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The following appeared as part of an article on government funding of
environmental regulatory agencies.
“When scientists finally learn how to create large amounts of copper from other
chemical elements, the regulation of copper mining will become unnecessary. For
one thing, since the amount of potentially available copper will no longer be limited
by the quantity of actual copper deposits, the problem of overmining will quickly
be eliminated altogether. For another, manufacturers will not need to use synthetic
copper substitutes, the production of which creates pollutants. Thus, since two
problems will be settled—overmining and pollution—it makes good sense to
reduce funding for mining regulation and either save the money or reallocate it
where it is needed more.”
Argument Page numbers
Discuss how well reasoned... etc.
The author contends that it makes good sense to reduce funding for mining regulation, because regulatory problems with over-mining
and pollution will be solved when scientists learn how to create large amounts of copper from other chemical elements. One reason the
author gives for this conclusion is that the problem of over-mining will be quickly eliminated when the amount of potentially available
copper is no longer limited by the quantity of actual copper deposits. Another reason given is that pollution problems created by
production of synthetic copper substitutes will be eliminated when manufacturers no longer depend on substitutes. This argument is
weak because the conclusion goes beyond the scope of the premises and because the argument relies on questionable assumptions.
To begin with, the wording of the conclusion suggests that funding for mining regulation generally should be reduced, yet the premises
are about copper mining only. There are many mined resources other than copper; advances in copper synthesis technology will in all
likelihood have no bearing on whether regulation of other kinds of mining should be changed.
Furthermore, the argument depends on the assumption that copper mining will slow down once copper can be chemically synthesized.
However, the author provides no evidence to substantiate this assumption. Moreover, it is entirely possible that copper mining will remain
less expensive than copper synthesis. If so, there will be no incentives, outside of regulatory ones, to slow down copper mining. In a word,
the problem of over-mining will remain.
Finally, the argument relies on the assumption that synthesizing copper will not create the same kind of pollution problems as those
resulting from the synthesis of copper substitutes. However, the author provides no evidence to substantiate this assumption. Without
such evidence, we cannot accept the premise that pollution problems will be eliminated by switching from producing copper substitutes
to producing copper itself.
In conclusion, I am not convinced on the basis of this argument that the time has come to cut funding for the regulation of mining in
general, or even for the regulation of copper mining in particular. To strengthen the argument, the author must restrict the scope of the
conclusion to copper mining rather than to mining in general. The author must also provide support for the two assumptions underlying