GRE Argument Essay 189

The following appeared in a Brenton newspaper.

“The Brenton power plant draws water from Scott’s River for its cooling system and releases the warmed water back into the river. The town council recommends that the plant install a more efficient cooling system that uses less water, claiming it will be more environmentally sound. However, in Uptown, where the new system is used, a study found that the complex network of pipes in the new system tends to accumulate algae. The build up of algae can be avoided by scrubbing the pipes, which is costly, or by adding an herbicide to the water in the pipes to prevent algae accumulation. But water containing the herbicide cannot be released back into the river and it is known that low water levels can harm river ecosystems accustomed to higher levels. Therefore, Brenton power plant should continue to use the old cooling system exclusively.”

The argument given above advocates the use of old cooling system by the Brenton power plant instead of the new system and the writer mentions the reasons for this suggestion. A single reading of the argument makes the reader feel convinced since the argument seems to be logical, however, a closer look at the use of logic explains the loopholes in it that the writer must be reminded of. The following discussion exposes the shortfalls of the argument that question the logic used in it.

First of all, the need of a new system for cooling is not clearly evident from the argument. The writer does not provide any evidence to prove how the old system is not environmentally sound. The water released back into the river is of the same quantity and there is no mention of any contamination in it. Therefore, neither is it consuming too much water, nor is it polluting it. The water released is only warmed up due to the procedure, which might not be suitable for all aquatic life. It is possible that the water cools off soon after it is released back into the river. Moreover, there can be other solutions to cool off the water. For example, it could be collected in a separate tank to cool off before releasing it into the river. Hence, the old system would not cause any environmental hazards and would also maintain the purity of water.

Considering that the old system is not environmentally sound, the writer does not approve of the new system being used in Uptown and gives reasons to support his stand. However, it is possible that the new system is a good alternate since the writer ignores its benefits and concentrates only on a narrow aspect of its demerits. First of all, there could be other solutions to avoid the accumulation of algae as is seen in the complex system of pipes as used in Uptown. It is possible that the plant in Uptown is built in a limited space that has resulted in a complex system of pipes in the plant. Instead of installing a complex system of pipes, the Brenton power plant could use the new system by removing these complexities in the pipes or straightening most of the pipes on a larger area in order to reduce algae accumulation.

If the new system requires addition of a herbicide in water to reduce algae, the writer does not venture into finding a solution to avoid releasing this water into the river. First of all it is possible that the new system does not require large quantities of water for cooling. Therefore, if this water is not released back into the river, it is possible that it does not lower the level of the river to the extent that it harms the ecosystems accustomed to higher levels of water. Further, it could be considered to purify the contaminated water by filtering the wastes or adding certain chemicals that neutralize the effect of herbicide and make the water clean before releasing it into the river. In this way, the water can be released into the river without posing a threat to the environment as well as aquatic life.

Clearly, the writer does not consider the options as discussed above. He does not give a foolproof argument that supports the use of the old system over the new system. The discussion given above however, would help the writer to take into consideration the various possibilities and options, and help him to form a more convincing argument.