Rhetorical Analysis of McKibben’s Article, Power Play Endangers Hawaii's Rain Forest

Rhetorical Analysis of McKibben’s Article, Power Play Endangers Hawaii's Rain Forest

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Rhetorical Analysis of McKibben’s Article, Power Play Endangers Hawaii's Rain Forest

Protecting Hawaii’s rain forest from the invasion of Corporate America is Bill McKibben’s intention as an environmentalist. His 28-paragraph article, “Power Play Endangers Hawaii’s Rain Forest,” appeared in Rolling Stone, a popular culture magazine, on May 31, 1990. He argues that producing power through geothermal drilling harms the Wao Kele o Puna rain forest, the environment, and the people that live nearby. He also presents alternative methods for power, hoping that people will consider these, such as solar-water heating systems and energy efficient gadgets. Unfortunately, his elevated, subjective stance and attempt to convince his audience through emotion distracts the reader from considering the other side of the argument because he appears to be a reliable, educated author.

McKibben’s writing style makes it difficult for readers to truly understand the argument he presents; therefore, they are gullible to accepting his opinions. McKibben embarks on a rampage in this article, seeming to continuously ramble on with concepts that fly over the average person’s head. He uses words such as “Class C forest,” “A-2 forest,” “peak-load electricity,” “geothermal drilling,” and “hydrogen sulfide emissions.” McKibben must not be thinking of his audience because for the audience to grasp his argument thoroughly he needs to define these concepts well. If he were writing for a science magazine in which his audience would be well educated in environmental issues, his writing style would be accepted. But this article appeared in Rolling Stone where the audience is not educated on these issues. His bitter and intense voice makes the reader feel as if th...


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...and often sits in the dark when the sun is not out to express his dissatisfaction with exploiting the resources of the rain forest. McKibben inserts this example because it makes the reader feel that he has an obligation to save the rain forest at the expense of their comfort. Therefore, McKibben’s tactics aim to move the reader into an emotional ride of responsibility to the rain forest versus living life normally.

In conclusion, McKibben’s writing style and use of pathos sway the reader to accept his argument as truth even though his arguments may not be valid. Since McKibben portrays himself as a credible author, the audience believes him especially because he is writing to the general public through a pop culture magazine. The issue of preserving the rain forest versus using the resources that it provides will continue to be in debate in the years to come.

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