News Night

*All names have been made up for the purpose of this debate*

Elizabeth: Good evening. I am your host, Elizabeth Howell, and today in the studio we will be discussing the important question of space exploration and whether or not it is worth the cost. Joining me today are Ellen Barker- former NASA astronaut- and active astronaut Feustel Andrew. Ellen- I know you are a strong believer in space exploration not being worth the cost and have spoken out about this on several occasions. Can you explain why you think this?

Ellen: Well, Elizabeth. The truth of the matter is this: we could be using that money to deal with more important issues here on Earth. World hunger, for instance. The money that is currently used for space exploration would go a long way towards making life a lot better for a lot of people…

Elizabeth: It seems like a valid point. How much money are we talking about here?

Ellen: Well NASA’s budget for 2019 alone was $21.5 billion dollars. That money would go a long way to meeting the $30 billion a year that the UN has estimated would be needed to solve world hunger!

Elizabeth: There’s no arguing with those statistics, is there Feustal?

Feustal: With respect, Ellen, I have to say that I completely disagree. Yes, world hunger is an important issue, and one that we cannot ignore but to say that space exploration isn’t important… well, that just doesn’t make sense to me. Searching for other Earth-like planets is essential to the future of the human race. Don’t we have a responsibility to prolong the life of our own race?!

Elizabeth: Correct me if I’m wrong, but surely we can’t think that humans are capable for being responsible for another planet when we can’t even look after our own successfully.

Feustal: Of course we can, Elizabeth. Humans have changed and are now much more environmentally conscious. If a new planet were provided for us, we would definitely take the necessary steps to look after our new home.

Elizabeth: That’s all well and good, but at a cost of $150 billion dollars, I’m sure many people out there are thinking that Ellen is correct. Surely there is much more we can do here on Earth with this money. Are we giving up?

Feustal: We’re not giving up, as such. Merely preparing for the future.

Ellen: Isn’t it all just a little bit selfish? There are people who need our help now. It’s one thing to think about the future but if we don’t look after the human race and planet Earth now there won’t be a future to worry about.

Feustal: Selfish, you say?! Surely it’s more selfish to live in the moment without a thought for the bigger picture.

Elizabeth: I’m sure there are many people out there who would agree that the bigger picture is important, but there are many here at News Night who think our responsibility now lies with our planet.

Ellen: That’s exactly right, Elizabeth. There is much to be done here on Earth. We need to take responsibility for the 7.6 billion people who go hungry every day. If we can’t be responsible for that, we don’t deserve another planet to live on!

Feustal: But space exploration is benefiting us here and now as well, Ellen. Think about all the inventions and discoveries that NASA have been involved in. Camera phones, for example.

Elizabeth: Camera phones?

Slimen: Yes, Elizabeth. Originally a team at the jet propulsion laboratory worked to design a camera small enough to fit on a spacecraft. Camera phones were the result.

Ellen: That’s great, but not exactly life saving…

Feustal: Ok- water purification systems then. The technology in many purification systems is now based on the technology developed by NASA to purify astronauts’ drinking water. Is that life saving enough for you?

Ellen: Perhaps you are right in saying that space exploration is not a complete waste of time, but I still strongly believe that money could be used more effectively to directly support those who need help here on Earth. Water purification systems are clearly not benefiting everyone with the number of people in the world who don't have access to clean water. These are the people that need our help the most, and I'm not sure space exploration is the help they need...

Elizabeth: Thank you both for your contributions this evening but, unfortunately, we’ve run out of time. I’m your host, Elizabeth Howell and we will be back here tomorrow at 6pm to listen to your thoughts on this matter. As always, thanks for tuning in and, for tonight, goodbye.

BNC skills we have used to create this piece:

Open mindedness: We had to consider a range of view points and adapt our thinking accordingly. Some of us had to argue for things we didn't believe in, which was difficult at first. We had to use our open mindedness to consider alternative viewpoints and think of the reasons why people might believe these things.

Scepticism: We came across a lot of facts and statistics on the interent whilst we were researching for our debate. We had to use our scepticism to decide whether this information was accurate and reliable, as we wanted to make sure all the facts we used were true and proven.

Reasoning: We tried to develop our arguments in detail, using our reasoning skills to support us in backing up our points.

Speaking up: When we presented this debate, we had to consider how to communicate with different audiences, speaking confidently and clearly as we took on the roles of our characters.

Comments (1)

  • tom Tom @ the BNC
    13 Dec 2019

    Well done for such a lively and in-depth debate. I like how all characters ask other questions - some rhetorical, and some to prompt more reasons!

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