Bottled Water Debate Essay Sample

A response to smartinezpuppo.
My grade is: 3.0.

3.0. Does not identify or analyze most of the important features of the argument, although some analysis is present


The essay is making two points. The first point is that Saluda's tap water may be as healthy as the bottled spring water. This point is somewhat irrelevant since the quality of tap water in Saluda is of no interest - however, it can be generalized to an observation that the quality of tap water in other locations may also be high. (It is said that the standard for tap water in NYC is higher than the standard for bottled water in NYC. Never checked if it was true.) The second point is that Saluda's residents may be less frequently hospitalized for all kinds of reasons.

Some analysis is present, but most of the important features of the original argument are missed. If you replace "Saluda Natural Spring Water" with "apples" in the original argument, and you will see, how many things you have missed
Specifically.
    1.It is unclear whether Saluda Spring Water is healthy at all. Almost any water would contain some minerals necessary for good health (how much?) The absence of bacteria is not necessarily a good thing either.
    2. It is not clear whether the residents of Saluda drink the Saluda Spring Water at all. Even if they do drink it, they may be drinking it from the spring. As the water is bottled and transported, it may be losing some of its beneficial qualities.
    3. Being hospitalized less frequently is not necessarily a sign of good health. Perhaps the health care in Saluda is not affordable or the hospital is too far away.
    4. A comparison with the national average is almost meaningless. There are MANY cities and towns where people are hospitalized LESS frequently than the national average, just like there are MANY cities and towns where people are hospitalized MORE frequently than the national average. It is an oversimplification, but roughly speaking, there is a 50% chance (I know it is not technically true, but you get the idea.) The argument would be marginally strengthened by demonstrating that this difference in hospitalization was statistically significant.
    5. It is not clear if the investment in Saluda is wise. Even if this bottled water is beneficial, there may be cheaper alternatives.



3.0. The paper mainly analyzes tangential or irrelevant matters, or reasons poorly.


Quote:

The argument seems to assume that tap water does not contain the same quantity of healthy minerals found in the spring water or that it might have some bacteria and therefore arrives at the conclusion that tap water is not as healthy as Saluda Natural Spring Water. It is entirely possible that tap water is as healthy as the spring water,


This looks like poor reasoning. "The argument seems to assume that A or B, and therefore arrives at the conclusion that C. It is entirely possible that C is false."
The analysis first suggests that the original argument had an unwarranted assumption: the tap water might have some bacteria and/or substantial quantities of healthy minerals. Then this line of reasoning is simply dropped.

Quote:

Had the argument included such data regarding studies about properties of Saluda’s tap water


The quality of Saluda's tap water is of little relevance.

Quote:

Perhaps, Saluda’s residents have healthier habits than the national average. For example, they may practice more sports or eat healthier. Furthermore the argument omits to mention the characteristics of the residents, the population in Saluda might be younger than the average. Saluda may be a town built around a university where most people are students in their mid-20s, who have fewer illnesses or just prefer to return their home town when they are ill.


Here the paper is trying to make a point that Saluda's residents may be healthier than the national average for reasons other than that they drink the bottled water. However, this point is never made explicit. Instead, there are only vague statements such as "However there is now proof that this piece of evidence would necessarily lead to the other." or "This type of information should be addressed for the argument to be more convincing."

Quote:

Improvements, including laboratory studies of tap water and information claiming that the population in Saluda is representative of the national average population would certainly make this argument a better and more convincing piece.


The population in Saluda is not representative of the national average population. Period.

3.0. Does not convey meaning clearly. (Is limited in the logical development and the organization of ideas).


Quote:

The author fails to take into account studies of tap water...


It is not clear if there have been any relevant studies.

Quote:

...that might be addressed in order to strengthen the argument.


The meaning is unclear.

Quote:

It is entirely possible that tap water is as healthy as the spring water, and therefore the recommendation of buying spring water instead would have been weaken.


I can see the intended meaning, but it is not expressed in a coherent way. The "would have been" is particularly confusing.

Quote:

...several logical leaps would still be required for this argument to be considered sound. For example, the author claims that Saluda’s residents are less frequently hospitalized than the national average. However there is now proof that this piece of evidence would necessarily lead to the other.


It is not clear, where exactly is the logical leap.

Quote:

Improvements, including laboratory studies of tap water and information claiming that the population in Saluda is representative of the national average population would certainly make this argument a better and more convincing piece.


This whole sentence is confusing. For example, it is unclear how a study can be an improvement of an argument.

3.0. Uses language imprecisely and/or lacks in sentence variety.


3.0. Contains occasional major errors or frequent minor errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics..



Quote:

should be buying Saluda Natural Spring Water instead of drinking tap water


buying instead of drinking?

Quote:

One of the most fundamentals flaws with this argument stems from a lack of information about the properties of the town’s tap water.


Usage: a flaw stems from a lack of information... In fact, this lack of information is a flaw. The flaw does not stem from this lack of information.

Quote:

Had the argument included such data regarding studies about properties of Saluda’s tap water showing the lack of minerals or the existence of some bacteria corroborating the argument’s conclusion


bacteria corroborating the conclusion?

Quote:

a stronger case for the recommendation in favor of buying spring water would have been made.


Too repetitive: case, recommendation, favor.

Quote:

Even if the argument persuasively featured information about tap water


"persuasively featured" does not sound right

Quote:

Furthermore the argument omits to mention the characteristics of the residents, the population in Saluda might be younger than the average.


Comma splice.


Quote:

Improvements, including laboratory studies of tap water and information claiming that the population in Saluda is representative of the national average population would certainly make this argument a better and more convincing piece.


A second comma is missing.
_________________

Sergey Orshanskiy, Ph.D.
I tutor in NYC: http://www.wyzant.com/Tutors/NY/New-York/7948121/#ref=1RKFOZ

From November 18 to November 21, Harvard students have the opportunity to vote on an Undergraduate Council referendum that seeks to ban the sale of plastic water bottles on campus and increase the availability of tap water sources such as filling stations. Proponents of the proposal have hailed it as commonsense measure, claiming the ban would represent a commitment to protecting the environment. Banning plastic water bottles, which are inarguably harmful to the environment, would have important symbolic implications, but the very real negative consequences of implementing such a ban far outweigh the symbolic victory that would come with its passage. Instead of approving this misguided proposal, we should look for more efficient ways to tackle this problem.

The environmental damage caused by disposing plastic water bottles is a textbook case of a negative externality. The ban proposes to reduce the damage of this externality by limiting the choice of the consumers. Limiting consumer choice, however, is extremely problematic on an economic level and often brings with it a number of unintended consequences.

At the University of Vermont, which recently banned the sale of water bottles, students bought over 350,000 bottles of water yearly before the ban. It is reasonable to project that the sales revenues lost from banning water bottles would not be insignificant. This fall in revenues could lead to either lower pay or fewer student-employees being hired at student-run establishments that sell water bottles, such as Lamont Café. Employment opportunities represent a valuable part of Harvard financial aid packages, and limiting sales at Harvard establishments hinders Harvard’s ability to pay its students fair wages.

Furthermore, when consumers are no longer able to purchase a preferred good, they often choose to purchase a substitutable, or similar, good. In this case, that means that students might purchase bottled sodas in place of the banned bottled water. Few would argue that this is the ideal outcome. In addition to causing the same environmental harm as bottled water, bottled soda is also a danger to students’ health.

Students who do not switch to soda might instead buy bottled water from other stores in Harvard Square. Because these alternate purchasing locations are not as convenient as on-campus locations, students might choose to buy bottled water in bulk so as to limit the time they spend buying water. Because of this, students who previously consumed bottled water infrequently and only out of necessity might actually consume more of it, since they would have bulk quantities on hand.

Fortunately, there is an alternate option for reducing Harvard’s consumption of bottled water that avoids or lessens all of the aforementioned consequences: incentivizing consumer behavior. The second portion of the proposed referendum, the building of more tap water fill stations, is a great example of a proposal that incentivizes behavior. Because tap water is free and bottled water expensive, students should naturally consume less bottled water and use the free tap water instead once it is made more accessible through the fill stations.

Another way to incentivize students to purchase few water bottles would be to impose a University tax on bottled water. By raising the price students must pay for bottled water, the tax would cause students to purchase less water, reducing the detrimental environmental impact of the bottles. Furthermore, the University could then use some of the tax revenues to supplement employee pay to ensure that the tax does not result in lower salaries for student-employees. The remaining tax revenues could then be used to fund other environmental initiatives, including the building of more filling stations. Coupling a bottled water tax with a program to increase tap water accessibility would thus present a much more efficient solution to reducing Harvard’s environmental impact than would an outright ban on bottled water.

Aside from its direct inefficiencies, the proposed ban also creates problems for the image of environmentalism. Because banning bottled water represents an encroachment on individual choice and consumer freedom, such a policy invites criticism on an ideological level. As I have previously stated, there is considerable danger in taking a radical tact on an issue that could be more effectively solved by a moderate approach. An outright ban of water bottles offers easy fodder for conservative pundits bent on opposing the cause of environmentalism, making it easy for such pundits to label proponents of this policy as radicals who are willing to overlook any and all individual freedoms in order to achieve their aims. Inviting these kinds of attacks on environmentalism is ultimately harmful to the larger goal of convincing more people to recognize the necessity of environmental consciousness. An incentive-based approach would avoid these sorts of attacks by preserving the choice of the consumer, allowing the progress of environmentalism to go unhindered.

Because the current proposal does not solve the issue at hand in an efficient and responsible manner, we should vote “no” as an affirmation that we can devise a better solution.

Carson J. Scott ’16, a Crimson editorial writer, is an economics concentrator in Winthrop House.

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