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Binghamton Speech & Debate

Proposition: Clara Harding (Wood River High School) vs. Opposition: Hazuki Kido (Shorin Global)

Judge: Rikki Dascal (Binghamton University)

Resolution: THBT: An overriding ethical obligation to protect and preserve extraterrestrial microbial life and ecosystems should be incorporated into international law.

  • Clara Harding
    Clara Harding
    vs.



    Hazuki Kido
    Hazuki Kido
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    Speech Details

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    Posted at April 11, 2016 11:53:43AM EST by Clara Harding

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    This house believes that an overriding ethical obligation to protect and preserve extraterrestrial microbial life and ecosystems should be incorporated into international law. I am proud to uphold the proposition.

    The most important thing that we have to look at in today’s round is furthering scientific research. If we can research the microbial life found on other planets, we can learn about our own origins. If we are able to do this we can improve our own lives on Earth by helping to sustain the life on our planet.

    Before I begin I would like to provide a few definitions in order to clarify the round.

    Extraterrestrial is defined by Merriam Webster as coming from or existing outside the planet Earth.

    Microbial is defined by the Free Dictionary as: A minute life form; a microorganism

    Ecosystem is defined by Merriam Webster as everything that exists in a particular environment.

    Contention 1: Extraterrestrial Microbial LIfe Can Help Sustain Life on Earth

    Cockell, Charles. "How the Search for Aliens Can Help Sustain Life on Earth." CNN. Cable News Network, 04 Oct. 2012. Web. 04 Apr. 2016.

    In wanting to better assess whether life could be elsewhere, astrobiology has also set out on the more homely tasks of understanding how life evolved on the Earth, how life has persisted on our own planet for over three-and-a-half billion years and how it manages to thrive in extremes that to humans seem completely inimical to life. In uncovering the secrets of life's survival on the Earth, astrobiology has some found remarkably prosaic applications. The powder that works in your washing machine at high temperature functions because it contains proteins extracted from microbes that grow in volcanic hot springs. They were first found by scientists (who would today call themselves astrobiologists) seeking to know how life adapts to such primitive, searing surroundings. Yet, some of the most promising locations to search for ancient life on Mars are places where water may have been in contact with volcanic rocks, ancient hydrothermal systems where conditions may have been conducive to life. As astrobiologists dig and scrape in amongst the microbial inhabitants of Earth's most hostile environments to understand the possibility of life elsewhere, they learn things that have economic uses. The link between the search for extraterrestrial life and our Earth-based problems is not surprising, because fundamentally it is all the same thing -- understanding how life, whether us or microbes, can be sustained in the cosmos. A hypothetical microbe on Mars might need to adapt to live in a high temperature stream. A human on Earth needs to find a way to clean its washing at high temperature. Both are trying to make a living on a planetary surface and both are trying to do this as efficiently as possible without wrecking their living conditions. Both might find that they can share a common way of accomplishing these things. It isn't uncommon to find environmentalists who are in awed disbelief that we can be spending billions searching for life on Mars and space explorers who feel that a focus on environmentalism narrows the reach and vision of our civilization. Both groups of people are separately emboldened by their vision. Environmentalists understand the great challenges that lie ahead in dealing with a population of seven billion apes inhabiting a piece of rock a mere 12,500 kilometers in diameter; space explorers understand that if they achieve their vision, and establish a permanent human presence beyond the Earth, they will not only open new opportunities for knowledge and resources, but they will also enhance our civilization's long term chances of survival. Now, more than at any time, we need a unified vision. Astrobiology is a bridge between understanding our Earth and exploring space and it reminds us that both endeavors are not merely linked, but basically one and the same challenge. By exploring the origin and evolution of life on the Earth and beyond we learn things of practical benefit to living on Earth and settling space.

    Contention 2: Upholding the protection and preservation of extraterrestrial microbial species would aid us in furthering our scientific knowledge

    Subpoint A: Without this law we will be damaging microbial life

    Glaser, Sarah M. "NASA Astrobiology Debates Interview." Interview. NASA ASTROBIOLOGY DEBATES. NASA, 2015. Web. 05 Apr. 2016. Dr. Glaser earned a PhD in Oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and specializes in fisheries, food web ecology, and complex systems.

    G: Yes I think it’s very harmful if we're only talking about microbes I don't know if the question becomes an ethical one or not but certainly there is an argument that could be made that we have the prerogative to protect any form of life from extinction. I think that humans don't follow that prerogative here on earth. I think we wipe out species before we've even discovered them and some of those are vertebrate and invertebrate species that are much higher forms of life than microbes. But if you're talking about a planet that only has microbial life then you're talking about the highest form of life that exists on that particular planet and to take a risk of potentially wiping out a species given the way species interact with one another, given the way that keystone species and food webs are really critical to the function of an entire ecosystem, it could have consequences that go far beyond the extinction of that one species.
    If we just go into a planet without making any effort to preserve or protect the microbial life we could potentially destroy species and even ecosystems. This would ruin any chance of furthering our scientific knowledge using extraterrestrial microbial life.

    Subpoint B: We could still study extraterrestrial microbial life without damaging it

    Glaser, Sarah M. "NASA Astrobiology Debates Interview." Interview. NASA ASTROBIOLOGY DEBATES. NASA, 2015. Web. 05 Apr. 2016. Dr. Glaser earned a PhD in Oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and specializes in fisheries, food web ecology, and complex systems.

    G: I don't think that I would say that is the only way to preserve it. When I think of harvesting I think more of creatures that we are taking for resource consumption for ourselves like eating them for example which wouldn't be the case with microbial life. So in the case of microbial life, as far as harvesting goes, I don't think that we would be a risk to the survival of different species of microbes at least from a harvesting point of view. So if the question is whether the only way to preserve I guess I would have to say my definition of “to preserve” is that some of the species still exists so I would disagree with that statement and I think that there are ways humans could potentially interact with extraterrestrial life that could preserve those microbes, preserve the species, preserve the diversity.
    My opponent might try to say that by studying the microbes we will be damaging them further; however this is just not true. Dr. Glaser is a scientist at the University of Denver where she specializes in fisheries, food web ecology, and complex systems, so she provides a credible source that we have to look to in today’s debate. What this card is saying is that we can study the microbial life without damaging it. So we must have this law because it will stop us from possibly destroying the value of the species. Without this law in place to regulate that we could destroy all chance we have of learning from the life found on other planets, which could go as far as to help us sustain life here on Earth. With this in place we can still study and learn from the species while preserving their value.
    For these reasons and many more, you must uphold the proposition today. Thank you.

    In my speech I cut the cards that are seen in my case, so here you will see the entire cards. Please post your entire speech.

    Posted at April 12, 2016 08:28:38PM EST by Hazuki Kido

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    None available for this speech.

    Posted at April 14, 2016 12:24:20AM EST by Clara Harding

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    Koh, Harold Hongju. "Why Do Nations Obey International Law?" Yale Law School Legal Scholarship Repository. Yale Law School, 1997. Web. 13 Apr. 2016.

    Posted at April 15, 2016 10:13:57AM EST by Joe Leeson-Schatz

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    None available for this speech.

    Posted at April 15, 2016 10:31:22PM EST by Clara Harding

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    Status

    This match has been completed. Show the Decision.

    Submitted at April 17, 2016 11:49:10AM EST by Rikki Dascal

    Category Clara Harding Hazuki Kido
    Use of evidence: 4.5 1.5
    Delivery skill: 5 3.8
    Coherence of arguments: 4.7 3.9
    Responsiveness to opponent: 4.6 4.6
    Identification of key points: 4.5 4.2
    Comments: Good use of citations/evidence.

    However, there are a couple of times when you blindly dismiss an argument can't possible be true because then there wouldn't be a debate about it (in the proposition rebuttal). And in introducing the evidence in the rebuttal, it would have been more effective had you given a brief summary of what the article said earlier on.

    Nice job in responding to the arguments. I would have liked to see more of an argument about how this law would make scientific research more difficult (you start doing this, and your suggestions about resistance of the international community abiding by this law speak to this argument).

    The decision is for the Proposition: Clara Harding

    Reason for Decision:

    I am voting for the Proposition on the grounds that the possibility of ET microbial study will further scientific research and may help to sustain life on earth. There was no compelling reason raised throughout the round by the Opposition as to why it's more important to study/understand before creating international law.

    Good job everyone!


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