Imagine that you are going to participate in a debate on national TV. The debate is about environmental issues and you have prepared a short speech on the following topic:

  • Recent reports show that it requires international cooperation to lower average temperatures on earth. But how far should we go in order to save the planet? Should we boycott travelling by airplane and always take the train? Should we ban the imports of goods from far away? Or is the fear of global warming just propaganda?

Take a stand in the climate change issue. Find arguments to support your view and try to predict possible counter-arguments in order to turn them to your advantage.

Expert Answers

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Because the dire environmental situation is both a crisis and a long-term problem, and it requires immediate attention and extensive planning. Any speaker preparing a public presentation needs to understand all the concepts they are deploying, not only in isolation but as they are likely to interact. Posing a question such as “should we boycott air travel?” requires defining who “we” are, what “boycott” is, and who participates in “air travel.”

One of the challenging aspects of managing environmental issues is that their impact is global, but there are no truly comprehensive international agencies that are empowered to enforce as well as to agree upon likely solutions. Voluntary participation and recognition of consequences are elements of any “boycott.” Regarding air travel, the first step would be to identify the participants: the “we” of the proposal. Who would enter into an agreement not to travel by air? If these entities all agreed not to participate in air travel, how would they go about putting these principles into effect?

A problem arises in that each entity must commit to the principles involved as well as develop mechanisms for encouraging widespread participation or consequences for failing to do so. This seems unlikely to occur with air travel. There are not mechanisms for enforcing such behavior. It is also necessary to consider the consequences. The airlines operating in all countries would certainly challenge a boycott, as reduced business would put millions of people out of work worldwide and plunge the global economy into a crisis. The airlines would likely respond with mechanisms to stimulate business, such as reduced fares. Therefore, a boycott is not a viable solution, as it is equally likely to increase air travel.

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Writing a speech is a lot like writing an essay. And as this speech is meant to be a part of a debate, you must take into account arguments from both sides and come up with some advantages and disadvantages for both.

Concerning air travel, for example, you can discuss the main environmental issue with traveling by plane: aircraft emissions, such as gas and heat. You could also try proposing a solution for the problem. On the other hand, you could argue for the fact that, in some cases, international traveling (either for business or leisure) is not possible without airplanes.

Only when you compare the pros and cons can you decide where you stand and in what direction you want to take your speech.

You also have to back up your arguments with scientific data. Luckily, as global warming has become a part of everyday conversation, there is plenty of information about it online, not just in literature. You do, however, have to make sure you fact-check all the information. Your best source of data would be various scientific research papers from recent years.

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In order to prepare this speech, you are going to have to take a strong stance on global warming, and that means thoroughly researching the topic. Over and above causing extreme weather patterns, global warming could lead to water shortages and increased risks of fire in parts of the USA. The agriculture industry will be hard hit by global warming, leading to the possibility of challenges related to food security.

When it comes to what should be done, remember to be practical in your argument. Air travel cannot always be avoided, otherwise travel between the Americas and Europe, for example, would have to be done by ship, which is extremely time consuming and impractical. Banning the import of products that cannot be manufactured locally is also impractical.

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