Wednesday, September 5, 2012

PF 2012 Climate Change - Pro

For part 1 of this topic analysis click here.
For more on Public Forum topics, click here.

Pro Positions
Given the foregoing discussion in part 1 and part 2 of this topic analysis we can now begin to formulate some argumentation for the Pro case.  For many of you, this will be the first topic you debate.  So as a help to novices, I have decided to take a slightly different approach and more or less lay out step-by-step the elements which can be included in a Pro constructive speech.  Do not assume every Pro case will or should be constructed like this.  It is only a suggestion.  If you are a novice, you will want to work with your coach and senior members of your debate team to make the best possible case.

At the end of the day, the elegance of the case is not as important as your knowledge of the facts.  Learn all you can.  It is the best defense against the attacks of the Con.

Cause and Impact
Impacts in this case are important in my opinion.  There is plenty of evidence to describe the global impact of climate change which range from rising sea levels; flooded lands, including some island nations literally disappearing; droughts; monsoons; etc.  These impacts in turn are the causes which lead to a great deal of human suffering, dying, starvation, conflicts, and waves of refugees.  The stronger Pro can make these impacts, the better, so long as the case does not stretch beyond what is believable.

I also think, despite the natural temperature rise which has been ongoing for about 30,000 years, there is evidence to show anthropogenic (human) contributions in the form of so-called greenhouse gases are attributed to the sharp rise within the last 100 years or so.  Hopefully, Con will not challenge this, but if they do, Pro will find it necessary to let the evidence in favor of anthropogenic warming speak for itself.  For that reason, I advise my PF debaters to have enough expert evidence to carry through four speeches. (Note, I always expect PFers to have from two to four independent pieces of evidence to back up every claim.)

The purpose of this is show the judge the very simple cause and effect which demonstrates how current emission levels are triggering rapidly progressing changes in the climate which are currently having impacts and if unchecked, the impacts will worsen to the point of untold human suffering around the world in the very near future.  The key to good impacts are magnitude (the effect will be very bad), probability (the odds are really good this is going to happen if unchecked) and timeframe (its going to happen very soon - not the distant future). The better these points can be made, the better the impact, considering you will be debating in the nice air-conditioned safety of a public school, fairly well isolated from global tragedy.

The Policies of Climate Change
You may also consider the Pro should make the case current policies of developed countries result in unchecked emissions which are accelerating the climate change that will lead to human suffering.  The evidence is out there to back the claim, that current efforts to curb emissions at a national level have very little effect.  Look to some of the evidence on the Kyoto Protocol for this.  I have already shown evidence which says most nations are on track to meet their emission targets and yet there is no measurable impact and current actions are grossly inadequate. (see the CFR paper referenced in part 2 of this analysis)  In addition to curbing emissions, if should be argued that policies should be directed toward humanitarian relief, and damage control resulting from climate change.

The Moral Obligation Case
Finally Pro needs to make the case the developed nations have a moral obligation to do something about it.  For this, you can dive deeply into moral philosophy but I see little need to do so.  Especially since PF judges are typically not expecting deeply philosophical reasoning and most PF debaters, are generally not accustomed to debating at that level.  Practical reasoning will be more effective than conceptual reasoning.  The basic moral argument is, something we are doing is causing people and animals and life in general to suffer and die so we have a moral obligation to stop doing it.  That argument is easy to make and will be acceptable to virtually any judge of any culture, ideology, or propensity toward skepticism.

A Caution
I think it is easy to claim that individuals must do their part.  It is common sense.  But the focus of this debate is on national efforts which are more likely to have much bigger impacts versus, individual efforts.

Link to the Con debate

Following are a few sources with some samples of evidence:

By Nick Gier, Professor Emeritus, University of Idaho
Another way to look at the global impact of climate change is in terms of economic losses and reduction in Gross National Product. Sir Nicholas Stern, a World Bank economist, has estimated that for every degree of global warming there will be an average reduction of one percent in world GNP. But because of the fragile economies of third world countries, the economic impact there will be far worse. If nothing is done to stem global warming, Stern predicts that the world economy will suffer a permanent loss of 20 percent, with poorer countries suffering the most. A simple moral truth is that if you injure people or directly affect their livelihoods, then they are owed compensation. Even libertarians believe this. Arguing against President Nixon's proposal to create the Environmental Protection Agency, libertarians proposed that it would be more efficient for those injured by pollution to file class action suits in the courts.

A call to respect non-human life - in case you want to appeal suffering species other than humans.

Climate change and moral outrage
James Garvey
The Royal Institute of Philosophy, London, United Kingdom
Some countries on the planet — the richer, more developed, industrialised ones — have used up more than a fair share of the sinks and therefore caused more of the suffering which is underway and on the cards. If one thinks a little about fairness or justice or responsibility for harm, or the importance of doing something about unnecessary human suffering, then one will quickly be drawn to the conclusion that the rich countries have a moral obligation to reduce emissions. Maybe they should pay for a few sea walls in Bangladesh, possibly foot the bill for a bit of disaster relief, too. Zoom in on the thought that the developed world has a moral obligation to reduce its emissions. Its failure to do so is tied to human suffering. The fact that the world’s polluters have not taken meaningful action is an obvious wrong. It seems easy enough to see it.

Baha'i World News Service
Climate change creates moral issues, says panel
9 May 2007
Ambassador Sopoaga said the issues for nations like Tuvalu are particularly stark.

"The future will be catastrophic for all communities, for all countries, but particularly for those who have already been identified as particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change," he said, noting that some forecasts suggest that small island states will disappear entirely under the rising ocean.

"It is a moral obligation, beyond political obligation or economic obligation, to help countries like Tuvalu and small island developing states, and of course the least developed countries," he said. "We have to do something urgently."
Mr. Pradhan of the UN-OHRLLS said that the latest predictions indicate that small island nations would be "simply wiped out."

"This is the time to remind the international community that ethics and morality do play a very important role in any human activity, especially when we have a situation where climate change is affecting such a large number, especially the poor and vulnerable," he said.

International Obligations
By Nic Tideman
Moral people will recognize that their own well-being is no more or less important than the well-being of anyone else. This will lead them first to provide assistance to anyone in need. Thus a moral nation will provide assistance to nations that are impoverished, unless the institutions of those nations make such assistance counterproductive. While such assistance can always be provided by individuals acting independently, people may find it convenient to have their governments act for them collectively.

A just nation will make an effort to determine whether its past and current appropriations from nature of all sorts, and its other actions with other harmful effects outside its borders, cause the nation to owe something to others. If some responsible party is making a reasonable estimate of what the nation owes to others, a just nation will pay its assessment. If no outside party is making the calculation, a just nation will make its own calculation.


  1. if your opponent cannot prove any solvency, can their argument be dropped on that ground in the case of a moral obligation? or would you have to link DA's as well?

    1. I can answer your question, but I need a lot more clarification. For example, I assume by opponent you mean if the Pro cannot prove solvency but I am not sure who you think can drop the argument and who may have to link to DAs (I assume Con since DAs are neg arguments). Also, I assume the use of solvency cards, and DAs are used in PFD in the district in which debate. If so, its not typical elsewhere, but no problem because I understand those kinds of arguments. I would like you to email everydaydebate at gmail and clarify a little, then I will answer by email because I think the explanation can get fairly involved and I want to give you the clearest answer possible. Thanks.

  2. Can you make a page on the framework on this topic for both pro and con?

    1. I'll give it some consideration but I want to finish my PF Case theory series first.

  3. I don't understand how you set up that debate. I am a 14 year old novice and would like some help!

  4. My teacher told us to say: contention 1... contention 2.... yet you did none of that please explain your set up

  5. I admit, much of what I write is directed to more advanced debaters so sorry if it seems unclear to you. After looking at the topic analysis and trying to understand the terminology and various issues. there are many ways you can proceed. For example, create a Pro and Con list where on one side of the paper write the reasons to support the resolution and on the other, the reasons to reject it. Then, let's say you are making a Pro case, pick perhaps two or three very strong reasons. For example, let's say some strong reasons to support lessening the effects of climate change, 1. Because if nothing is done, changing weather will destroy the crops many nations need to survive and 2. Many people will be forced to leave their homelands. You can then set up a basic case like this:

    An intro -
    "After years and years of releasing high levels of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the developed nations have pushed the world to the brink of substantial climate change which will affect many nations and peoples throughout the world. Because these imapcts can potentially harm millions, my partner and I agree with the resolution, Resolved: Developed countries....blah, blah." (then you given you reasons as contentions -)

    "Contention 1 Changing weather patterns will destroy crops"
    (give all the reasons and evidence which support this claim)

    "Contention 2 Millions of people will be displaced causing hardship world-wide"
    (give all the reasons and evidence to support this).

    Perhaps a 3rd contention to drive it home:
    "Contention 3 Only developed countries have the resources to mitigate these effects on less developed nations."
    (reasons, evidence)

    (then conclude - )
    "For all these reasons and more we urge a Pro vote."

    Throughout, as you support your contentions you want to keep focused on how the developed countries have the moral obligation to lessen these problems.

    Basically you do the same with your Con case.

    All of the things where we talk abpout framework and such are really just observations you make prior to your contentions, somewhere in the introduction to kind of set up the reasoning why you feel developed nations have responsibility. If you don't make the observations, fine, the case can still stand on its own if you follow the ideas above, using your own words and reasons.

  6. This is really helpful! But just a suggestion, could you please change you're color theme, it's a little hard to read. Thank you!

  7. I've posted on Con a few times and you've been helpful, and I mean VERY helpful, so I'd like to post my pro case for some feedback.

    Outline: Climate change hurts agriculture, which results in economic loss and eventually downfall. I use the United States as a general outline of most developed countries and say that because of our fiscal policy, we have a moral obligation as a nation to help the economy, which climate change's effect on agriculture impacts. And lastly, multilateralism to solve the problems.

    Contention 1. Effects on agriculture
    1a. Ug99
    2a. Agricultural loss
    Contention 2. Obligations of fiscal policy
    Contention 3. Multilateralism

    I pretty much combine 1 & 2, and then 2 & 3. Multilateralism and fiscal policy- With all nations working together to solve worldwide problems through multilateralism, the US could pound fiscal responsibility into their heads, resulting in worldwide economical reconstruction.
    And I'm assuming you know of Ug99 for pro.
    Please tell me what you think!

    1. I don't know if there is enough info here for me to evaluate your idea, so I will just throw some thoughts at you based on the limited clues you have given me. The case seems very much policy-like in its contentions. You identify a harm (yeah, I had to look up Ug99) then it seems U.S. fiscal policy is the solution which is implemented by adopting a multilateral plan of fiscal responsibility enforced by U.S. -uh- soft-power (or maybe hard-power since many consider money to be as effective as weapons as an instrument of hard-power). When you say, "economic reconstruction", it sort of suggests, there is going to be a collapse arising from climate-change augmented, massive crop failure so the U.S. is obligated to lead a multilateral effort to rebuild the economy. Even if I have failed to properly interpret your idea, I suggest there be consideration whether the case is directed toward mitigation of effects (reducing the causes and impacts) or adaptation (living with the effects and adjusting to their aftermath). Also, the link to the "moral" obligation should be clear.

  8. what do you think about running a speech that isn't structured as specific contentions? too uncertain for this topic?

    1. The only reason for "structuring" the speech into outlined contentions, is to make it easier to flow and keep organized from a 'debate mechanics' point of view. If you decide to a use more narrative style, like a story-telling style or like an original oratory it still works. I have judged rounds in which debaters used that style. Regardless, you are very likely to present some kind of contentions within the body of your oration, so it can still be debated and judged.

  9. Would this be a hard format for lay judges to understand? You know how many public forum judges are, I'm worried it will turn them off.

  10. The fact you are concerned seems to suggest you should use a structured style and I will say, on some occasions, when I heard narratives it was harder to sort out the main premises. I do recall one time, I had no particular problems, but the opponents were completely befuddled. The narrative team won that debate. I think the styles can be merged. Consider any speech made in domestic extemp. Often one hears a narrative style something this, " I will clarify my point of view with three main points of analysis. First, the ...blah, blah.... Second, ...blah, blah... and finally, ...yadda, yadda." This format kind of combines the traditional debate with the traditional narrative and provides a nice way for the judge to keep it straight.

  11. ah perfect im going to do just that thank you


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