Rebuttal – WaywardSundial

Small Amounts are Still Relevant

Using dispersants to clean pollution that resides in the ocean has direct consequences that harms life living in it, as well as outside of it. Unintentional harm from several techniques cleaning the seas can hinder or even kill unsuspecting marine life, especially from said dispersants. Regardless of the method of cleaning, harm will still be added, and in the case of dispersants being used to make the ocean appear cleaner, it actually is making more harm happen.

When pollution is being cleaned, one could argue that the amount of waste added as well as the damage dealt doesn’t compare to the amount of pollution that is being cleaned, as more good is being done than harm. Although that is true, many lives within the ocean will be harmed in potentially more severe ways. With the example of oil nets that clean up oil spills or emissions from aquatic vehicles, although there exists chances of animals being harmed, a good quantity of pollutants is being taken out of the environment. While this is mostly positive, the few lives in question would be snuffed out due to these efforts. It would be unfair as well as cruel to dismiss the possibility of loss of life, no matter if the loss in question is a fish or bird.

Dispersants are chemicals in which they are poured on oil spills, “dispersing” the pollution so that it appears to be clean, however there very well may be more harm than benefits with this method. With a notable quote from ( “While it would be nice to believe that dispersants rid the ocean of oil forever, the truth of the matter is that dispersants do not reduce the amount of oil entering the environment. Instead, they literally just push the problem (a combination of oil AND chemicals) underwater where we can’t see them …” and  “ Not only does it appear that our methods of cleaning up oil spills are ineffective, but the chemicals used in dispersants are also damaging marine life. Dispersants wreak havoc in ocean environments, and have proven to be harmful to many marine organisms.” These quotes show the dangers and effects of a single type of “rescue” people use to clean up oil spills.These dispersants spread the oil to eventually settle on the seabed, where it causes arguably more harm than it did on the surface. From being in the same environment as these harmful chemicals and toxins, marine life become not only tainted but also hindered by these toxins, passing the harmful effects to human were they caught and ingested. The effects of a product of humans seeking to help the ocean and those who benefit and live within it inadvertently negatively impacts the beings who are dedicated to it.

Dispersants deployed on oil spills near coral reefs may be more harmful to them than the oil itself. Done by an organization publishing their research on “ACS Publications”, a group of scientists and oceanographers revealed that dispersants were more harmful to coral than crude oil. “The dispersed oil and the dispersants were significantly more toxic than crude oil WSFs.” alongside a series of tests, this was the conclusion they discovered. Perhaps a good analogy to this overall topic would be for one to metaphorically look tat the sky of a polluted city. Although there is a blue sky and everything seems ok, it isn’t possible to see pollution in the sky with the naked eye. This goes for dispersants; although oil spills appear to be gone, they are really just dissipated throughout the water setting up the possibility to cause more harm. Again, the opposition to my overall thesis is that more good may be done than harm in the overall scheme of cleaning ocean pollution with the use of dispersants.

Perhaps the biggest case for refuting my claim is that when dispersants are used on oil spills, the oil that was initally harming animals are nowhere to be seen, completely dissipated throughout the water. Explained by “Marine Life Article” talking about how dispersants work, the types of them, as well as how “beneficial” they are, it completely neglects to talk about how disastrous they really are for marine life and the ocean in general. This claim is completely untrue, as although the oil spill appears clean it actually was just broken down, spreading throughout the ocean in small globules which not only spread the maladies of the pollution ever further, it also is more easier for wildlife in the ocean to consume it and become effected negatively by it. Furthered by my point about how ocean pollution can harm humans, this can be related to the use of dispersants as humans who are unlucky enough to eat marine life that have become contaminated through eating the globules caused by the dispersants will inevitably gain health problems, all leading back to the dispersants them self. This is very much the opposite to what is wanted when trying to save and preserve the ocean. Although it may appear good for an organization in the media to be associated with “cleaning the ocean”, there is virtually no benefit to this method other than the waters appearing cleaner. In actuality the waters are being polluted even more than if the oil were to just sit on the surface.


9 thoughts on “Rebuttal – WaywardSundial”

  1. Thank you for your post, Sundial. Please stop identifying yourself at the top of the essay with your name and class details. I need to continue to encourage students to respect their own anonymity on the blog to justify having students receive their feedback here. Thank you.


  2. Sundial, the reason you have to say the same thing again and again in your first three paragraphs is that you haven’t done enough research to let the facts do the work for you. It’s a problem you need to solve that is fortunately very easy to solve.

    Within two minutes of following the links from the one source you cited, I was figuratively swimming in fascinating information from the Environmental Protection Agency (which offers a complete listing and breakdown of the sorts of dispersants that are used to clean oil spills), from Science Daily (which led to material from the American Chemical Society), from Science and Technology (which led immediately to a long study by the National Institute of Oceanography), to the Center for Biological Diversity (which surveyed the total impact on animals of the BP oil spill), to a fascinating article in the New York Times about autopsies done on sea turtles to figure out whether it was the oil or the dispersants or something else that killed them.

    Any of them would have saved you from having to repeat yourself.

    Your rebuttal argument needs sources too. It’s not enough to raise your own objections to your hypothesis. Some highly credible expert has to take issue with the position you take. You haven’t set yourself enough of a challenge.

    Where does one go for such a refutation? To the people in charge of doing cleanups, whose job it is to convince us that they’re helping with a solution, not adding to a problem.

    You have the language skills you need to be rhetorically convincing once you have enough material to make a case, but you’re showing yourself to be content with a single article to provide everything.

    I highly recommend that you focus DOWN on the very good and extremely counterintuitive central claim of your position: that the dispersants used to “clean up” oil spills do no such thing. It simply breaks up the oil into tiny particles that disperse but don’t go away. They just sink from the surface so the water looks clean. And the chemicals of which they’re made are perhaps just as hazardous as the oil itself.

    That’s more than enough of a topic for 3000 words if you do the research to examine it carefully.

    Popular press will give you all the “attitude” material. Scientific studies will help you determine the actual harm caused by oil and dispersants. The oil companies will offer you the rebuttal position that purports to show the efficacy of the cleanups. And somewhere in the mix, the EPA will chime in to offer the perspective that exonerates the government from responsibility for the problem and paints a positive picture of how responsibly everything is being handled.

    As it stands, there’s WAY TOO MUCH fluff in your essay here.


  3. I took your suggestions into consideration and fixed/added things I feel would make it better and not so full of unneeded language


  4. You’ve done good work here, Sundial. You’re getting your material under control and you’ve considerably reduced the repetitions.

    For the next step, I highly recommend you focus your Rebuttal specifically on dispersants, and that to do so you find a single strong respected or at least authoritative source that says specifically: Dispersants are an effective and ecologically sound method of cleaning up oil spills.

    You’re unlikely to find a source that says: all we need is a little effort and we can clean up the ocean without doing further damage to the earth’s ecology. So, failing that, find and refute the argument that most nearly threatens a strong component argument of your essay.

    One of two things will happen, perhaps both. Your Rebuttal essay might shrink to fewer than 1000 words because of the shift in focus. Your Causal essay will swell in size to more than take up the slack because you’ll be moving material there that no longer fits into the Rebuttal essay. After the first draft, the word counts are not very significant. Don’t worry if subsequent drafts are “too long” or “too short.” The short essays are just ways of getting you to write from several aspects of your position.

    I’ve revised your Introduction to show you how I recommend you narrow your focus for this essay.

    Current methods of ridding the ocean of pollution all add to the problem. When cleanup vessels leave emissions behind, or cleanup crews toss plastic into the sea, the effects are regrettable but probably minimal. The costs of using chemical dispersants to break up and “eliminate” oil spills, though, are devastating to marine life, widespread, long-lasting, and undeniable. Oil spill cleanup, to put it bluntly, is a second environmental catastrophe, not a remedy.

    Now, that means your 2nd Paragraph and much of your last Paragraph no longer fit this essay. But from what I saw in the brief minutes I spent looking at academic sources for the hazards of dispersed oil and the dispersants themselves, you haven’t begun to exhaust the amount of language you can fruitfully spend on this topic. If you do it right, your Rebuttal essay will still weigh in at 1000 words.

    Does that sound reasonable?


    1. Oh that definitely sounds like the most optimal course of action. I really like the sample intro you wrote it was concise while focusing on just the dispersants as the issue like you said. I definitely will go back and make it more centralized around the dispersant and the harm it does, while adding another source of someone who thinks that’s a great way to clean oil, where I can refute him. Haha thank you! I really appreciate the honest feedback as it helps me get on track to doing the best I can


        1. Hey,
          Was looking over the corrections you recommended, and did want to ask if by me changing the theme of the rebuttal to be focused on the dispersants, should the overall tone of my full paper be changed as well? Or would the dispersant oriented theme be limited just to the rebuttal? Oh and do you recommend me changing it now or when writing the full essay with the three mini essays, should I then adapt it so that dispersants intertwine with the entire thing?


  5. I do think you should narrow the focus of the entire paper to dispersants alone since it’s much more profitable to prove one thing well. The timing is up to you. So is which version of your shorter papers you include in your portfolio. The best strategy would be to do a thorough update of your short arguments (2 of them anyway) so that the revised version you include in your Portfolio will show major improvement over the first draft. This is a good time to plan that strategy. I hope that was clear.


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