Environmentally Challenged

Mary Claire Birdsong
Photo credit Bertha Bueno Ecuador

The National Christian Forensics Communication Association’s (NCFCA) team policy debate resolution for 2009-10 was Resolved: The United States should significantly reform its environmental policy.

Upon hearing the resolution for the first time, neither my debate partner nor I knew which area within environmental policy to tackle. We couldn't say: hey, we're passionate about the EPA standards. Or the Endangered Species Act. Or corn ethanol, pesticides, or salmon runs. We considered ourselves compassionate about the environment, but in a vague way, gleaned mainly from our personal experiences in nature. Nothing screamed “research this - this is what really matters.”

In summer of ‘09, the eastern US news was filled with stories on coal, whether good or bad, and debate on the subject of "clean coal" ramped up during the ‘08 election cycle. Although some political people we liked had affirmed the value of “clean coal,” I remained skeptical. We eliminated wind, solar, coal, “clean coal,” every “green energy” (choke!) subsidy or incentive ... but not nuclear energy. Our first draft affirmative case centered on reducing and eliminating coal mining. We wanted the US to incrementally stop coal mining and replace it with nuclear energy. What kind of nuclear energy - or which variety of reactor - weren’t even questions on our radar screen. That would soon change.

Although my Dad stays in the distant background on my projects (by necessity, he’s funding them!), he likes to be included in the conversation. He offers a wide range of experience. I could sense his approval when we started leaning towards nuclear energy. My Dad was quick to tell me stories about his nuclear submarine, the USS Woodrow Wilson, and how it could power a large city for many years*.

(*Hurricane Iniki operation; I will need to fact check this memory, because he is currently deployed.)

Mary Claire Birdsong Go Nuclear Founding Youth Advocate


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