Analysis of “Nuclear Waste”
Richard A. Muller, an awardee of the MacArthur Fellowship and physics professor at UC Berkley, states in his 2008 essay “Nuclear Waste”, that Americans and the rest of the world are overly concerned with radioactive debris and the possibility of nuclear contamination. Muller first brings to light the most common fears of storing nuclear waste; volcanic activity in the Yucca Mountains, the area where the waste is stored, and the possibility of radioactive particles contaminating the water supply. Muller then goes on to entertain opposing viewpoints on how the waste should be disposed of. Muller then goes on to support his own claim by providing statistical data and explanations of radioactive decay throughout the essay. Muller uses a professional and informative tone throughout the essay while at the same time using langue and examples that are easy to understand and follow. Muller uses logos and ethos to persuade his audience to a common consensus that radioactive waste can be contained safely and effectively while posing no threat to the population or environment. This essay is meant to analyze Muller’s arguments provided throughout his article in order to examine his rhetorical strategies.
First Muller evokes fear in his audience by reminding them of a few of the worst case scenarios that could possibly happen with the storage of nuclear waste. Muller reminds his audience that the Yucca Mountain region where nuclear waste is stored “is seismically active. More than 600 earthquakes of magnitude 2.5 and higher have occurred within 50 miles in the last decade alone,” (pg. 207). Muller then goes on to state that Colorado, where water-soluble uranium naturally exists, has large amounts of ground water that will be used in the future for drinking and home use (pg. 212). Muller reminds the reader of these dangerous possibilities to grab the audience’s attention and ensuring that they will pay attention. He...
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