Henry: Engines powered by electricity from batteries cause less pollution than internal combustion engines. Therefore...

Lauren-Au on September 27, 2019

Why A?

Can someone please explain why A is the correct answer? I'm a little confused as to why the pollution being kept in small areas is sufficient to weaken the second argument? I didn't really see how it address the issue of power plants causing pollution. @lsatmax

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Irina on September 27, 2019


Let's look at the arguments each of the speakers is making.
Henry argues that battery-powered (electric vehicles) cause less pollution, therefore to reduce urban pollution we should switch to electric vehicles.
Umit disagrees saying that electric vehicles need to be recharged often, creating greater demand for electricity, thus more electricity will need to be generated by power plants resulting in more pollution.

What is the best counter to Umit?

There are a couple we can think of off the bet, perhaps the electric generation mix in the area is mostly clean energy - wind and solar, thus there is no additional pollution. Perhaps, the incremental demand for electricity is associated with less pollution compared to the amount of pollution from driving regular cars.

The correct answer choice (A) points out that pollution caused by power plants is usually confined to a small number locations a significant distance from major cities, meaning that any incremental energy demand for EVs will result in more pollution in these remote locations where the power plants are sited and will actually reduce the urban pollution in major cities. Since the argument concerns only URBAN pollution, the fact that incremental pollution will be in other than URBAN areas weakens Umit's argument.

Let me know if this helps and if you have any further questions.

Lauren-Au on October 15, 2019

@Irina could you also explain then why (B) and (E) are also wrong because I'm having difficulty understanding how we can eliminate these.

shunhe on December 21, 2019


The problem with (B) is the fact that one kind of pollution merely "offsets" another kind of pollution, resulting in the same overall amount of pollution even if it is of another kind. Thus, this answer does not weaken the argument.

The problem with (E) is that if power plants are below capacity and we have more demand for power, Umit may be correct because we know that there may be a greater pollution output resulting from the increased power demand. Hope that helps!

christophergogo on June 8, 2022

I think more specifically, (B) results in a net zero additional pollution. But, the first speaker is arguing for a reduction in pollution. So, while (B) does NOT increase pollution, it also does NOT decrease it either.

Emil-Kunkin on June 10, 2022

Hi Christophergogo,

I think the term "offset" leaves a degree of uncertainty. We know that these two things are working in opposite directions, but we do not know th magnitude, and the term "offset" is somewhat unclear. Offsetting could mean it partially offsets the other increase in other pollution, completely offsets it, or more than completely offsets it. The answer choice is not sufficiently clear- but your thinking that B does not prove a decrease in pollution is correct.