Over 50 students listened to a student debate run by Interdisciplinary Public Square Wednesday at the College of Business about climate change issues such as fossil fuel divestment.
Students from the Beach Forensics Speech and Debate Team discussed the pros and cons of fossil fuel divestment and the potential trap of the green paradox, an idea that carbon taxes will accelerate global warming by encouraging countries without taxes to extract more fossil fuels to outcompete taxed countries.
“We hoped to provide an interdisciplinary conversation on different ways to account for the social and political costs of greenhouse gas emissions today, and how that plays a role in fossil fuel divestment movement,” said Assistant Professor of geography Lily House-Peters, who organized the event in coordination with IPS.
The IPS is a collaboration of faculty across the College of Liberal Arts that organizes events to promote and maintain spaces for participants to express opinions, but also listen, learn and negotiate ideas.
Michael Eisenstadt, director of forensics and member of IPS, came up with the debate format to tackle the divisive fossil fuel investment issue.
“You could go to a library and read about climate change, go to a coffee shop and have a discussion, or you could go troll the internet,” said Eisenstadt. “But the one thing that a debate brings to the table is that it forces a clash of ideas, and it tests the quality of ideas, and that is something an audience can’t get by just reading an Op-Ed from the New York Times.”
The audience watched the two teams go back and forth presenting their cases.
“Sitting here and listening to arguments go back and forth, and develop and refute one another, that’s something that only this format of discussion can bring to the table,” said Eisenstadt.
The second Earth Day event “Earth Now! A Teach-In on Climate Action & Empowerment,” takes place next Thursday at the central quad on upper campus. The event will include short
talks by speakers, including faculty, students and community activists and group discussions.