Rhetorical Analysis

AJ McKay English 101 Sarah Nolan 11/14/10 Rhetorical Analysis As a society grows and develops, there are many issues the people must face during the process. One of the most important problems modern civilizations must solve is where and how they get their energy. In our day and age, we rely heavily on fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas, and oil. Patrick Moore, a writer for the Washington Post, composes an argument for nuclear power and recommends that it should be the future for all things energy.

Moore’s argument is a convincing article that would most likely pull many neutral readers to see his side very clearly. The article gives all the pros to the uses of nuclear energy, and does an excellent job of addressing all possible counter-arguments. Even though the use of pathos is minimal, he uses a good deal of ethos, and above all, logos to convey his message to his audience. Although the essay is very structured and well written, some aspects of the article seem to be very opinionated and stray from a logical, biased argument.

But credit is given where it is due, and overall, Moore’s argument very good one. Neutral readers looking for good information on the topic would most likely find themselves agreeing with this argument. Right off the bat, author Sir Patrick Moore establishes his credibility by addressing his audience as an early environmentalist who “…helped found Greenpeace in the 1970’s” (Moore 1). As a result, the next thing the reader may begin to notice is the fact that Moore seems to be very knowledgeable on the subject. He uses large amounts of logos to present a strong logical side to his argument.

The article effectively compares the pollution rates of fossil fuels plants to those of nuclear power plants, while at the same time incorporating a detailed history of nuclear power. Moore displays his in depth knowledge with statements such as, “The 600-plus coal-fired plants emit nearly 2 billion tons of CO2annually — the equivalent of the exhaust from about 300 million automobiles. In addition, the Clean Air Council reports that coal plants are responsible for 64 percent of sulfur dioxide emissions, 26 percent of nitrous oxides and 33 percent of mercury emissions” o convey the crucial message that our atmosphere is in danger as long as we continue on this path. The article uses a very unique way of incorporating pathos. Rather than blatantly attacking a reader’s emotion, he uses words and phrases embedded in the text to slowly sway the emotional standpoint of his audience. Phrases such as, “Imagine what our country would be if” and, “This would go a long way towards” indicate the small amount of pathos that this otherwise very serious author expresses in his article. Although the passage lacks pathos, the ethos and logos make it an extremely good argument.

But in spite of how good the ethos and logos are, the article may have an even stronger form of persuasion. Patrick Moore’s counter-arguments may in fact be the most important factor his review has to offer. After extensively researching the negative effects of nuclear energy, I noticed that Moore addresses every single major argument against the new method. Before he begins to focus on the negative arguments he states, “That’s not to say that there aren’t real problems — as well as various myths — associated with nuclear energy.

Each concern deserves careful consideration:” indicating that he has done research on each and every argument. As the reader continues through the article, he or she will notice that each argument is suppressed by straight up facts and out of the box ideas that make absolute sense. Moore’s strength in using ethos and logos continues to be an extremely persuasive tactic as each argument is picked apart and analyzed. After individually attacking each dispute, he finishes his counter-argument segment by summarizing all the arguments and using it as one last punch.

He states that many things have been used to kill many people. Minor things like machetes and diesel fuel can be responsible for death of millions (Moore 2). Moore then finishes his summary with what could possibly be the most influential sentence in the entire article, “If we banned everything that can be used to kill people, we would never have harnessed fire” (Moore 2). Although Patrick Moore’s article on nuclear energy is definitely a force to be reckoned with, it isn’t flawless. There are certainly some key parts in the text that indicate a strong opinion.

Now this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the way it’s used can come across to someone as unbiased. While addressing the counter-argument Nuclear fuel can be diverted to make nuclear weapons: Moore finishes his defense with, “But just because nuclear technology can be put to evil purposes is not an argument to ban its use” (Moore 2). Whether someone agrees with this statement or not, it is not a suitable way to end such a critical argument. Thus, identifying a crucial flaw in his seemingly perfect counter-argument section.

Moore’s strong opinion also leads him into another trap that, if a reader becomes aware of it, can make his point less effective. If analyzed well enough, a reader can distinguish the fact that the author’s one-sided standpoint can affect his honesty and, as a result, diminish his credibility. For example, at one point towards the end of his article he states, “The 600-plus coal-fired plants emit nearly 2 billion tons of CO2annually — the equivalent of the exhaust from about 300 million automobiles” (Moore 2).

Approximately one paragraph later he says, “Meanwhile, the 103 nuclear plants operating in the United States effectively avoid the release of 700 million tons of CO2emissions annually — the equivalent of the exhaust from more than 100 million automobiles” (Moore 2). A simple mathematical evaluation shows that a nuclear power plant emits nearly twice as much CO2 as a coal-fired plant, which doesn’t help his argument at all. In conclusion, Patrick Moore’s argument for nuclear power is a very convincing piece of work. But just like every other review out there, it isn’t perfect.

Because of such a strong one-sided opinion at times, his argument can seem unbiased and his credibility can be questioned. However, all of that aside, Moore does an outstanding job of pointing out his facts and addressing all potential counter-arguments. The article is well structured, well supported, and well written. Ultimately, anyone who reads this from a neutral standpoint will more than likely side with Moore. The borderline superior logos combined with a massive and effective counter-argument segment, make this argument extremely difficult to oppose.

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