Early Winter Policy Digest – 1.0

The months of November and December are a whirlwind for debaters. The weather gets colder, the first semester draws to a close and debaters across the country attempt to compete as often as possible as the holidays compress their schedule.

The Big Picture

Our latest Free Card Friday on space weaponization and international cooperation contains over twenty pieces of free evidence. The release was introduced in three different parts and accompanied by a slideshow of the top 10 space weapons. We also updated a previous Free Card Friday on politics with two very good link arguments.

Our third thought piece on abstract vs. applied reasoning is up, inspired by the recent work of Yale experimental philsopher Josh Knobe. We also posted a small update to our previous thought piece, noting the potential downsides to creative thinking.

We’re still offering free case critiques! Submit your’s soon.

The Affirmative

A major new study purports to be the first to examine the international adoption of space-based solar power. However, it also opens the door to new criticisms.

Space taxis have recently been underfunded,  prompting us to wonder whether this would make a good affirmative. This view may be tempered by the recent news that Space-X is planning to build space taxis. We think the charge of “extra-topicality” can be defeated. (Similarly, is Obama planning to short-change spy satellites?)

We suggested that exploring Mars with the ESA would be a good affirmative. Those views have only strengthened in light of recent events.  

With the Keystone Pipeline gathering attention, debaters would be wise to refresh their memories on how to answer the “Rider” politics DA.

The “Madman” thesis states that asteroid-prevention technology could be used as a weapon of mass destruction. We have several reservations about this theory.

The X-37, which many believe to be a weapon, will remain in orbit indefinitely.

The Negative

Some scientists warn of intense solar storms as early as 2012 as Earth approaches its solar maximum. Human society is largely prepared.

Many affirmatives claim to relieve space congestion. Is that a good thing?

Earth-monitoring satellites are being delayed because of exorbitant flight costs.

Building space elevators is every bit as complicated as one might imagine.

If we’re past the point of no return on removing space debris should we shield satellites instead?

It is almost impossible to predict the future when discussing space policy.

Are electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) weapons a credible danger in space?

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) embarked on a bumpy ride during the Congressional budget debates. It appears to have finally reached smooth waters.

Mars affirmatives may have been too persuasive: the government plans to launch a new project called Orion to explore the red planet.

The Great Space Powers: China and Russia

The Shenzou-8 returned successfully, no small feat given the scope of China’s ambition in using both aumomatic and manned docking techniques. This success has spurred China to envision the Shenzou-9 and 10. Chinese citizens have a suggestion: they’d like love songs be played when satellites dock. Some think this is no laughing matter, and predict China will be the world’s space leader by 2020. Those fears have been exacerbated by the creation of the NSSC. Others argue the U.S. has a sizable edge, both in contracts and vision. (At the margins, Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution and Kurt Anderson of Vanity Fair debate whether America has kept its aeshetic edge.)

Russia’s space program had fallen on hard times in September and October. New developments with the ISS and Mars exploration help to bright future projections.

Space is likely to be the battleground for any future confrontations between the U.S. and other great powers.

Odds and Ends

Scientists believe they’ve found the first Earth-like planet.

NASA survived the latest round of budget cuts. Will it survive sequestration after the supercommittee failure?

Romney went after Gingrich during a Republican debate for supporting lunar colonization.

Last month’s digest introduced work by Tim Maurer at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science suggesting cyberwar could be a good thing. Richard Clarke, a former top adviser to three presidents, is among those who strongly disagree.

The Obama administration has been strongly hinting that it wants to an international Code of Conduct for space actvitiy.

If you’re looking for aliens, the Obama administration says in a statement to look elsewhere. It isn’t all bad news for ET fans: the Allen Telescope Array (ATA) is back online.

Physicists want to build a laser so power that it can rip space-time apart.

Fears of an ISS closure have temporarily been laid to rest.

Are efforts to halt Co2 emissions misguided?

Weather control is a fascinating concept, and potentially a deadlier one than atomic weapons.

An exciting new journal entitled The Space Quarterly has been released.

About Lauren Sabino

Lauren Sabino is the Director of Youth Programs at the National Center for Policy Analysis. She currently administrates Debate Central, the largest free online debate resource.
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