order to develop an understanding of the issues, rather than reading to collect evidence to support specific arguments.
Please email us if you have any questions or comments. We will ask for comments from you and your debaters after the tournament in order to evaluate whether we should try this again in later tournaments or later years.
Below are a number of references that may be of use to you. You should not assume that any particular article will be relevant to the actual resolution you will receive on December 10. On the other hand, do not be surprised if some of the articles appear in the packet.
You are encouraged to share research material. There is no honor in winning a debate against an uniformed opponent. If you come across additional materials that you think would be of use to debaters, please email the reference and it will be posted here.
Wikipedia articles can often serve as a good introduction to a topic. Like any source, it may contain elements of bias. But it will also often contain references to original sources that can accessed for more detail. The following entries are particularly relevant:
The New York Times
The New York Times is one of the best newspapers in the country. It is now a subscription site, but non-subscribers get a certin number of articles per month for free as a teaser. You may have to register with a valid email address to get access. Your school or public library may also have access.
- Re-election Strategy Is Tied to a Shift on Smog 11-16-11
- Randy Smith, the coach at Joel Barlow, alerted me to a great article by Paul Krugman from 2010. Krugman is a Nobel Prize winning economist and columnist for the New York Times. It´s a fairly long exposition of the economic issues in energy conservation and global warming, but well worth your student´s time:
Building a Green Economy, Paul Krugman, New York Times Magazine, April 7, 2010
The New York Times: Room for Debate
The New York Times web site runs a series called Room for Debate which features a different topic every day. A group of experts and interested parties write short articles about the issue, often from conflicting points of view. It is a useful resource not only to learn about particular controversies, but also if you are in need of a quick practice debate topic. Debates this year relevant to December's subject area include:
- We Found Oil! Is That Good?
- Are Oil Pipelines Safer Now?
- Why Is the US Losing the Green Race?
- What If Republicans Closed the EPA?
- The Age of Anthropocene: Should We Worry?
- Can the Planet Support 10 Billion People?
- The Politicized Light Bulb
- What's Behind the Spike in Oil Prices?
Slate is an e-magazine entirely on the web. It is owned by The Washington Post Group. It primarily presents articles written by a large staff of columnists, often on controversial subjects.
Slate: Future Tense
The Future Tense section of Slate is a collection of articles on science and technology.
- What Will Turn Us on in 2030?
- Our Incredibly Dull Energy Future
- From Dung to Solar Power
- Don't Count Oil Out
Slate: Project Syndicate
Project Syndicate is a collection of commentaries on economics and technology.
Bjorn Lomborg is a Danish scientist.He is the author of the Skeptical Environmentalist and director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center. He has been critical of what he feels have been poorly thought out prescriptions to the world's problems. He is a regular contributer to Slate under the Project Syndicate series of articles. This is his Slate author page. Some recent articles of interest:
- Empty Green Promises
- A Dim Bulb of an Idea
- Unholy Green Alliance
- The Myth of Energy Security
- Yes, Nukes
- The Ethanol Catastrophe
- Green Smoke Screen
- Cooler Heads Prevail
The Economist is probably the best weekly news magazine in English, if not the world. It is a subscription site, with limited access to non-subscribers. Your public or school library may have access.
- Why Firms Go Green
- Climate Bonds: A Dull Shade of Green
- The Green Enigma
- Solar Power: A Painful Eclipse
- Economist Debates: This house believes that subsidising renewable energy is a good way to wean the world off fossil fuels.
US Department of Energy is the cabinet level department responsible for US energy policy. It has material on all aspects of energy party.