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Critical Analysis on, “Why You Should Fear Your Toaster More Than Nuclear Power,” by Taylor Pearson
The article, “Why You Should Fear Your Toaster More Than Nuclear Power”, by Taylor Pearson and published in chapter 8, “Arguments of Fact,” advocates for nuclear energy. Pearson argues that nuclear energy is clean, efficient, economic, and could be used as an alternative to fossil fuels. The purpose of the article is to persuade the reader and the general public to support the use of nuclear power to meet the increasing demand for energy. Pearson uses writing point of views and rhetorical appeals to convince the reader to support the use of nuclear power over fossil fuels.
Pearson writes to the general public to advocate for the use of nuclear energy, which is a promising form of energy. The main idea of the article is clear in the last two sentences of the introduction where the author takes a position. He writes, “We need nuclear energy. It’s clean, it’s efficient, it’s economic, and it’s probably the only thing that will enable us to quickly phase out fossil fuels.” (Pearson, in Lunsford and Ruszkiewicz 174). The statement communicates the main idea in the manner that the author states that we need nuclear energy, then goes ahead to give reasons why we need nuclear energy. Pearson does not end at giving the advantages of nuclear energy, he proceeds to address the critics under the title, “Death Toll.” Pearson states that although nuclear energy is dangerous and can kill, the number of accidents from nuclear energy as fewer than those caused by toasters. He writes, “The actual number of deaths caused by nuclear power plant accidents, even in the worst-case scenarios, have been few.” (174). For example, the Chernobyl accident, which is the most lethal incident to date killed only eighty-two people. Moreover, Pearson addresses the fears of radiation by arguing that people receive more radiation from a brick wall than from a power plant. Nonetheless, the author argues that nuclear energy does not emit greenhouse gases, which cause global warming. Pearson concludes the article by arguing that nuclear energy will meet the energy demands.
The author organized the article in form of an argumentative essay. The essay has an introduction, the body, which supports the main idea and provides a counter-argument. Finally, the author provides a conclusion. In the introduction, the author takes a stance and supports nuclear power. Pearson writes, “We need nuclear energy” (174). The statement shows the author’s position on the debate about nuclear energy. In the last sentence of the introduction, the author writes the main idea of the essay- the reasons for using nuclear energy. In the second paragraph, Pearson writes a counter-argument to the debate. Pearson uses a counter-argument strategy to refute the claims that nuclear power is a deadly form of energy. Pearson agrees that nuclear energy causes deaths, but states that they are few. He writes, “The actual number of deaths caused by nuclear power plant accidents, even in worst-case scenarios, been few.” (174). The author acknowledges that there have been deaths from nuclear power, but are few. Also, the author compares the safety of nuclear power and other forms of energy production, and states that nuclear power is remarkably safe. Moreover, Pearson states that people live in a radioactive world where they are exposed to radiation far more dangerous than that of nuclear energy. In the conclusion, Pearson calls upon the audience to embrace nuclear energy to meet the increasing demands for energy.
The author organizes the essay in headings to keep the reader on track. The heading used are, “DEATH TOLL, RADIATION, WASTE, and MEETING OUR ENERGY DEMANDS.” For instance, after the introduction, the author uses the heading, “DEATH TOLL”, to prepare the reader for what he wants to address. The heading is written in capital letters to make it conspicuous and emphasis the point of number of deaths from other sources of energy. Organizing the essay into headings helps to keep the reader on track. The author makes it easy to read, thus attracting a wide readership. Also, the use of headings helps the readers to scan or skim through the article and read only the parts he or she is interested in. The reader can return to the article and read the parts not read during the previous sitting. However, the organization of the article is so engaging such that it is difficult for the reader to put it down without reading to the end. Pearson organizes the words into coherent sentences, which a flowing structure. T
Pearson alternates between the use of first person, second person, and third person style of writing. The use of first-person approach to writing is inherent in the use of “We”. For example, Pearson writes, “We need nuclear energy.” (174), “We live in a radioactive world.” (176), “But even if we have little to fear from nuclear power plants themselves, what about the supposedly deadly by-products of these plants?” (177). “While the nuclear waste problem isn’t something to be too worried about, it would still be better if we could satisfy our demand for energy without producing waste, radioactive or otherwise.” (178). The quotes selected above have one thing in common- the use of “we”. The author uses the first-person point of view “we” to connect to the audience- general public. The use of “we” makes the audience to feel part of the problem and when people feel they are part of the problem, they are also part of the solution.
Pearson uses the second person point of view “you” to focus on the audience. For example, the title is, “Why you should fear your toaster more than nuclear energy.” (174), “So your toaster is far more likely to kill you than any nuclear power plant and subsequently give you a painfully embarrassing epitaph” (175). “If you care about saving human lives, then you should like nuclear energy.” (175). “However, it should comfort you to know (or perhaps) not that you receive more radiation from a brick wall than from a nuclear plant” (176). The use of the second person, “you” means that the author is talking to the reader. Also, the author gives the reader the central role in the story. When the audience see that they are the central role in the story, they would have an interest of reading or listening to the story to the end. The use of the second person, “you”, therefore, helps to engage the reader in the story.
Pearson uses the third person point of view, “they” to make some parts of the argument objective. For example, Pearson states, “Since accident occurred in 1986, an additional twelve people have died from the radiation they were exposed to during the accident.” (175). The author employs third person point of view to make the statement objective. Also, the author narrates stories in the article from the third person point of view to initiate objectivity in the argument. For example, he sates, “According to the U.S Department of Labor, coal mining currently causes about sixty-five deaths and eleven thousand injuries per year, while oil drilling is responsible for approximately 125 deaths per year in the United States.” (175). The use of third person point of view helps the author to convince the audience through another person’s eyes. Pearson uses third person point of view effectively to convince the audience that nuclear power is safer than coal energy.
The effectiveness of Pearson’s article is inherent in the use of evidence to convince the audience that nuclear power is safer than coal energy. For example, he states that nearly everything gives off at least a trace amount of radiation. He quotes an official from Tokyo Electric Power Company who said, “Water would have to be drunk for a whole year in order to accumulate one millisievert.” The statement means that even water emits radiation. Furthermore, Pearson quotes Laurence Williams, the British nuclear expert who said, “You would have to eat or drink an awful lot to get any level of radiation that would be harmful.” (176). Pearson effectively uses evidence and citing authoritative information to convince the reader that people live in a world of radiation, but it is not harmful.
Pearson treats the topic as argumentative. He argues that nuclear power is safer than fossil fuels energy. The author argues that fossil fuel energy has caused far more deaths than nuclear power energy. For example, Pearson writes, “…we’re pumping out billions of tons of greenhouse gases that will eventually destroy our planet. So, we have a dilemma. While we want to do something about global warming, we don’t want to change our high-energy consumption way of life” (178). The statement shows that Pearson treats the topic as argumentative meant to convince the audience about the need to use nuclear power energy.
Pearson uses rhetorical appeals- ethos, pathos, and logos- to persuade the general public that nuclear power energy is safer than fossil fuel energy. For example, the author uses ethos when he quotes authoritative information. For instance, Pearson quotes British nuclear expert Laurence Williams on the issue of radiation, and Professor Emeritus of Computer Science at Stanford University, John McCarthy who found that a 1,000-megawatt reactor produces only 1.5 cubic meters of waste every year of operation. The author uses pathos, which is appeal to emotions to persuade the reader about the need for nuclear energy (207). Pearson writes, “So your toaster is far more likely to kill you than any nuclear power plant and subsequently give you a painfully embarrassing epitaph.” (175). The statement evokes worry, although through humor. Lastly, the author uses logos, which is appeal to reason to persuade the audience to support the use of nuclear energy.
Pearson effectively uses rhetorical appeals and writing point of views-first person, second person and third person to persuade the audience to use nuclear power energy over fossil fuels. The author combines different points of view, but he maintains a subjective tone. He strongly supports the use of nuclear power energy by focusing on the audience. The use of “we” and “you” dominantly in the article helps the author to focus on the reader. Also, the author uses rhetorical appeals-ethos, pathos, and logos- to convince the reader to support nuclear power energy.
Lunsford, Andrea A, and John J. Ruszkiewicz. Everything’s an Argument., 2014. Internet resource.
Varpio, Lara. “Using Rhetorical Appeals to Credibility, Logic, and Emotions to Increase Your Persuasiveness.” Perspectives on Medical Education, vol. 7, no. 3, June 2018, pp. 207–210. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s40037-018-0420-2.