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Binghamton Speech & Debate

Proposition: Michael Todd (Wood River High School) vs. Opposition: Ryan Elder (University of Michigan-Flint )

Judge: CV Vitolo-Haddad (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

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

  • Michael  Todd
    Michael Todd

    Ryan Elder
    Ryan Elder
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    Posted at April 12, 2016 04:55:59PM EST by Joe Leeson-Schatz



    None available for this speech.


    This match has been completed. Show the Decision.

    Submitted at April 13, 2016 10:30:32PM EST by Joe Leeson-Schatz

    The decision is for the Proposition: Michael Todd

    Reason for Decision:

    The opposition did not post their video by the deadline, resulting in a forfeit. If this was done in error, please contact us asap.

    1 Comment

    My propisition is located below.

    Michael Todd

    Proposition: NASA TOPIC


    Investigations and further exploration of our solar system requires an ethical understanding of the preservation, protection, and conservation of microbial life according to interests affiliated with NASA. I propose the following resolution; Resolved: An overriding ethical obligation to protect and preserve extraterrestrial microbial life and ecosystems should be incorporated into international law.


    1.) The resolution is relevant to the preservation of microbial species not how the exact initiatives required from this moral obligation will be mitigated
    2.) Understanding the importance of protecting and preserving microbial species is imperative towards a resolution
    3.) Pragmatic considerations regarding the protection and conservation of microbial life is relevant and should be evaluated to benefit a sustainable resolution.
    Why extraterrestrial microbial life and ecosystems should be protected must be supported by an overriding ethical obligation. However, reason towards protecting extraterrestrial ecosystems should not only embody our overriding ethical obligation, but rather the further expansion and colonization of space.


    International Law- a body of rules that control or affect the rights of nations in their relations with each other Merriam Webster Dictionary
    Microbial life- an extremely small living thing that can only be seen with a microscope Merriam Webster Dictionary
    Microbial- Relating to a microbe or to microbes
    Microbe- a microorganism, especially a pathogenic one such as a bacterium, protozoan, or fungus. adj., adj micro´bial, micro´bic.
    Astrobiological- The discipline concerned with all aspects of human and terrestrial biology as affected by extraterrestrial travel, and any and all aspects of extraterrestrial biological systems.
    Extraterrestrial- coming from or existing outside the planet Earth Merriam Webster Dictionary
    Obligation- an assumed or assigned duty imposed by promise, law, contract, or society; the binding power of a vow, promise, oath, or contract.

    Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing. S.v. "microbial." Retrieved April 19 2016
    Astrobiology. (n.d.) Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary. (2012). Retrieved April 19 2016
    Obligation. (n.d.) Mosby's Dental Dictionary, 2nd edition. (2008). Retrieved April 19 2016
    Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2016.
    Meltzer, Michael. "When Biospheres Collide: A History of NASA’s Planetary Protection Programs." Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2016.

    Contention I: Preservation of Microbial life and Ecosystems

    Subpoint A: Interplanetary Contamination

    From the time that humans first began sending spacecraft out from Earth, the possibility has existed of forever changing the extraterrestrial environments that we visit. According to “When Biospheres Collide: A History of NASA’s Planetary Protection Programs” (a book describing elaborate initiatives towards protection from interplanetary contamination), “If we irrevocably alter the nature of other celestial bodies, we compromise all future scientific experimentation on these bodies and may also damage any extant life there. By inadvertently carrying exotic organisms back to Earth on our space- ships, we risk the release of biohazardous materials into our own ecology.” Thus, we must consider the expansion of the human race in future attempts to colonize extraterrestrial frontiers. How we as a race approach colonization on different planets will affect the outcome of our research to create and synthesize new innovations that could (if cautioned) possibly support the creation of cures from viral diseases on our own planet. If we do not prioritize the “conservation status” of astrobiology (and the life it regards), we are not only decimating our possibility of discovery, but we are destroying any chance to further benefiting from unique ecosystems. According to the branch of science in which includes the possibility of discovering life on other planets or in space (exobiology), ecosystems (or planetary environments) with biodiverse chemical and elemental structures can enable our understanding of the universe and its biological life to expand. We could ultimately enhance as a species along with the ability to perceive the mysteries applicable to the development of our own ecosystem and the possibility of helping our planet enhance its lifespan.

    Contention II: Beginning Exploration in Mars

    Subpoint A: Protecting Martian Ecosystems

    Releasing potential microorganisms and other microbial life into the extra terrestrial ecosystem of Mars could result in a biological disaster. Ethically, further engaging in our search for life should not be prohibited but enforced by a mutual understanding of safely monitored exploration and respect for the unique Martian environment. According to Rodrigo Ledesma Aguilar, a Senior Lecturer in Physics and Electrical Engineering from Northumbria University/Newcastle, “The prospect of a potential biochemical and ecological clash between Earth and Martian [micro] organisms would be the most complex problem so far seen by biologists. Introducing alien species to an indigenous environment could lead to significant adverse effects on the stability of the ecosystem and much like conservation work on Earth, we would have to address the issue of planetary protection.” Thus, enabling a protected system under International Law could prevent such occurrences and allow more safe and modified procedures towards exploration.


    An overriding ethical obligation is the reason as to why we should protect and conserve extraterrestrial organisms, although the logical analysis regarding specifically why is not completely guided by an obligation. As a race which has been influenced by the desire to expand in territory, dominion, and colonization we must not confuse our own ambitions to be evaluated through our own self interests. Our progression towards a resolution (involving an equally beneficial outcome) should be designated by executive decisions and bio sustainable alternatives rather than the initial benefit of humankind. If we decide to affirm the resolution, we do not only look towards the discovery of extraterrestrial life alone, but instead towards the wellbeing and continuation of our knowledge and research and how that may also sustain microbial life. Space is a boundary that we are traversing, and life (no matter its form) holds the biological information needed to continue our exploration of the universe and the protection and ecological sustainability of our planet. Our exploration of future celestial systems should be mitigated with the intention of sustaining life and venturing into the cosmos through the action and enforcement of international law.

    - Michael Todd on April 19, 2016 at 08:23AM EST

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