Archive for the Rhetoric Category

T.M.I. (Too Many Issues) in Natural Disasters

Posted in Environmental Security, Natural Disasters, Rhetoric on April 15, 2010 by Rita

This is my last blog and I feel somewhat slacking in my responsibilities. Yet, on the other hand, I am struggling with this week’s topic: Natural Disasters.

Don’t get me wrong, I know what Natural Disasters are and as you’re reading this I’m sure you’ve thought of at least a dozen recent Natural Disasters. I know that I could have inserted copious numbers of videos illustrating examples of this week’s topic but I felt it would be trite.

I have never been in a Natural Disaster yet, I can empathize with those who have and survived. Reading Rebecca Solnit’s A Paradise Built in Hell and the article, “We Know This Place”: Neoliberal Racial Regimes and the Katrina Circumstance by Jordan T. Camp and the constant reference to Sunni Patterson’s poem, We Know This Place, I literally cannot grasp the topics discussed and I honestly do not understand where the authors are coming from.

An example of being unable to wrap my mind around these topics is Sunni Patterson’s relating how the citizens of the Ninth Ward (predominantly poor blacks) in New Orleans were mistreated after hurricane Katrina is in direct relation to the days of slavery. Maybe its my naive nature but I never thought of the issues raised by the authors.

A Natural Disaster is horrendous and we all realize that the media cannot and the vast majority do not report without an agenda or bias, so it is no surprise when listening or watching the news that only what has “shock value” and/or looks “good” on camera is reported on.

I don’t understand why these authors and the communities devastated by disasters feel/believe that their governments must rush in and save them. Is it actually written in any of the constitutions of the governments of the world?

I guess for me knowing how the U.S. government has behaved in the wake of Natural Disasters in this country and how it has treated it’s citizens makes it crystal clear that it cannot and should not be relied upon in a community’s time of need.


Gotta get Mine

Posted in Climate Change, Environmental Security, Natural Disasters, Nuclear Apocalypse, Rhetoric, Risk & Fear, War on April 8, 2010 by Taylor Manuel

Through exploring the connections between war and the environment, there seems to be an  overwhelming voice speaking to an escalation of conflict in the interest of securing increasingly diminishing  resources. I think that in carrying on discussion in this area it is important to note that though there seems to be an increase in such conflict, securing environmental resources and conversely using them in war has been an aspect of conflict from the very beginning of war itself. Though technology certainly magnifies the impact and feasibility of environment both as weapon and reason for war.

Geo-political interest in foreign occupation has become just as permanent as the basses we have established.

If securing oil and gas resources is the major motivation for military occupation and national security, why do we put boots on the ground in the name of “Democracy and womens rights”? I suppose the answer is an obvious one, but is securing access to dwindling resources not just? As selfish as it may seem. Not to mention, profitable!

Unrelated to this theme, its interesting to think of Natural disaster being used as a covert weapon. Both in  cause and or response.

Gordan J. F. Macdonald was a visionary professor in Geophysics. In 1968, he wrote a book entitled, “Unless Peace Comes: How to Wreck the Environment.” He writes:

Man already possesses highly effective tools for destruction. Eventually, however, means other than open warfare may be used to secure national advantage. As economic competition among many advanced nations heightens, it may be to a country’s advantage to ensure a peaceful natural environment for itself and a disturbed environment for its competitors. Operations producing such conditions might be carried out covertly, since nature’s great irregularity permits storms, floods, droughts, earthquakes and tidal waves to be viewed as unusual but not unexpected. Such a ‘secret war’ need never be declared or even known by the affected populations. It could go on for years with only the security forces involved being aware of it. The years of drought and storm would be attributed to unkindly nature and only after a nation were thoroughly drained would an armed take-over be attempted.

This strategy of covert war, coupled with the securing of resources and invasive population control presents an interesting dynamism…

“The Babbling of Dead Souls”

Posted in Popular Culture, Rhetoric, Uncategorized, War on March 23, 2010 by Rita

Heat. This is what cities mean to me. You get off the train and walk out of the station and you are hit with the full blast. The heat of air, traffic and people. The heat of food and sex. The heat of tall buildings. The heat that floats out of the subways and the tunnels. It’s always fifteen degrees hotter in the cities. Heat rises from the sidewalks and falls from the poisoned sky. The buses breathe heat. Heat emanates from crowds of shoppers and office workers. The entire infrastructure is based on heat, desperately uses up heat, breeds more heat. The eventual heat death of the universe that scientists love to talk about is already underway and you can feel it happening all around you in any large or medium-sized city. ” (Don DeLillo, White Noise. 1984. New York. Penguin Books)

For those of you who live in cities, you have my sympathy. I listened and watched the following video and I ended up with a migraine! I know that the vast majority of  city residents assimilate to the sites and sounds and eventually it all becomes White Noise to you.  As an adult, I found the sounds more than I could bear, imagine what it’s like for a newborn! The shock to the system or is it something they have already adapted to while in the womb?


Here’s a definition, for those of you who are still unsure what White Noise is: White Noise is a type of noise that is produced by combining sounds of all different frequencies together. If you took all of the imaginable tones that a human can hear and combined them together, you would have White Noise. You can think of White Noise as 20,000 tones all playing at the same time.” (http:/ What is White Noise?).

For those of you who didn’t care for the White Noise of the city, following are a couple of videos that might be more to your liking.

For your listening and visual enjoyment:

For your audio pleasure:

Here in America where no one is responsible or in control; all are receptors, receivers of stimuli, consumers. The recording and producing of White Noise machines, CDs of Nature sounds-like the ocean waves, bird songs, rivers, streams, storms, and rain [who knew residents of temperate rainforests had it so good? :0) ] is fast becoming a multi-million a year industry. If the noise of your community or neighborhood isn’t quiet enough or too noisy you can purchase your choice of White Noise.

The biggest conveyance of White Noise and information about White Noise is the television. ” Television is ”the primal force in the American home, sealed-off, self-contained, self-referring . . . a wealth of data concealed in the grid, in the bright packaging, the jingles, the slice-of-life commercials, the products hurtling out of darkness, the coded messages . . . like chants. . . . Coke is it, Coke is it, Coke is it.  (Don DeLillo, White Noise. 1984. New York. Penguin Books)

So… How much White Noise is in your life?

A Society Preoccupied with Risk and an Economy Unable to Think Past the Length of its _____….

Posted in Environmental Security, Popular Culture, Rhetoric, Risk & Fear, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on March 11, 2010 by Taylor Manuel

It’s becomes a difficult dichotomy when the same risks that emerge in society are fed to us by mega-corporations in a globalized economy. As Beck and Buell point out, the knowledge of risk is available only with the tools of education and income, as well as the ability to avoid some of those risks. How are we to know what is safe to eat, drink, wear, and use when we put our faith in the companies that make them, to make sure they are, and they aren’t? Even when we have federal organizations like the FDA who are suppose to filter things like this. Its scary to think that even corporations whom we think to be healthier and more environmentally”friendly” are sued for human harm i.e. Odwalla. Who are behind these companies which we think to be from local farmers and on another level then the other products on the shelf? Well in the case of Odwalla its Coca-Cola, the Nike of the beverage market! Or what about Monsanto and the rBGH in Milk? ” Does a Body Good.”

Sadly the list goes on. Mega-corporations are taking over both production and advertisement, essentially controlling consumption. There are but a handful of organizations that own the media and their monopolizing grip continues to tighten.

We are a nation of democracy, but few of our powerful structures are such. The structure of military and of these corporations are not conducive to democracy, they are hierarchical structures in which he have no say.  Mega- corporations don’t respond to the voices of the polis, nor do they respond to the voices of government. These corporations more often then not would rather pay the fines they are issued in order to continue serving their short term interest rather then change their ways. It was recently estimated that the world’s top firms are responsible for $2.2 Trillion in environmental damage, but can you really put a price on that? And do consumers know the externalities of their purchases when they go to buy a T-shirt, or a cup of coffee? Let alone the the impact of public policy and goods: water and waste.

We can’t help but live in a risk-society, it is and will be a part of our daily lives forever. But how do we live as safely as possible in the face of giants? Risks are folded into every purchase we make by the companies that make them and we rarely will know what those are. We demand alternatives yet even those become corporatized, or are not as safe or environmentally friendly as we assume. Someone may become a vegetarian thinking that it is a safer and healthier and or environmentally responsible diet, but where does the soy you eat come from? What was done to the land to make room for those soy bean fields, and what do you think happens when animals start grazing on them? They shoot them, or they die from the toxicity of herbicides : )

Illegal deforestation to make room for soy field in Brazil

So what are we to do? I don’t know I just know things are messed up, and information and knowledge about the companies behind the labels we buy, is the first step to any form of change, though acquiring that knowledge is becoming more and more difficult, with companies attempting to skew their brand logos images and company mission statement more favorably i.e. Green-washing

If you care to laugh in the face of this… %^$%#

Isn’t Modernity Funny: Environmental Risk and Crisis

Posted in Nuclear Apocalypse, Rhetoric, Risk & Fear, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on March 11, 2010 by jessicabarranco

Have you noticed that you don’t really flinch or even notice the things people say these days?  Have you ever zoned out a discussion about the end of the environment, the end of the world as we know it?  Imagine going about your daily life knowing that you are part of the environmental problem, but not doing anything to stop it.  Sure you are “recycling” that radioactive soda can, and you safely “disposed” of your CFC infused Asthma Inhaler; but did you even notice that it was radioactive(Nuclear Scrap), or that the CFCs are depleting the Ozone layer?  These issues, among countless others we encounter everyday, are weighing down our response to potential risk.  How can we address each and every environmental problem, when there are so many to deal with?  It is only human to find the constant drone: “we’re killing the earth and we’re all going to die” environmental rhetoric pretty funny; wouldn’t you say?

So what’s going on here?  Society is becoming desensitized to the idea of risk and environmental crisis.  The availability of environmental information and awareness can be found in politics, daily life, academic study, and yet people are sucked into a game of beating the odds and surviving the apocalypse.  Environmental thinkers are no longer interested in finding the solution to the problems, and perversely gamble nature’s resources against capitalist systems.  Paul Ehrlich and Julian Simon bet that as natural resources are used up, the price will go down due to the scarcity created as they are used up.  Well, as the Simon/Ehrlich Bet goes, the capitalist system does not reflect the availability of resources  in the environment.  But why has the environment become a mockery?  Consider Ulrich Beck’s, Politics of Risk Society:

In terms of social politics, the ecological crisis involves a systematic violation, or crisis, or basic rights, and the long-term impact of this weakening of society can scarcely be overestimated.  For dangers are being produced by industry, externalized by economics, individualized by the legal system, legitimized by the sciences and made to appear harmless by politics.  That this is breaking down the power and credibility of institutions only becomes clear when the system is put on the spot.

So basically, the environment is being researched, processed, and served on a daily news platter with a side of antienvironmental thought to go with it.  What else do you want on the menu, Environmental risk is found in almost every aspect of daily life.  From contaminants in drinking water to the chemicals found in the shirt you are wearing, you can’t exactly claim that you didn’t know the environment was a risky thing to interact with; now could you.  As much as we adapt to our environment, and learn to cope with the contaminants we encounter, are we just settling with current conditions?  Frederick Buell suggests that we should not only be aware of these risks, but that we should embrace the current environment as kin, “…to consider intimacy, nurturing, education, caring, embeddedness, embodiment, exposure, and vulnerability as crucial aspects of environmental as well as social-human, experience.” (207, From Apocalypse to Way of Life)  If we can embrace the earth and the biotic systems within it, maybe we can stop laughing, and address all of that built up ecological karma we’ve been hoarding. (Buell, 194)

Break from Dust Bowl…Back to Apocalypse!

Posted in Popular Culture, Post-Apocalypse, Religious Roots, Rhetoric on February 25, 2010 by juneaudale

So i feel it is now a moot point to be enrolled in this class. What’s the point in discussing the history, rhetoric, ideas and theories of a subject that is already apparently upon us? Good luck and God speed!

Stories, race, and the Dust Bowl

Posted in Climate Change, Popular Culture, Rhetoric on February 25, 2010 by briannichols

                The Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s plays an important and complicated role in the way Americans talk about the history of poverty and public policy in their country. For almost seventy years the story of white families from Oklahoma and neighboring states making their way to California in the midst of the Great Depression has been kept alive by journalists and filmmakers, college teachers and museum curators, songwriters and novelists, and of course historians. Although it was but one episode out of many struggles with poverty during the 1930s, the Dust Bowl migration became something of synecdoche, the single most common image that later generations would use to memorialize the hardships of that decade. The continuing fascination with the Dust Bowl saga also has something to do with the way race and poverty have interacted over the generations since the 1930s. Here is one of the last great stories depicting white Americans as victims of severe poverty and social prejudice. It is a story that many Americans have needed to tell, for many different reasons.

“The Dust Bowl Migration” Poverty Stories, Race Stories by James N. Gregory

In considering how stories shape our understanding of Eco-collapse as social Crisis, Timothy Egan’s non-fiction novel, The Worst Hard Time shows how past environmental problems has been a result of government and corporate forces working together to exploit race and landscape.  From the beginning of the novel, Egan tells his readers that the panhandle region consisting of the corner states of Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska had once been occupied by native tribes. He explains that Bison had given native tribes such as the Comanche, Kiowa, Kiowa-Apache “everything they needed: clothes, shelter, tools, and of course of protein source.”  He continues to explain, how they would also “supplement their diets with wild plums, grapes, and currents growing in spring-fed creases of the flatland, and antelope, sage grouse, wild turkeys, and prairie chickens.” Furthermore, he highlights how native cultures have survived in a desert landscape even in times of dramatic climate change. He then explains that the native’s sustainable relationship with landscape was then destroyed with the coming of “Anglo hunters who killed the bison by the millions.”

 Egan informs his readers that the government and corporate business relations had used advertising and free train rides to pursued poverty stricken Europeans to settle and farm the panhandle region.  Advertising took the form of fictional stories as they suggested that the panhandle region was an ideal location to start a farm. As farmers began using new technology, such as, the tractor replacing horse-drawn plows vast amount of grasses were being ripped up in short amounts of times. As farmers destroyed the roots of grasses that had held the sod into place, a grassland ecosystem which had supported both the Bison and Indian for centuries had been destroyed. In this manner, government and corporate forces had promoted the eraser of former inhabitants while also creating the environmental disaster of the Dust Bowl.     

                 Egan’s story, then, is different from the ones which James N. Gregory describes as “the last great stories depicting white Americans as victims of severe poverty and social prejudice.” Gregory’s argues that story tellers such as John Steinbeck and musicians such as Woody Guthrie have romanticized the ecological disaster of the Dust Bowl and its ensuing social crisis creating stories focused on people white in color while ignoring people of other races. Egan, rather, explains how government and corporate advertising for the settlement of Indian lands had encouraged Euro-Americans (escaping the poverty of Europe) to have racists attitudes towards no-whites.