Saving Nature but Only for Man”

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Krauthammer's “Saving Nature but Only for Man”
Charles Krauthammer, in his essay “Saving Nature, but Only for Man,” argues against whom he refers to as a sentimental environmentalist. Charles Krauthammer is a well-known right-wing political columnist and commentator who has worked or contributed to a number of magazines throughout his career (Krauthammer 292) His purpose behind writing this article was to prove that nature is here to serve man and not the other way around. The logic of his argument derives from an unusual form of pathos: an appeal to a human's fondness for other humans over so-called luxurious aspects of the environment. This pathos coupled with appealing to people's fear and moralistic views are the rhetorical strategies he utilizes throughout his argument.

Krauthammer begins his argument by saying that people are beginning to make protecting the environment and becoming more green-friendly a prominent moral value in 1991's society. With great influences and important figures like Ted Turner and George Bush, along with companies such as Dow and Exxon showing their “love for Mother Earth,” people are starting to change their views and attitudes of the environment (292). This type of environmentalist (or what he refers to as a “sentimental environmentalist at the end of his essay (294)) is inclined to intertwine man and nature into one, but Krauthammer on the other hand claims that “When man has to choose between his well-being and that of nature, nature will have to accommodate”. (293). The foundation of his argument comes from Protagoras' old maxim, that “Man is the measure of all things” (293). In other words, man can only know the universe through man's eyes. All of physics is human physics, all of philosophy is human philosophy. In the past, animals (including humans) have accommodated to nature, suffering through various natural disasters: floods, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes and hurricanes. Krauthammer claims that now we must make the natural world into a natural world form humans (293).

Krauthammer's first goal in his argument was to inject a sense of fear to his readers. To do this, he provides an example of what's currently happening in our ecosystem, such as the looming crises of the greenhouse effect and ozone depletion, and how stopping these man-made disasters would be a necessity (292). These two problems are undeniably the result of our civilization, but are made urgent only because they threaten man. In Krauthammer's eyes, the threat to nature they create is only credible because damaging nature (in this case at least) means damaging us humans. This is why we should stop the damaging climate change; not to save nature, but to save nature for mankind. This is not an effective plan of attack. By taking this approach, Krauthammer is relying on the reader accepting his or her own ego-centrism. Whether or not the reader is wholly self-interested, no one is swayed by accusations of selfishness.

He also appeals to people's emotions by having them imagine themselves requesting “hardworking voters to sacrifice in the name of the snail darter”, only then to say that these voters would barely even give them a “shrug” (293). This is an obscure reference. It is confusing for the reader because many who would come across the term “snail darter” would assume that Krauthammer is referencing a member of the lower class, where in reality it's a type of bird. However, this can be effective because whether or not his audience knows that a snail darter is a bird, the reader is likely imagining themselves being these hardworking voters, and feel shame because of their potential actions. This is his strange use of pathos: that we, as humans, should care for other humans more than other living things, especially if we don't even care enough for birds. Any reader capable of feeling compassion for the snail darter or guilt for the voters will not separate man and nature, and therefore will not make this...
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