Debaters take sides on fossil fuels
Published: Friday, September 7, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
Two coaches from the SMU debate team alongside director of debate and chair of the communications studies program Ben Voth, held a public debate at the Hillcrest Foundation Amphitheater in the back of Caruth Hall on Tuesday evening.
The purpose of the debate was to present the two sides of an issue being talked about by many American economists and environmentalists: Should America produce fossil fuels domestically or make the transition to renewable resources.
Coach Tim Glass, who argued the affirmative, said that fossil fuel production within the United States is a good idea based on four main principles: fossil fuels are the leading source of energy today, the transition to renewable energy is inevitable but not yet obtainable, fossil fuel production must be used for specific and clearly defined reasons.
Lastly, it’s preferable to produce domestically rather than relying on other countries.
Glass also believes that drilling on our own soil creates jobs for the American people and will in turn build the U.S. economy.
“More research, more development, better systems — that’s more jobs, that’s more investment, that’s better for the economy,” Glass said.
In arguing against fossil fuel production in the United States, coach Lauren Sabino posed questions about the sustainability of the jobs that Glass mentioned as well as the extreme dangers that the American people could face if there were to be drilling on our shores.
“A transition to renewable energy is inevitable,” Sabino said. “If we begin to drill in the U.S. and eventually transition to renewable energy, all of the people that got jobs in domestic energy production will automatically be out of jobs once we transition.”
Sabino said that the energy that the United States could produce is not readily usable and it would be very expensive to fund the resources needed to convert the domestic fossil fuels into a usable form of energy. The process of obtaining the fossil fuels is incredibly dangerous in itself.
“Fracking, transporting tar sands through pipelines and drilling underwater are all extremely dangerous,” Sabino said. “Fracking not only causes earthquakes but it contaminates the groundwater. Drilling under the ocean causes oil spills that are down so deep that we can’t flood them in time so they just spill and spill for months.”
Before the coaches gave their concluding arguments, Voth encouraged members of the audience to give their opinions on the subject.
Junior Brie Strickland said that she’s in favor of offshore drilling because petroleum is one of the leading trading assets in the global market and America should produce its own.
“I think that something that’s really important for America to have is independence,” Strickland said. “We don’t want to depend on anyone for anything.”
Katie Siegner, who has recently graduated from Middlebury College and is now working for an environmentalist organization called Green Core Co., said that she agrees with Sabino because she thinks that the quicker Americans can transition away from fossil fuels the better.
Siegner says that the transition to clean energy is more urgent than a lot of people think.
“It’s pretty urgent,” Siegner said. There are graphs that show that there can be two degrees Celsius of warming in global temperatures before irreversible impacts happen and we’ve already warmed the globe one degree Celsius.”
“It’s pretty terrifying. We need to not only stop exploration we need to roll back the usage of fossil fuels. “
Voth ended the debate by allowing the members of the audience to cast their votes on a ballot and he extended the invitation to students to come to SMU debate team meetings which are held on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. in Umphre Lee room 247.
They did not, however, declare a winner.