Preparing for the Great Geritol Solution Debate

1. Note to Instructor:  The assignment below is based on a real classroom example of the position statement adopted by the class.  If you were doing this debate activity in your own class you could either:
1)  have students choose a position they wish to defend from those listed below.  If you do this, then you would provide teams with these positions at the end of Part 2 of the problem.
2)  fill in the positions that teams from your class developed on their own at the end of Part 2. 

Option #1 works well if time is limited.  Option 2 is of course more student directed, and provides them with the more authentic experience of having to develop a clear, concise, but comprehensive postion to defend.

Together as a team develop a DETAILED outline of an opening statement summarizing and justifying your teams’ position on Geritol solution issue.  Your statement should argue, and justify the position your team developed at the end of Part II of the problem, and should use/describe/explain biological knowledge, relevant evidence, and other information to defend your stance.  You should also argue against other sides of this issue.  Your outline should NOT simply list topics you want to discuss, but should elaborate on them IN DETAIL.  For example, if you were discussing one of the  ocean iron fertilization experiments (i.e. IRON EX I), you should briefly but clearly  discuss the methods, results and conclusions of the experiment and how they support your debate position or refute others.

Here is a summary of the positions developed by the class:
  1. Because global climate change is likely to have significant negative impacts on the health of living systems on the planet, and societies will continue to remain dependent on fossils fuels, we must act quickly.  The Geritol solution has significant potential to curb global climate change so we should implement it on a large scale combined with thorough monitoring of its impacts on climate change and other potentially impacted ecosystems. The benefits are great, and we can mitigate the risks by teaming government scientists with private companies to monitor this large scale process closely.
  2. We simply do not have enough information right now to decide whether or not the Geritol solution would work, nor do we know enough about the potential environmental risks of implementing this solution on a large scale.  So, we should continue to study it on a smaller scale in order to decide whether the potential benefits to combating climate change outweigh the risks.  By using the best scientific minds to study the Geritol solution on a small scale, we will eventually be able to understand its large scale effects.  Until we know enough about the large scale consequences of OIF, we should not allow private or commercial OIF.
  3. We should not attempt the Geritol solution on a large scale because it is unlikely to have a significant impact on global climate change.  The current evidence suggests that large-scale ocean iron fertilization simply will not draw enough CO2 from the atmosphere to effectively combat global climate change.  Moreover the risks of significant disruption of ocean ecosystems are unknown but potentially large.  We recognize the urgency of the global warming problem, but we need to consider other solutions, which we will recommend in our opening statement.
  4. We should not attempt the Geritol solution on a large scale even though there is a strong probability that it could have at least have some impact on curbing global warming.  The risks of significant disruption of the ocean ecosystem (energy/nutrient cycles, food-webs etc...) because of large-scale ocean iron fertilization is simply too great.  Moreover, small scale experiments with OIF are unlikely to reveal the potential negative consequences of large scale OIF.  Global climate change is a huge problem, but the potential risks of OIF simply outweigh the minimal benefits.  We need to consider other solution such as reducing fossil fuel consumption by switching to alternative energy sources (wind, solar etc...).
Assignment Guidlines
  • Use the research resources to help you construct your outline.
  • DO NOT divvy up different research areas of the problem and then email them to one person on the team to combine into an outline.  Instead, do your research on this problem independently and then come together as a team to develop your opening statement.  REMEMBER...I will choose one person randomly from each team to give the team's opening statement, so everyone must be knowledgable in all areas of the problem!
  • Try to be as detailed as possible.  This will help your team develop a comprehensive opening statement for the debate.  Your opening statement should be 4-5 minutes in length. 
  • I would suspect that the outline would need to be no less than 2 pages (single spaced) to cover this topic sufficiently; however it can be longer.  
  • This outline is mainly for your use in developing and articulating your team's opening statement
  • Cite your sources in the outline using APA style citation formating, and include a list of works cited at the end of the outline.
  Comments, suggestions, or requests to Last updated 15 May 2010.  College of Charleston