Archive for September, 2011

Blog 6 – Using Images as Argument

I am not sure I would consider this image an argument – if it is I’m not sure I can decipher the claim.  This cartoon appears to have been made by someone on the oppositional side of fracking, displaying how the shale gas drillers destroy tap (drinking) water yet show that it’s still ok because the glass is still half clean. From the cartoonist’s standpoint, maybe the claim could be that natural gas drillers are tricky people and while destroying your water, they don’t want you to think that that is what is actually happening. Another, simpler claim could be that natural gas drilling leads to contaminated tap water. Reasons supporting the claim could be just the “fact” that the water is “half clean” as opposed to half dirty, which wouldn’t make an effective political cartoon. Half clean is an effective use of sarcasm, which is a good draw for many readers and stakeholders in the fracking debate. Another reason would be the faucet labeled, “Marcellus Shale Drinking Water” and the shirt labeled “natural gas drillers” which show exactly what is going on. The reasons are more clear to me than the actual claim and part of the reason for this is that the reasons are actually written words in this cartoon – not simply implied. There is an intended audience – mostly those opposed to fracking, though anyone in-the-know about the debate could be an appropriate piece to the audience. The claims I came up with for what this piece is potentially saying is being used by (probably) both the author and others, making that portion an effective argument, however I’m not sure the claim is used to convince the audience. Yes, it shows what fracking can do to your tap water, but most people have heard that already and therefore I do not see it as a swaying argument.


Blog 5 – Rogerian Argument: The other side’s perspective

Introduction: Natural gas now supplies 25% of our energy, so we all rely on it. It is also cheap and clean – a step in the right (correct) direction for the left and right wings, alike.

Audience Perspective: Starts with background information of how the process work – truth. Lets audience know that shale gas went from 1% of our energy supply in 2000 to 25% today. Also gives history of plans for energy development from ten years ago which could have been worse than what is currently underway. Doesn’t really give a solid audience perspective, though – immediately goes to something about how fracking’s dangers are mostly theoretical, without giving any consideration to that view point.

Author’s Perspective: As stated above, he jumps right in to state that the dangers are theoretical – he does so without incorporating any views from the audiences’ side. He notes that all energy production, no matter the source, will have environmental repercussions. He states that we can’t reject energy production advances because of the impacts they cause – especially since it’s theoretical. He has no real proof, just a quote from the head of the EPA, which would be credible but she just states that there are no proven cases – and nothing more than that.

Closing: Doesn’t really call for a compromise – just states that we cannot reject energy production advances and that making sure we don’t shut down natural gas reserves is necessary to our energy future. Sounds more like a call to say that my side is wrong and that we’re just impeding what should be happening by trying to hault fracking developments.

Blog 4 – Toulmin Outline

Toulmin Outline

Issue at hand – Fracking

  1. Fracking can potentially contaminate drinking water
  2. Fracking is run by many small energy companies and as US regulations get stronger support, they are outsourcing to other countries.
  3. US can do a lot to help the environment and its inhabitants by regulating the shale gas industry.

i.    Effects of fracking – drinking water
ii.    Economics – money to landowners

  1. Gasland video
  2. Companies outsourcing
  3. Countries coming in to frack
  4. Testimonials – video, at least – of tap water lighting fire


  1. Regulating fracking will protect our drinking water
  2. Regulations will allow for more public involvement
  3. Regulations can potentially result in better technology for energy consumption and/or production

i.    Not wanting to deal with them
ii.    Too expensive to change
4.   Other energy sources are regulated – why not this one?

  1. Data about where drinking water is lighting on fire – near fracking sites
  2. NEPA – EPA
  3. We’re a consumptive society – we run low on something or it gets too tricky to get through all the red tape so we invent something or do something new or different
  4. Oil is regulated, coal has mining regulations (albeit, awful ones)

Counter-Arguments and Rebuttal

  1. Regulating fracking will send more jobs and money to foreign countries
  2. Rebuttal – setting fracking regulations can set standards for the UN, etc.
  3. Regulating fracking is like invading a company’s privacy
  4. Rebuttal – disclosing “secret ingredients” in this case is a matter of international health – the public has a right to know what’s in their “drinkable” water


  1. Implications

i.    mention some chemicals used by companies who list their “slurry” ingredients
ii.    The potential for the US being a leader in sustainable energy production
2.  Summary
i.    Bring it back to sustainability and safety
3.  Evocative thought to make reader remember
i.    Imagine a world where the natural gas being sought is just an intermediary between oil dependence and sustainable, renewable energy