Nicholas Kristof wrote a compelling article titled “Our Gas Guzzlers, Their Lives”. In the article he is arguing that wealthier country’s greenhouse gas emissions are severely damaging life in many African countries. In fact Charles Ehrhart, a Care staff member in Kenya, states, “The negative impact of the West’s carbon emissions will overwhelm the positive effects of aid” (Kristof 580). So although we are trying to aid, it is our lifestyles that are damaging these peoples’ environment. Nicholas does a spectacular job presenting his case and giving evidence for his claims. Kristof produces an effective argument because of his stellar development of ethos, logos and pathos.
Nicholas D. Kristof is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist known for his rhetoric on human sufferings in third-world countries (Writing Arguments 579). Clearly Kristof is knowledgeable on the controversy he is discussing, which is the first step in establishing a sound ethos. His background knowledge on impoverished countries combined with his evident care for helping these countries continues to build his ethos. Kristof obviously cares a lot about helping struggling countries as he set up a foundation in which he takes one student a year on a reporting trip to help educate young people on the injustices taking place in third world countries. Nicholas does a great job developing his ethos in his essay and his prior experience in the field only adds to his credibility, which in turn makes his essay more persuasive. Aside from displaying and building a good ethos Nicholas also excelled in formulating an effective logos.
Kristof shines in his development of his logos. He uses a plethora of different sources to construct his argument from many points of views. The main point that he is trying to make is that the carbon emissions from wealthy countries in the West are seriously damaging third world countries through global warming. Throughout his passage, Nicholas cites multiple sources to support his argument. He uses experts on agricultural science, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and even a local African fisherman (579). This array of different sources gives insight to many different viewpoints. The scientific experts help give statistics and trends which strengthen Kristof’s logos.
For example the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that, “’Projected reductions in yield in some countries could be as much as 50 percent by 2020, and crop net revenues could fall as much as 90 percent’”(Kristof 579,580). This is some pretty compelling evidence and it is given by an expert, which makes Kristof’s logos stronger. Using the local fisherman and a Care staff member from Kenya also helps make the argument more effective. By using people who are right there day in and day out it makes the story persuasive. They are living the climate change and can tell. Fisherman Alexand Mbarubukeye states, “’Even the hippos are unhappy’”(Kristof 579). Aside from making his logos stronger the locals also help add to Kristof’s pathos, because the audience can sympathize with the people experiencing this first hand.
Nicholas Kristof does a great job developing ethos and logos, and he ends his argument by taking a pathetic approach. Throughout the passage Nicholas talks about how so many people have died with a main factor being competition for scarce resources. Climate change is only making resources scarcer, so an audience can obviously sympathize with the people being harmed. Kristof closes his passage with, “ The cost of our environmental irresponsibility will be measured in thousands of children dying of hunger, malaria, and war” (580). This was an extremely effective closing to his speech. He left the audience with a bang, basically saying if we don’t change our ways of excessive carbon consumption, people will die. This is where his pathos is most evident. By exciting the audience’s passions in the last line, Kristof left his mark and closed his speech perfectly.
In short, “Our Gas Guzzlers, Their Lives” was a very interesting article. To add on, it was also a very effective form of rhetoric. Nicholas Kristof establishes his argument that Western carbon emissions are seriously threatening life in Africa. Throughout his speech he gives countless pieces of evidence and even local testimonies for support. Aside from developing a good logos Kristof has a great ethos too. Prior to this speech he was very educated on third-world countries and world economics (Writing Arguments 579). Throughout the speech, you can also tell how much he cared about the issue. His caring about this and his story of how thousands of people will lose their lives was a perfect demonstration of pathos. All in all Nicholas Kristof developed a great and effective argument, and even covered counter points.
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