Please select a debate issue within the first two weeks!

Overpopulation

Take a position on any of these alternative views regarding overpopulation (use any relevant source).

1. Is the high birthrates in less-developed countries the cause of poverty or is it the poverty that causes high birthrates in these countries?
Read Sarre and Blunden, 1995

2. Do you think the best way to improve the condition of women in lesser-developed countries is to improve their general economies, or that economies will not improve until the status of women improves.
Read Ornstein and Ehrlich, 1989.

3. Do you think that any form of birth control is morally correct (is it really a moral issue?), and do you think that governments should be involved in any way, either mandating, supporting, or preventing the practice of birth control by individuals?

4. Do you think that industrial countries should provide aid to lesser-developed countries if those countries do not make efforts to control their own population growth?
Read: Ornstein and Ehrlich, 1989, Hardin, 1993, and Sarre and Blunden, 1995.

5. What are the pros and cons of the limited open-door immigration policy of the United States as a way of international resource sharing and wealth distribution?

6. The low birthrates and increased life expectancy in the more-developed countries result in a high proportion of old people. In contrast, the less-developed countries have a large proportion of young people. Suggest ways to mitigate the potential socioeconomic problems related to these demographic conditions.

7. A growing imbalance beween population size and available water supplies is eliminating the option of food self-sufficiency in more and more countires.
Read: Water for Food Production, By: Sandra Postel, 1998, Bioscience, v. 48, no. 8, p. 629-637.
Alternative view: Countries wothout such problems should not care about these inefficient countries!

8. An increasing population, more advanced technology, and rising pollution levels are all contributing factors to changes in the Earth's atmosphere.
Read: The Verdict (Almost) In, by: Carl Zimmer, .1996, Discover Magazine.
Alternative view: The changes in the atmosphere are real;y figments of imagination; they don't exist

References:
Harper, C.L., 1996. Environment and Society: Human perspectives on environmental issues. Prentice Hall.
McConnell, R.L., & Abel, D.C., 1999. Environmental Issues: Measuring, Analyzing, and Evaluating. Prentice Hall.
Rogers J.J.W., & Feiss, P.G., 1998. People and The Earth - Basic issues in the sustainability of resources and environment. Cambridge Univ. Press
Boucher D.H., 1999. The Paradox of Plenty. Food First Books.


Energy Resources

1. Given the current state of fossil fuel reserves, politics, prices, and environmental drawbacks, is it better for us to:

  • Seriously consider transferring to alternative energy resources (i.e., put extra effort to legislate as well as making them marketable), or
  • Continue with the same resources but improve our energy efficiency over the next 30 years.

2. You live in an oil-importing country. What do you think should be done?
· Nothing. Your countries economy is strong enough that you can continue to import.
· Reduce the use of oil by developing alternative energy sources, particularly for automobiles and other forms of transportation.
· Invade a country that has abundant reserves. We are not suggesting this, however, this has been done (invasion of Iran and Kuwait by Iraq), or suggested by Rand Corporation to the US to invade Saudi Arabaia
Read Hunt (1979), and Shell Oil Co., 1983; American Petroleum Institute (annual) coal - Gordon (1987).

3. Are you opposed to nuclear energy because reactors are dangerous and produce dangerous waste?
Are you in favor of nuclear energy because it releases us from dependence on oil and coal, and much of the industrial world already depends on it? Read Rhodes (1986) and Mounfield, 1991.

4. If the industrial countries can maintain their present standard of living only by producing toxic waste and/or by distributing hazardous pesticides, then which of the following attitudes is closest to yours?

a. We should continue our present industrial economy because pollution from hazardous chemicals is not high enough to be serious.

b. We should continue our present industrial economy because new technologies will soon enable us to reduce emission of toxic chemicals without affecting economic productivity.

c. We should reduce emission as much as possible even if it means a decline in our standard of living.

5. How much energy, and what type of energy sources, do you expect to use 25 years from now?


Ground Water Pollution

1. Which of the following policies on groundwater extraction would you prefer?
Read: Shaw (1983), Mather (1984), Smith (1989), Kromm and White (1992), Price (1996).

a. Ignore environmental degradation and continue groundwater extraction until there is nothing left to pump.

b. Let the price of groundwater rise, thus presumably reducing water use, and use some of the money to restore the environment and to do research on methods of water conservation.

c. Require action by local and national governments to restrict groundwater use and, hopefully, begin to replenish aquifers.

2. Do you or your community use more water than you should? If so, how might you or the community reduce this use?

3. If water resources are scarce, should they be allocated by the free market, with people and businesses who have the most money getting the water that they want, or by government allocation (rationing)?

4. What should people do if they discover that their community, state or province, or country is using more river water than is really available?

5. Do you know of any water-allocation laws affecting you, your community, or your country that you think should be changed?

Please do not choose the following!

Earthquake Hazard

1. Regardless of where you live, have you or your government spent enough time and money to investigate the earthquake hazard and to prepare for the possibility of an earthquake?

2. Regardless of where you live, have you or your government spent enough time and money to investigate the tsunami hazard and to prepare for the possibility of a tsunami?

3. Who do you think should pay for disasters?
a. Federal or local government pay everything out of tax money.
b. Individuals and businesses pay for everything, either out of their own funds or from private insurance policies. (In this case, should insurance companies be required to write policies for risks that they do not want to cover?).

Global Warming
1. One team's stand should that gobal warming is farce; it is not happening. The other team should take the opposing view, that it is real and happening.
Ozone Depletion
2. Is the depletion related to human activity? Is there any hole in the ozone? One team should take the view that there is no such thing as ozone depletion, and the other team should prove that it is happening.
Mineral Resources
1. Do you think your local, state (province), or federal government should devise, some way to reduce the risk of searching for mineral resources? if so, what?
Shorelines

1. Regardless of where you live, have you or your government spent enough time and money to investigate the problem of coastal erosion and prepare for many difficulties that it will cause. What should you do?

Read: Kaufman and Pilkey (1983); Bird (1985).

Soils

1. Given that industrial countries maintain a high standard of living for their citizens by manufacturing and use of industrial chemicals and pesticides/herbicides as well as generating large quantities of electricity and nuclear power, which of the following policies would you approve of?

a. Continue with the current policies since there is no solid evidence that it is causing any serious environmental problems.

b. Continue with the current policies because new remediation technologies will soon enable us to reduce emissions of toxic chemicals without affecting economic productivity.

c. We should reduce emissions, and recycle as much as possible even if it means a decline in our standard of living.

2. Human-generated radioactive emission is a part of living in an industrial society, but in view of accumulating nuclear waste, and disposal problems we need to make some choices in near future. Which of the policies would you adopt?
a. Shut down all nuclear reactors, so we do not generate any more high-level waste. Leave the accumulated waste on site until a safe and economic disposal solution is found (need to indicate how would you make for 10% electricity shortfall due to this policy).

b. Continue with current trend and reactor work, but require federal and local legislation to find high-level waste repository (the current U.S. policy).

c. Permit production of nuclear waste only by organizations, or business that can prove they are able to safely dispose of their waste (need to indicate how you plan to enforce the requirement).



Volcanic Hazard

1. Regardless of where you live, have you or your government spent enough time and money to investigate the volcanic hazard and to prepare for the possibility of an eruption?

2. Who do you think should pay for disasters?
a. Federal or local government pay everything out of tax money.
b. Individuals and businesses pay for everything, either out of their own funds or from private insurance policies. (In this case, should insurance companies be required to write policies for risks that they do not want to cover?).

Other Topics (or add your own topic)

  • Slope instability
  • Floods
  • Energy use and conservation
  • Global climate change
  • Greenhouse effect
  • Waste and pollution
  • Acid rain
  • El Nino
  • Deforestation
  • Acid Rain
  • Desertification
  • Add your own topic (related to environment and people)!