QUESTION TYPE: Argument Evaluation
CONCLUSION: This new sewage sludge fuel technology will help us meet our energy needs with less environmental harm and without nuclear power.
REASONING: The new technology can produce oil from sewage sludge.
ANALYSIS: The stimulus lists an advantage to sewage sludge: it’s not nuclear power. But that’s all we know.
There are many other questions:
- Does sewage sludge pollute? Several answers address this.
- Is sewage sludge expensive?
- Is there enough sewage sludge to make an impact?
The wrong answer mentions that sewage sludge production has improved. I care about whether something is good now, not whether it recently got better.
- If using sewage as fuel lets us avoid dumping sewage sludge, then this technology will be even more useful for protecting the environment.
- CORRECT. It doesn’t matter whether the processes have improved. That’s a relative term. We care whether the processes are currently good or bad. Those are absolute terms.If you get into a car, you care whether it is safe, not whether it is safer than it used to be. A car could be safer and still be a deathtrap.
- If sewage fuel is too expensive, then it can’t replace nuclear.
- If sewage fuel produces harmful gases, then switching to sewage from nuclear could increase pollution.
- If sewage fuel produces harmful waste, then it’s hard to see how it would be better than nuclear.
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