After much thought and brainstorming, I have found a couple controversial topics that are worthy of consideration as a final paper. The topics include waste recycling, which entails the benefits and costs on a community as well as the environment when recycling occurs, the controversial debate of Lake Powell and whether or not to drain the man-made lake, and the issue of zoos with their attention to animal rights. Each has significant pros and cons to the relative matters and is worthy of further discussion.
Recycling waste serves many purposes. It prevents landfills from filling up and polluting our water, prevents airborne pollutants caused from waste, and prevents the competition of land space (Aadland, 1). David Aadland and Arthur J. Caplan share an annual report stating that “per capita the generation of solid waste continues to grow nationwide”, leading to less and less space for land-fills. This is a major reason recycling is needed. Waste is only going to continue piling up until there is nowhere to put it.
This is a future-sensitive matter.
Recycling it is often considered to the people of a community as a “no-brainer”. We use so many artificial products that are harmful to the environment, that we encourage recycling so as to not feel “wasteful”. However, is recycling actually beneficial to our communities and/or to the environment? There are multiple factors of a community that are affected by the process of recycling waste. Aadland and Caplan explain that “curbside recycling programs divert resources from other public services, such as education, highway maintenance, welfare programs, etc.
” All of these services are crucial to the functioning and running of a community. This questions whether or not recycling is worth the resources demanded. Not to mention the environmental aspect to recycling—specifically of electronic waste. Studies show that areas that participate in the most WEEE (Waste of Electrical and Electronic Equipment) recycling present higher concentrations of environmental pollutants such as lead, polychlorinated dioxins and furans, etc. (Sepulveda, 28). These pollutants are proven to have an effect not just on the environment, but humans as well. While not all forms of recycling may produce environmental pollutants, it is necessary to consider all of the benefits and costs of waste recycling.
The controversy of recycling is a considerable topic for a final paper as it has varying views that are for and against the idea of the recycling of waste products. On the contrary, it is not as feasible to find evidence against recycling as is to find evidence supporting it. While there is evidence, it is not as easily accessible. Also, a major contributor to the anti-argument of recycling would be explaining how effective the recycling of waste actually is; I was unable to find a credible source of information regarding this. I believe that insight would have greatly increased the value of the discussion topic.
Another contemplating topic of discussion is Lake Powell. Lake Powell is a man-made lake whose recreations are enjoyed by many nationwide as well as worldwide. Lake Powell was originally Glen Canyon, until it was decided to build a dam, thereby creating a man-made lake. Some of the canyons are still very present today. The dam serves multiple purposes as it stores water, generates electricity, and filters sediment that would otherwise flow down the current of Lake Mead, which is a large water source for other states (Johnson, 37).
Lake Powell is said to be the best “house-boat” location as well as the best location for camping and many other recreations. However, there is a large controversy on whether or not to let the lake remain a lake. Advocates for the lake tend to be recreationalists who enjoy the water and the features the national park provides. Those opposing the lake wish to drain it and restore it to its natural canyons. While spirituality and personal beliefs may be heavy factors in the opinions of those advocating for or against the lake, there has recently been an influx of support for the advocates of draining the lake. The opposing group has finally accumulated enough power to consider a political debate of draining the lake (Johnson, 49).
However, the lake itself is not in its prime condition. Johnsons refers to Kevin Berghoff, an NPS hydrologist at Lake Powell, who shares information regarding the water quality of the lake. Berghoff explains that Salenium is accumulated in the water as well as fecal matter (both human and animal), and motor fuel from the various engines that are used for recreation on the lake. Water levels also fluctuate annually as Lake Powell has a history of rising and falling several inches or even feet every year. This could play a role in the decision of whether or not to drain the lake.
The lake is also great tourist attraction giving the economy financial stability as it provides multiple jobs. Johnson claims that “in 1994 6.7% of jobs in Arizona were in the tourist industry.” That provides a lot of payroll for a lot of families. Not to mention the influx of people visiting the state of Arizona is beneficial to their local economy as they often buy food, camping supplies, and other miscellaneous items. The government is likewise involved in the lake’s affairs as the lake offers means for electricity from the dam. Draining it would mean finding other sources of power for surrounding areas.
The recreationalists enjoy the scenery and activities of the lake, while the activists for draining the lake advocate to restore the natural beauty of the Glen Canyons which provided food and shelter for many animals including the badger, deer, coyotes, etc. Many supporters of the lake being drained are very spiritual. They do not believe that nature—in other words, “God”—is a matter to be trifled with and the beauties of nature should remain untouched, regardless of the beauties any man-made structure could offer.
This topic would be great for the final as it encompasses multiple economic, social, and political views of the situation. I like that there are so many aspects of society that support the sustaining existence of the lake. However, that is also a weakness of the topic. I feel that the antagonist side of the controversy is fairly weak in the sense that they really only have opinions and strong beliefs to fuel the debate of draining the lake. Perhaps if there was additional insight, providing evidence of a substantial benefit that society would have to gain by the absence of the lake, it would be a much stronger topic for the final.
Just as the environment and reservoirs are a part of nature, so are animals. A debate that often gets heated is the controversy of animals and zoos. Since the opening of zoos, there has always been opposing views. There are those that believe zoos are animal prisons, keeping them away from like animals and healthy habitats, and those who believe zoos are educational and beneficial to mankind and to animals. Not to mention zoos have become a successful industry of business.
Advocates against zoos argue that the treatment of individual animals within the zoos is not humane. Many activists have criticized the manner in which zoos have dealt with their animals. The San Diego zoo was castigated for euthanizing an elephant that had fallen into a dry moat, as was the Milwaukee zoo for sending an unruly elephant to a circus trainer in Illinois (Cohn, 658). These are examples of the constant critical investigation many zoos fall under. Activists are also concerned about the way the zoos deal with the surpluses of animals they accrue. Some zoos have sold animals to wildlife ranches that breed rare animals. These such ranches use hunting to support and control animal breeding, which can also bring up the dispute of whether or not the practices of hunting and breeding control are moral conducts.
While activists argue for animal rights, zoo managers and workers believe they do the same. They have confidence that zoos and the manners in which they run them are in accordance with animal rights. In regards to breeding control Hutchins, a zoo manager, claims that zoos help to maintain and even save endangered animal species. He asks, “what is the higher moral ethic if in a misplaced concern for individual welfare a species becomes extinct that could have been saved in zoos?” In this aspect, Hutchins implies that it would be immoral not keep and breed animals in zoos.
Zoos also provide wholesome entertainment to society. I think many can agree that wholesome, educational activities can be very valuable and worthwhile in the upbringing of children. Many families, including kids, enjoy trips to the zoo to visit and learn about the animals. Visiting the zoo can spark interest, admiration, and even passion for the animals—passion that could one day become a potential career.
This topic is good for a final paper as it has many reliable sources to reference for both advocates and it is very nature based. As a downfall, the topic does include quite a broad array of issues, including animal breeding and hunting, euthanization, etc. It is encompassed by a larger category of animal rights which would need to be broken down to specifics. In addition, I do not find much excitement in the discussion of zoos. While I do love animals, I do not find myself wanting to fully engage in the politics of the various issues that underly the moral existence of zoos.
In conclusion we see that there are a couple topics here worthy of further discussion in future assignments as well as a final paper. With the topic of recycling, I learned that advocates for both sides have reasonable claims as they argue for the health of the environment and the community. However, evidence of the cons of recycling are harder to come by and not quite a strong. Sources are fewer and far between as there seems to be a greater number of supporters than antagonists in regards to recycling. Zoos are great controversial topics within nature as it is very clear the stances one can take on the matter. There are also a great deal of articles supporting each side of the argument and I enjoyed learning the differences in how zoos run things. However, it does not interest me enough to write a full paper and I would rather not engage in the politics of such moral controversies. With those reasons in mind, I decided I would like to continue a further discussion of the topic of Lake Powell. There are multiple factors and stances to be taken on the matter in regards to nature, politics and economy, and the subject interests me as it is relatively close to my home. While all topics are fair gave me great pleasure in learning about them, I would like to continue research on the controversy of Lake Powell.