How To Create An Effective Environmental Activism Blog By Using rhetoric

Go back to Bloggers' Rhetoric for more information on how to connect with audience in the digital age.

The pen is mightier than the sword- Edward Bulwer Lytton

Persuasion is the art of convincing people to do what you want them to do without threat of physical violence (that’s intimidation)
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Appeals are the bread and butter of argumentation. Appeals are the strategies through which one attempts to persuade. There are three generalized varieties:

Appeals to Ethos

This is an appeal to credibility, usually the credibility of the speaker. Why should they trust him or her?

The following excerpt is a good example of how to create credibility

When I coach, I usually provide four ingredients I think are key to being a successful debater. These ingredients are pretty helpful in life too. You’ll find number four changes from time to time. I’d like to review these, along with the number one principle of Cross-Examination that we always teach. The three national champions I’ve coached excel at each of these principles.-Isiah Mcpeak

Appeals to Logos

This is the appeal to logic, to reason, and to facts. This is how most of us conceive of argumentation, because it’s how we’re taught to conceive of argumentation.

The following excerpt is a good example of logos

All adults know: healthy eating is important. The organic supermarket chain Fresh`N´Friends benefits from that situation. There is just one small problem: kids hate healthy food but they love sweets. And worst of all: kids won´t listen to logical arguments.-Bjene Kernhardt

Appeals to Pathos

These appeals affect the emotions of the readers. Logic alone does not persuade. In fact, logic often has a supporting role in argumentation. Ethos and Pathos do most of the work. While we tend to think of these appeals as playing on our heartstrings to get our money – appeals to desire (sex, money, fame, etc.), appeals to honor, appeals to patriotism, appeals to morality, appeals to friendship, and appeals to love also fall under this category

The following excerpt is a good example of a pathos blog

Being a mother is a selfless job; it's also a never-ending one. From the time we're born and on, a mother is there, to provide support, encouragement, and comfort. One of the few things a person can depend on in life is a mother's love. The bond between a mother and her child is one of the strongest, and one of the most beautiful. -Jason Crowell


The Ten Commandments of Blogging

1. DO write about what matters to you.
This is the first commandment of blogging. People who are passionate about their subject matter write the most successful blogs. When you write about topics that excite you, your writing will communicate a sense of energy that will attract like-minded readers. You’ll also be more likely to keep on blogging, and won’t abandon your blog after a few days or weeks. Passion is key for a good blog.(Blog tips. . )
This blogger shares the changes they have made to go green

2. DON’T forget basic principles of good text layout.
Readability is one of the most important aspects of good blog copy. Use line breaks between paragraphs. Use sub-heads, preferably in bold type. Use italics for emphasis. Your goal is to draw the eye and create a smooth sense of flow throughout your post. Make it easy to read!(Blog tips. .)

3. DO use lists. Most blog readers skim copy rather than read it all the way through.
One way to maximize your copy impact is to use lists. Bullet lists or numbered lists call attention to important points, and ensure that readers who are skimming will catch the most vital part of your post.(Blog tips. .)

4. DON’T sweat it.
Don’t let these guidelines keep you from blogging - the most important thing is to keep writing. If you write with passion and conviction, you’ll be able to connect with other people, and your writing will improve every time you post.(Blog tips. . )

5.Use Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to Share Your Posts & Find New Connections.
Twitter just topped 500 million registered accounts. Facebook has over 1.2 billion active users. Google+ has nearly 400 million. Together, these networks are attracting vast amounts of time and interest from Internet users around the world, and those that participate on these services fit into the "content distributors" description above, meaning they're likely to help spread the word about your blog.(Randish. . )

6. Conduct Keyword Research While Writing Your Posts.
Not surprisingly, big parts of showing up in search engines are targeting the terms and phrase your audience are actually typing into a search engine. It's hard to know what these words will be unless you do some research, and luckily, there's a free tool from Google to help called the AdWords Keyword Tool.( Randish. .)

7. Be Concise.
The most viewed posts are between 300 and 800 words. Try not to go over 800 words. However, some of my posts are longish because they are reprinted essays, interviews, or tips on a given topic (like this one). If you have a long post, break it up by using numbered or bulleted points. Or turn it into a series. Master the art of compression.( Viola, Frank. . )

8. Incorporate Multimedia Wisely
Think of your favorite teacher or class. Did that person spend the allotted class time simply lecturing? Most likely, your teacher incorporated elements like images, videos, and group discussion. In your blog post, media shouldn’t substitute for good writing, but it can definitely enhance it and keep the writer interested. Choose media like images, video, and sound wisely and use restraint.( Wirstiuk, Laryssa. .)

9. Show examples to prove your point.
Use examples to prove your point. When you are talking to a friend, you tend to use examples to sound credible. Treat your audience as your friends and try explaining it.

10. Invite comments.
An important aspect of blogs is that they feature the writing of the blogger as well as the comments of readers. When you visit a blog, you often find a comment link under the text of each blog posting. Clicking that link enables you to read comments from other people and submit your own.( Warner, Janine. . )


The following is an example of A Genre Analysis.

Genre: Environmental Activists’ Video’s
Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, there has been a social and economic change that has transformed humans everywhere from an agrarian community to an industrialized society. Technological innovation in the large-scale industry triggered this social change and economic development. Private and public companies extract natural resources at an alarming rate to satisfy the needs of their exponentially growing customer base and to make higher profits. This led to the creation of environmentalism, which advocates the preservation, restoration, and improvement of non-human and natural environment. Environmental activists’ videos increase the number of people who are aware about the current environmental issues by targeting the audiences’ emotions and publicizing the damage being done to the environment. These videos generally cover topics related to the climate, resources and animals

Environmental activists put out their videos on the Internet in order to gain more support. There has been a gradual rise in the number of non-governmental organizations like Greenpeace, GRACE (Global Resource Action Center for the Environment) and Earth Justice. These NGOs play a vital role towards environmental protection as they protest, rally, and demonstrate against activities, businesses, and/or organizations, which could harm the planet in a significant way. Since the internet has become the best medium to communicate and reach out to great masses of people all at once, it is one of the best options as far as reaching out to a large number of people. Resources like petroleum and coal, forests and bodies of water were exploited till devastating effects were noticed and brought to people’s notice by the activists. Many animal species went extinct worldwide because of deforestation and even more became extinct in certain parts of the planet because of pollution. As the planet was being damaged at an unprecedented rate and certain negative effects of the industrial revolution were slowly becoming visible, various environmental agencies were set up to protect the bio-diversity on this planet some of them being UNEP, GEF and EPA. These organizations used the Internet to spread awareness and to gain public support through activist videos

This genre appears mainly on the Internet, usually on Youtube.com and NGOs’ websites like Greenpeace.com, which are transmitted online by “sharing” it on social networking and other websites like Facebook, Twitter, blogging sites etc. Although ideas can be provided by anyone, the activists in the videos write the text shown in the video. There are usually multiple writers and they need to be creative and should truly respect, value and care for the environment. They should come up with articles that engage the readers and update them with the effects and how to save the environment rather than only making them aware of the harm it is doing. They also need to have a drive to make a difference and team up with either an organization supporting the same cause they believe in or reach out to other activists with the same aim. The writers write when things are going wrong and/or the natural balance of the earth is being affected. For example, the S.S. Badger has been making twice-daily trips across Lake Michigan. Each day during the five-month sailing season the ship burns 55 tons of coal, generating an estimated 3.8 tons of filthy coal ash pollution. A rule established by the EPA in 2008 forbids steam ships from dumping coal ash into the great lakes, but last-minute lobbying efforts earned the S.S. Badger an exemption through the end of 2012. CREDO action started a petition, which is set to make sure that they shouldn't be allowed to dump dirty coal ash into Lake Michigan beyond the previously established 2012 deadline. (CREDO Action …)

The audience generally includes environmental enthusiasts and people concerned about the environment, looking to make a difference by helping out in some way or doing their bit. Since the campaigns are based on spreading awareness, the general public is also the intended audience. There are multiple readers and they support the organization by donations, volunteering by either working with them or providing some sort of write ups for shooting videos of the harm that is done to the environment, etc. The readers must be educated and up to date with the current affairs of the world. The majority of the people, who are interested in the works of Greenpeace, watch it. For example, Apple powers the iCloud using mountaintop removal coal from Duke Energy. In an activist video posted on YouTube.com, a reader comments, “Apple must set an example to others. Everybody's inspired by the design and user-friendliness of their products. But, it's not-so-responsible behavior upsets many people. Its time the iCloud service shifts to renewable energy. Maybe, if this doesn't work, mass boycott can persuade it’’. This comment shows that people agree with Greenpeace and support them. This example shows that environmentalism videos generate widespread knowledge of current events and provide readers with the opportunity to give opinions.

The environmental activists’ videos are made to make companies and humans stop harming the environment for personal gains. More often than not, they end up working but only making the audience aware of the harm they’re doing to the environment. They are able to raise awareness and get support digitally, but are not able to persuade a large number of people to take out some time and take an action. This could be because people are busy with daily lives and activities and don’t think that their time is worth it. High amount of views and likes support the campaign like adding fuel to the fire making it not only stronger, but famous too. For example, Greenpeace had a campaign against Apple, which focused on making the MacBook’s more recycle friendly because the raw materials used in making the laptops were not environmental friendly. They used various mediums for this campaign, including videos put up on Youtube.com. The video named the number of harmful chemicals used in a MacBook and was viewed over 130,000 times. This campaign became highly successful because of the support from public, which made apple change the MacBook’s design and materials used. After the change was implemented a viewer commented, “Well look, the ad worked because now Apple got its act together and greened up their computers! It's not an ad AGAINST computers, it's an ad meant to encourage manufacturers to IMPROVE their computers. I am happy I am using a environmental friendly computer!”. This shows that people are satisfied with the work of Greenpeace.

Environmental activists’ videos sometimes have disturbing content. In a video made by Greenpeaceusa titled Apple: help save our mountains, they explain that duke energy uses mountain top removal to extract coal. As apple is one of the biggest duke customers, the activists hope that apple can influence duke to turn to more renewable sources of energy by demanding them to do so. The videos usually only highlight the negative things about the company they rally against. They use “people stories” to emotionally appeal to the person and they usually have a few people who talk about negative experiences and why something should be done. One activist says that he has lost almost 80% of his family members who either died while mining coal, or got hit by a coal carrying truck. As a death of a family member is a very emotional topic, these videos generate a lot of support via sympathy. All of their videos are based on facts but they are designed to appeal emotionally. Pathos is used the most in the videos, it can be seen multiple times in a video. Sometimes they want to invite sympathy and sometimes they evoke anger in us, by showing images of huge amount of smoke being released into the air or images of people who have been negatively affected. Sometimes, there is no significant pattern in these videos as all of them are campaigning different topics using different concepts. Some videos are like interviews, some are like documentaries, and some are animated. This shows that environmental activists make sure that these videos are not just educational but also fun to watch and engage the viewer right from the beginning to the end, at times by showing behind the scenes action and the other by shocking them with facts which are known to a few. But, sometimes they have a pattern with regard to creativity or the fact that some of them give a strong message.

I think that environmental activism videos are very important, as it is crucial to protect the environment to ensure safe living of the earth inhabitants. By appealing emotionally and sometimes logically to its viewers, environmental activism videos raise awareness amongst people and increase support provided to various environmental organizations.


If you would like to make a blog for yourself, or a classroom please visit this wiki here which provides a step by step instruction guide on how to create an account and blog!
If you would like an example of a rhetorical critique and how it can be incorporated into your own blog please see this wiki
Blogging with an Eye for Rhetorical Analysis.


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