IMAT 2018 Q16 [Argument | Undersea Oil Well]

A leaking undersea oil well in the USA caused massive damage to wildlife and was extremely expensive to clear up. Worst of all, it destroyed the livelihoods of poor people living in the area. Despite this, in the developed world we still don’t take seriously the risks of deepwater drilling. Until we can be satisfied that regulation is effective and that oil companies are operating safely, deepwater drilling should be banned.

Which one of the following, if true, most weakens the above argument?

A. The risks of deepwater drilling were known prior to the accident in the USA.

B. Oil companies involved in the accident in the USA paid money to compensate the victims.

C. A ban on deepwater drilling would cause oil prices to rise, which would affect poor people most.

D. Oil companies will operate more safely in future than they did before the accident in the USA.

E. Alternatives to fossil fuels may eventually be able to meet our energy needs.

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Steps:

  • Find the Argument
  • Find supporting evidence in the text, this is needed before we analyse our possible answers.
  • Eliminate easy options
  • These will be the answers that are opposite to what you want (ex. Strengthen instead of weakening)
  • Determine which answer strengthens or weakens the argument THE MOST

The argument is clearly in favour of banning deepwater drilling, and the reasons are because of the impacts it has. What is the evidence the author uses to show the impacts? It used the example of a USA undersea oil leak that resulted in damage to wildlife, was expensive to clear up, and destroyed the livelihood of poor people working in the area. The question is asking us to weaken the argument, so that the best candidate for a response will either weaken a piece of evidence or provide additional evidence (weakening).

A. The risks of deepwater drilling were known prior to the accident in the USA.

This is not being denied by the author, the author is trying to say that the risks outweigh the rewards. Even if the risks were known beforehand, the author’s argument is based on the aftermath and factors in these risks to future events. Therefore A is not the correct answer.

B. Oil companies involved in the accident in the USA paid money to compensate the victims.

This does not change the problem or prevent it from happening in the future, the damage is done. Compensation can help but it does not change the reasons why the author believes that it should be banned. The author does not talk about compensation for victims or the actions of the company after, rather just the effects of the drilling itself. Therefore B is incorrect.

C. A ban on deepwater drilling would cause oil prices to rise, which would affect poor people most.

This weakens the argument by attacking one of the pieces of evidence the author states. The author states that the result of deep sea drilling in the accident in the USA destroyed the liveliness of these people, but this answer option says that it would also destroy them financially if the ban came into place. Therefore it would attack the evidence and weaken the argument. C is correct.

D. Oil companies will operate more safely in future than they did before the accident in the USA.

This does not really weaken the argument because it does not guarantee that there will be no accidents in the future. The author believes that the risk outweighs the reward, so even if there is a safer operation in the future, it does not eliminate the possibility of accidents in the future, and all it takes is one. Therefore D is incorrect.

E. Alternatives to fossil fuels may eventually be able to meet our energy needs.

This could strengthen the argument instead of weakening it. It would be another reason to ban this drilling because we could turn to more sustainable energy sources without suffering the losses we would if we stopped drilling. Therefore E is also incorrect.