Jeremy Rifkin's Hydrogen: Empowering the People

Jeremy Rifkin's Hydrogen: Empowering the People

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Jeremy Rifkin's Hydrogen: Empowering the People
Fossil fuels empower the world that we live in. Everything from cars, heating for homes, and electricity use fossil fuels. However, fossil fuels are not a renewable source, and the crisis that we face as human beings is that it is running out. An alternative to fossil fuels is hydrogen fuel. The replacement of fossil fuels with hydrogen fuels has been debated for a long time. Some people believe that hydrogen fuel has great potential to replace fossil fuel, while others believe that it is something that may not be achievable at this time. Jeremy Rifkin, a social activist, wrote an article entitled, "Hydrogen: Empowering the People". He believes that hydrogen fuel indeed has great potential and can also benefit society greatly. On the other hand, author Michael Behar believes that hydrogen fuel is actually barred by great financial, political, and technological obstacles in his article, "Warning: The Hydrogen Economy May Be More Distant That it Appears". Both authors use different rhetoric styles to carry out their arguments. In this paper, I will attempt to analyze the rhetoric styles used by both these authors to support their arguments, and show how their arguments may be either strengthened or weakened by their styles.
The first point of view supports the use of hydrogen fuel. Social activist Jeremy Rifkin argues that fossil fuels present a problem because they are not replaceable and that hydrogen fuels could not only replace the different usages for fossil fuels, and also help shape the economy and society as a hole.

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He believes in hydrogen providing the possibility of "making energy available in every community of the world" (pg. 111) since it exists all over the planet. The second point of view opposes the usage of hydrogen fuels. Michael Behar argues that hydrogen economy isn't exactly as it seems. He argues that there are many obstacles that prevent hydrogen fuel from becoming a suitable alternative to fossil fuels. He argues that hydrogen fuel isn't exactly available in large quantities. He says that the hydrogen atoms are "bound up in molecules with other elements, and we must expend energy to extract the hydrogen so it can be used in fuel cells." (pg. 112) He also argues that hydrogen won't necessarily end global warming, and has many technological barriers that still exist.
Jeremy Rifkin's arguments focus on the societal benefits of using hydrogen fuel cells. He argues that hydrogen fuels are renewable and an absolute effective and long-term viability of a new energy source. Hydrogen does not omit CO2, which is the main concern of fossil fuels. The CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels greatly harms the environment. In terms of the society, his arguments that it would benefit from the usage of hydrogen comes from an idea that hydrogen fuel could enable a decentralization of energy. He believes that by doing so, communities would "be able to produce many of their own goods and services and consume the fruits of their own labor locally." (pg. 110)
Michael Behar's arguments surround the idea that hydrogen fuel would actually not be appropriate within the near future. His arguments surround the idea that technology, finances, and politics all play parts in restricting the advancement of hydrogen fuel. He argues that although hydrogen does not produce the harmful CO2 that fossil fuels do, but the early stages of the hydrogen economy would still be running on fossil fuels. This creates an ironic argument against people who believe that hydrogen cars would actually decrease pollution. He also presents many facts that support the fact that hydrogen cannot actually run on renewable energy. He believes that the amount of renewable energy required to produce the hydrogen demanded would be impossible to achieve. Lastly, he argues that the research and development of hydrogen fuel just isn't being emphasized in this country. He states that even the Bush administration has emphasized less on hydrogen fuel than healthy marriages.
Rifkin's arguments, in my opinion, present more weaknesses than strengths. His strength includes his theological view on the beneficial factors for the society. His use of facts and theories to support his idea of a better society helps strengthen his article. He presents positive points in using hydrogen fuel to promote a better economy and society. However, Rifkin fails to explain the obstacles in the development of hydrogen fuel. He only touches briefly on the obstacles that would have to be overcome to achieve decentralized energy grids, but he does not even cover the finances, technological, or political obstacles that should be expected. Without a strong supporting statement for the opposition, his article cannot be believable. Also, although he uses certain facts and theories to support his arguments, he fails to back them up with credible sources. This may lead to the reader losing confidence in his article and arguments.
Behar, on the other hand, has a much stronger argument. His side is actually structured better than Rifkin's. Behar presents all of the false perceptions for hydrogen fuel, and then explains the opposition in detail. For instance, he agrees that fuel cells do not produce CO2, and would by itself not harm the environment. He then goes on to explain how the initial process of extracting hydrogen from water through electrolysis would actually produce CO2, and that the net CO2 produced would be greater. His article presents a positive reinforcement for using hydrogen fuel in each of the perceptions, and then he debunks it by elaborating on the falsities of the statements. The heading to the segments catches the readers attention and encourages them to read about what he has to say. He presents numerous facts along with analytical approaches to his arguments, which overall presents a strong article. His facts are backed by quotes from articles and statements from scientists, so his source is credible and thus creates confidence and belief in readers. I could not really find a weakness for Behar's article. I felt that his rhetoric style matched with his knowledge and facts gave his article an overall edge and convincing argument.
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