Is our infatuation with the environment destroying it?

yellowstone 1

Photo courtesy

In recent decades, it has becoming overwhelmingly clear that humans have degraded the once pristine environment that we live in today. Because more people have become aware of this negative trend, movements in society have ushered in an era of environmental concern, stressing concepts of preservation, smarter consumption methods, and respect for the planet. It has become trendy to support conservation efforts, which sounds like a victory for the environment as a whole. However, many seem to be too gung-ho about the beauty of the great outdoors and find themselves abandoning city life and perusing a life off the grid. To these brave adventurers, this may seem to be a great idea. By relocating to the countryside, their ecological footprint would greatly reduce along with their contribution to carbon emissions. Unfortunately, this logic may not hold up. In areas such as the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, where private and public lands intersect, there has been a surge in the human population. This human development occurring so closely to Yellowstone National Park intrudes on species’ habits and migration patterns, putting them at risk of facing a decline despite their protected status. Although the settlers of this area have pure intentions, they may be disrupting a thriving ecosystem by bringing human development closer and closer to the natural haven known as Yellowstone National Park.


Photo Courtesy

The author, Todd Wilkinson, sets the scene in Bozeman, Montana, an area located outside of Yellowstone National Park, by describing the imagery and history of the land, which creates a sense of attachment for readers. This immediate appeal to emotion hooks the audience and causes them to be more inclined to support the author’s claims. Additionally, the author incorporates pathos in the title of the article, “Are We Loving Yellowstone to Death?”. This question explores society’s motivations and provides a new perspective on how human activities are impacting the environment. In the past, we have discussed the ways in which our harmful activities hurt ecosystems. In this case, activities that appear to be beneficial are also rattling the well-being of the environment. By caring for the environment too much, we are still damaging it. The author also includes photos of residents that live in the area and caption the challenges they face living so close to an ecological utopia. This provides the audience with another perspective on the situation. Wilkinson uses the photos to make the residents relatable, capturing the dilemma living in this ecosystem at the cost of the species that called it home first. However, the author does not allow the animals to go unheard. He includes a photo of a tranquilized bear that must be relocated after wreaking havoc on now privately owned land, land that animals were once free to roam. Wilkinson also shares of interactions between man and the wild, incorporating a video that tells the story of Nic Patrick, a man who survived an attack by a grizzly bear. Despite his close call to death, Patrick claims that there is no bad blood between him and the bear and he understands that residing in this area puts him at risk of bear encounters. This situation reflects the idea that human intrusion on natural environments is an attack on the area’s species. By emphasizing the health and well-being of both humans and the potential loss of animals, the audience is able to connect with the author’s thoughts and claims.


This article appeared in National Geographic, a source that concerns itself with worldly environmental issues. The author, Todd Wilkinson, is a professional journalist that specializes in the coverage of environmental problems and happenings. He is from the American West, which he writes many of his stories about. The author’s credibility is emphasized through his professional credentials and personal experience. For instance, this article explores the issues occurring in Yellowstone National Park, an area close to where Wilkinson once resided. His ability to incorporate personal experience allow the audience to find his statements more believable, which increases the likelihood that readers will agree with the author. In addition, the article relies on conservation experts such as Dennis Glick and Andy Hansen. Glick is the founder of Future West, a conservation group. Hansen is a conservation biologist and professor at Montana State University. Because both of these sources have backgrounds in conservation and are located in the region in which the article refers to, their credibility is heightened. As a reader, I thought that the article should have used more sources, such as a source that refutes Wilkinson’s argument. This would give another perspective to readers, helping them to form more informed opinions.


In order to back up his claims, Wilkinson relied on research and facts about the land surrounding Yellowstone National Park. For example, when exploring the topic of human effects on the land, the author reported that the number of parcels of land with one house per 40 acres increased 328 percent from 1970 to 2010. This alarming percentage opens readers’ eyes and causes them to see the extent of the issue presented. Additionally, the author claims that by 2020, between 5 and 40 percent of habitats within Yellowstone National Park will be converted from farmland to urban development. By providing a window into the future, Wilkinson creates a call to action for readers.


When I read the title of the article, my first thought was that it didn’t make sense. How could our love for the environment harm it? As a human population, it seems as though we can’t win. Our wasteful habits destroy ecosystems, but at the same time, our desire to care for the environment hurts it as well. This double-edged sword presents an issue for our society. We must find a middle ground for our interactions with the environment in order to protect and preserve it.

Link to article

Additional Sources


Red Colobus Monkey Defies Extinction…For Now

Despite the growing trend in extinction rates, hunting animals continues to be a popular activity. Many argue that hunting promotes conservation, however, the rapidly decreasing population sizes of animals everywhere refutes this idea. While many species are on the chopping block, this article, Monkey Hunting Could Drive This Species Extinct, focuses on the alarming loss of the red colobus monkey. The loud noises it makes allows for the species to be a prime and easy to locate target for hunters. Demand for these monkeys has increased due to the growth of the bush meat trade, an industry that relies on animals such as monkeys, porcupines, and rats for their meat. While bush meat may not sound appealing to those with even the strongest stomachs, a new trend in many African nations has caused people to embrace the bush meat industry. As time goes on and animal species become more vulnerable, eating wild animal meat has become a symbol of status and wealth. While many animals are at risk due to this growing fad, the red colobus monkey is severely threatened due to the species’ slow reproduction rates. As African cities continue to urbanize and develop, more people will infiltrate into the culture, contributing further to the endangerment of the monkey species.

Procolobus kirkii
Red Colobus Monkey (Procolobus kirkii) in Jozani Forest, Zanzibar, Tanzania

Photo courtesy

Janie Actman, author of the article, serves as a wildlife research for National Geographic’s Special Investigation Unit. Her skills and experience in this field cause her to be a credible source on the topic of species endangerment. The article’s appearance in National Geographic emphasizes how extreme the issue is since it is put on a large platform where it can reach a wide number of viewers. To further establish credibility, the author cites viable source including scientists with the Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program, Drew Cronin, a conservation biologist at Drexel University, and John Fa, an ecologist at Manchester Metropolitan University. By including each sources background and expertise on the issue, Actman is able to provide reliable facts to the audience. These expert opinions strengthen the author’s argument and serve as solid evidence to support the presented claims.

blog 4-3

Photo courtesy

In order to convey the grave dangers that the red colobus monkey population is currently facing, Actman shares facts and statistics concerning the dwindling numbers of the species. The author depends the most on the use of logos due to the fact that the issue follows the declining trend of species’ populations and the money that hunting these animals generates. For example, the author reports “hunters can rake in $2,000 a year selling their meat, while 77 percent of the country lives on less than $750 a year” (Actman). This claim provides a sense of reasoning as to why the animals are hunted. In a society where income is minimal and the standard of living is low, methods for earning money are scarce. While hunting may appear to be inhumane and somewhat primitive, the former statistic proves that it may be necessary in terms of sustainability. On the other hand, Actman acknowledges hunting’s impact on monkey populations claiming that the Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program surveyed the meat market and found that “about 35,000 monkey carcasses for sale between 1997 and 2010. In other words, about seven primates were killed every day to stock the market in Malabo” (Actman). This fact emphasizes the ongoing loss of monkeys and draws attention away from the opposing economic side. The logic and reasoning the author provides contributes to the validity of Actman’s argument and provides further perspective into the endangerment of species.

For a topic surrounding the death of animals, this article used surprisingly few emotional appeals. Aside from including photos of the red colobus monkey, Actman did not craft words or phrases that pulled at readers’ heartstrings. Rather than focusing on the devastating nature of this topic, the author chose to concentrate more heavily on the use of facts, statistics, and credible sources. In my opinion, Actman’s argument would have been more effective if emotional appeals were used. When an issue is accompanied by negative effects, it is important to capitalize on the drama and sadness. Doing so causes the audience to connect with and relate more to your view on the issue and ultimately strengthens the argument.

Overall, I believe that the article was effective in conveying the ongoing decrease in the population of the red colobus monkey. By referring to trustworthy sources and including facts backed by evidence, Actman was able to establish a strong argument that acknowledges the declining presence of the monkey population. However, I think that if emotional appeals were included, the author could have gained even more support. In addition, strong emotional appeals can cause readers to want to engage in action. This idea of action is important because in order to put a stop to the hunting of these primates, immediate action and participation is necessary. By embracing change in cultures and advocating for those that can’t speak for themselves, the endangerment of animal species due to hunting can be hindered.


Link to article:


Additional links:


The Fight to Remedy Climate Change Lands Protesters in Jail

The everlasting argument over climate change seems to uncover two different groups of people: those that acknowledge the presence of global warming and choose to accept it and those who refuse to remain silent as we continue to pollute and destroy the planet. The article, Environmental Activists Take to Local Protests for Global Results by John Schwartz, appeared in the New York Times earlier this month and calls attention to the action people are taking in order to prohibit the expansion of facilities that have a detrimental impact on the environment. The protesters’ response comes as a result of the growing concern over climate change and how it is affecting earth’s ecosystems and patterns. Unfortunately, the protesters’ efforts have been met by the force of the authorities, as many have been arrested following local protests concerning the drilling of natural gas pipelines. Those on the opposing side argue that the use of natural gas reduces dependence on dirty fossil fuels and therefore find the argument of the protesters to be somewhat ironic. As the issue of climate change continues to become more prominent in society’s discussions, it is important to understand the side effects associated with proposed solutions and take into account whether they alleviate or intensify the situation.

blog 3

Natural gas pipelines are thought to be a better alternative to other fossil fuels.

Photo courtesy of:

Schwartz’s article was published by the New York Times, a longstanding and reputable newspaper. Being published on such a large platform emphasizes the severity of the climate change issue and maximizes the number of people Schwartz is able to reach. The author, John Schwartz, is an environmental science writer who focuses on the topic of global warming. His background in this field allows him to be a credible source that readers can rely on to deliver appropriate and accurate information. To further establish credibility and gain the respect and support of readers, the author relies on several sources including Bill McKibben, a climate evangelist, Donald F. Santa, chief executive of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, Phil West of Spectra Energy, Patrick Robbins, co-director of the Sane Energy Project, and Michael A. Levi, an energy expert at the Council of Foreign Relations. The work and background of these sources are consistent with the topic of the article, providing readers with the satisfaction that what they are reading is bias in no way and correct. In addition, these sources offer further insight into the overall issue of climate change and allow for expert opinions that help to mold readers’ perceptions.

With a topic as popular as climate change, there are of variety of passionate opinions. Those that believe in and fear climate change are often very invested in the issue, much like the protesters showcased in the article. Therefore, it is not uncommon for emotional appeals to be used in order to convince the public that the destruction of our environment could be near. Schwartz appeals to readers by including a quote from a local math teacher in North Carolina, Greg Yost. Following the protesting of the construction of natural gas pipelines in his North Carolina town, Yost claimed, “we’re all in this together” (Schwartz 2016). This act of coming together against a cause creates a sense of unity and further convinces readers that climate change can have deadly effects. In addition, using a local math teacher as a source creates a down-to-earth vibe due to the use of a relatable figure. If this emotional appeal didn’t do the trick, Schwartz also used a quote from one of the arrested protesters, who said that climate change is “a life-or-death struggle” (Schwartz 2016). This phrase emphasizes the dangers associated with climate change, prompting readers to take action out of the fear instilled within them upon the mention of death. These appeals work to strengthen Schwartz’s argument and express the colossal nature of global warming.

When discussing the scientific matter of climate change, relying on logic and facts is necessary. For example, those on the opposing side of the protesters argue that protesters are negating their claims by protesting natural gas, while natural gas is an effective alternative to other fossil fuels. However, protesters argue that natural gas is a harmful greenhouse gas with an even larger impact than carbon dioxide. This concept poses an interesting counterargument to the idea that a natural gas pipeline would help to combat climate change. The science seems to be on both sides of the argument, which is why it is important to acknowledge all of the effects associated with each option and decide which one is most beneficial for the well being of the environment.


Photo courtesy of:

While it is important to search for cleaner sources of energy, natural gas can negatively impact the earth. In addition, the fracking required disrupts ecosystems and can harm nearby populations. Natural gas has proven to be just as dangerous as the emission of carbon dioxide, causing the drilling of pipelines and wells to be unfit solutions. Unfortunately, the answer to climate change is not going to come overnight. However, until the solution makes itself known, it is important to explore other alternatives that prioritize the health and welfare of the environment.

Link to article

Other references:


Nuclear Energy Stirs Up Trouble at Yucca Mountain

The use of nuclear plants to generate energy has become more common throughout the US and the rest of the world. Due to its lighter carbon footprint, many have began to embrace the concept of nuclear energy. While it may seem more eco-friendly, the byproducts of nuclear fuel can be harmful to nearby populations and can also be used to make nuclear weapons, prompting a potential attack on the nation’s safety and security. In attempt to satisfy the public, it has been proposed that the spent nuclear fuel be stored in large rock formations in more remote areas. However, after the proposal to store nuclear fuel in Yucca Mountain was accepted, members of local communities surrounding Yucca Mountain came forward, expressing their concern about living so close to the dangerous byproducts of nuclear energy. Derrick Broze of Mintpress News addresses these concerns in his article, The Battle Continues to Stop Yucca Mountain From Becoming a Nuclear Waste Dump. After discussing with locals from tribes nearby the mountain, Broze shares the idea that the locals feel as if they are being put at risk of harmful sicknesses and diseases by living in an area contaminated by nuclear waste. This “unfair” decision to dump waste into what these tribes call home are “purely political”, according to environmental groups, and target a small population in an effort to please the rest of the public. Despite the remote location of Yucca Mountain, the ‘not in my backyard’ mindset remains relevant, causing controversy over nuclear energy to become even more explosive.

Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Site

Photo courtesy of:

Derrick Broze, author of the article, uses the idea of communicating with the public in order to strengthen his argument. Broze relies on very few facts or statistics to support his claim, making his humanistic and personal appeals that much more important.

Throughout the article and discussions with those living close to Yucca Mountain, it becomes apparent that the tribes are afraid they will be forced to “suffer” from the effects of the byproducts of nuclear energy. The use of the word “suffer” causes the audience to sympathize with the local tribes and worry for their health ad wellbeing. Using a word with such a negative connotation gives the reader a greater understanding of how the locals feel, increasing the likelihood that the audience will support the author’s claims. In addition, the concept of hope is often referred to. The attempts to put a halt to the transformation of the mountain into a dump site is an ongoing battle and while the tribes continue to fight the plan, they must also have hope that their home will not be destroyed. This emotional appeal allows readers to relate to the locals and may impact their view on the concept of nuclear energy. Ian Zaparte, a local near Yucca Mountain goes as far to say that dumping nuclear waste into the mountain is “an act of genocide.” The use of a word as harsh as genocide reminds readers of past events that have resulted in loss and tragedy and emphasizes the seriousness of the issue. Broze also uses photos to supplement his article, depicting many photos of locals and heavy machinery found throughout the lands occupying Yucca Mountain. These pictures give the audience insight to what this population is undergoing and how it is affecting them. The emotional strategies Broze uses are the basis of his argument and provide a better understanding of the risky situation currently occurring.


yucca man

Photo courtesy of:

In an effort to establish the credibility of his argument, Broze refers to the work of many environmental and anti-nuclear groups. For example, Beyond Nuclear, Greenspace, Center for Health, Environment and Justice, and the International Society for Ecology all teamed up the write a letter to president Obama claiming that the decision to dispose of nuclear energy byproducts in Yucca Mountain was “purely political.” By including the efforts of opinions of accredited environmental groups, the audience is more likely to believe and support Broze’s argument.

While the author is able to successfully communicate the opinions and voices of the locals, there seemed to be an emotional disconnect accompanied by the lack of logic and concrete evidence. When reading this article, I pretended to have no viewpoint on the topic and wanted to see if the author could convince me that dumping waste in Yucca Mountain was a bad idea all around. However, after finishing the article, I had no desire to rush off to Nevada and picket the dumping of nuclear waste. While Broze used many emotional appeals, they were quite weak and did not strike a chord with me. For example, the photos in the article pictured locals smiling. This confused me as a reader because while the locals were expressing their fear of suffering, the pictures portrayed an entirely different idea. This contradiction interferes with the punch that emotional appeals often packs and is less effective in convincing the audience that dumping waste in the mountain is a bad idea. In addition to the absence of strong emotional appeals, the article presents little to no evidence or facts to support the argument. Almost all of the article is based off of the claims of locals. While this testimony is important to include, the skills of argument should be balanced and provide an array of techniques to convince readers. Performing a study on the effects o nuclear byproduct waste would have given hard evidence as to whether the waste is dangerous. It is difficult to deny proven facts, making it important to include studies and research that will allow for an irrefutable argument. In order to successfully convince the audience that dumping nuclear energy waste is extremely hazardous, Broze needs to stick to the facts and provide readers with a happy medium of evidence and emotional appeals. Doing so will eliminate confusion and allow for the argument against nuclear energy to stand its ground.

Link to the article


Additional resources:

Climate Change Causes Cut-back of Crops

calentamiento-global-amenaza-fuentes-alimenticiasThe much debated topic of climate change never fails to spark passionate opinions from those on either side of the issue. However, as crop failure becomes more prominent following increasingly warm temperatures, the global warming conversation is heating up and raising concern about the future.

The article, Crop Failure and Fading Food Supplies: Climate Change’s Lasting Impact, was written by Marlene Cimons earlier this month and calls into question climate change’s effect on the agricultural industry. Cimons claims that as temperatures become more extreme, droughts are more likely to plague certain areas, putting a halt to the growth of crops needed to sustain our population. Studies have found that harvests have dramatically decreased due to recent droughts. While this will not put an end to the production of crops, it will definitely have an impact on consumers’ wallets as researchers predict an increase in the price of common crops. This rise in cost is sure to devastate those living below the poverty line, prompting an increase in child malnutrition levels. To makes matters worse, the impact of droughts is much greater today than ever before and is predicted to become even more drastic. Adapting crops to be able to withstand more extreme temperatures can combat food insecurity. This process may be pricy, but is necessary in order to regain control over the production of crops we consume daily.

Cimons’ heavy use of rhetoric emphasizes the issue of climate change and its disruption of the growth of food. The article immediately establishes credibility by including the author’s accomplishments and countless publications. By placing this information before the articles begins, the reader gains an understanding of the previous work Cimons has done, solidifying her as a reputable figure in the audience’s mind. Readers are less likely to believe and replicate the thoughts of the author if he or she lacks experience in the field.

The article provides facts and numbers accumulated through research, further compelling readers to accept and trust what they are reading. For example, the article claims “the average impact of recent droughts — those between 1985 and 2007 — was a 13.7 percent loss, which is 7 percent greater than the 6.7 percent impact during droughts that occurred earlier, between 1964 and 1984.” By including results from accredited universities (Columbia), Cimons is able to provide unbiased data to her readers. This allows the numbers to do the talking and lets the reader develop their own opinions based on the information given.

While numerical data and proven facts are effective in gaining audience approval, Cimons also relies on subtle emotional appeals to further intrigue readers. When discussing the impact of climate change on the production of crops, Cimons reveals that the decrease in crop yields will launch the price of regularly consumed goods, putting those living on low incomes in jeopardy. The issue of child malnutrition is also introduced, a concept that pulls at the readers’ heartstrings and makes the issue of climate change more personal. Cimons questions the future and progressiveness of a society that faces such conditions, causing the audience to develop a sense of concern for the world they are living in.

I am aware of the tense connotation that the term ‘global warming’ brings to the table. Despite numerous studies and increasingly obvious evidence, people flock passionately to either side and argue whether global warming is actually occurring and how it is impacting the way we live. It is clear from the article that Cimons is a firm believer in global warming and fears what it is doing to the environment and humanity. I think that the skills the author used were effective in gaining support of readers. Even if climate change does not exist in your mind, it is clear that the production of crops is suffering and something must be done to aid the issue. Cimons was not aggressive in her suggestion of global warming, which I assume was favorable among the readers. The author only touched on the idea of global warming a few times, choosing to focus primarily on the issue of the decrease in crop yields. This problem is something that everyone would be impacted by, making the audience more likely to agree with Cimons’ claims. Suggesting solutions to this issue also sparks reader interest by giving answers to questions developed throughout the article. Overall, Cimons’ use of heavy, effective rhetoric seems to promote the much-feared concept of global warming by addressing impacts that are sure to affect everyone in society.

Link to article here



About Me

My name is Sydney Washington and I am a sophomore majoring in strategic communication. Despite being surrounded by friends from out of state, McKinney, Texas is where I call home. As a child, I moved around a handful of times but am forever grateful that my family chose to settle down in Texas. Growing up here definitely influenced my decision to attend the best school in the world (go frogs).

When I’m not in class, I enjoy satisfying my unhealthy shopping addiction, listening to music, and going on fun adventures with my friends. I tend to drink excessive amounts of coffee, spend too much time planning every detail of my life on Pinterest and have enough purple in my closet to clothe the entire TCU population.