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A Hypothetical Debate

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Suppose it was your assignment, dear reader, to set up a debate for some conference about "Crude Oil Consumption in the United States."

Your debate, as part of that conference, would have to involve two reputable figures, two distinct points of view on that subject, and one proposition, on which your speakers would take respectively a "pro" and a "con" position.

What kind of speakers might you look for, and what kind of proposition could best express the opposition you'd be trying to bring out?

There are lots of approaches one might take of course....four occur to me.

1. Resolved: that in five years, the consumption of crude oil, per capita, will be greater than at present.

2. ... that in five years, the consumption of crude oil, overall, will be greater than at present.

3. ...that in five years, much of what is now accomplished through burning crude oil, or other carbon fuels, will be accomplished by alternative means.

4. ... that in five years, the inflation adjusted prices of crude oil and of its chemical derivatives, (gasoline, fuel oil, etc.) will be lower than they are at present.

Any of these might work to set up a fascinating debate, looking at different aspects of the question.

Why focus on the five year time horizon? Because that is a convenient proxy for the difference between talk of an upcoming tipping-point and talking in very speculative terms of flying cars and jet packs in the world of Tomorrowland.

Since the point is to set up a hypothetical pro/con debate, I'm indifferent as to whether the valence of any question is reversed. For example, "greater" could be changed to "lesser" in each of the first two questions, to turn the "pro" side into the "con" side. For the third question "only a little" might be substituted for "much" to the same effect.  Doesn't matter. These seem likely to be fruitful axes of debate.

I'd be very happy to hear comments from my faithful readers, and perhaps other questions in resolution format.



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