One of my tasks in my MOOC on Rhetorical Writing on Coursera this week was to watch ten minutes of the this video and post my analysis. It was a good exercise.
In his speech on desertification, the rhetorical appeal Savory uses most successfully is logos. His logical argument stands firm on a claim, a reason, and an unstated assumption.
He claims that the “most perfect storm\tsunami” is “bearing upon” humankind who is facing a grim reality in which the world is getting hotter due to climate change that is being caused, among other factors, by desertification. He makes his point by showing evidence via images of before and after coupled with anecdotes collected through his vast experience as a scientist and researcher in the field.According to his argument, the reason why we should something about this problem, is because we are directly affected by it once we are also victims of climate change. Finally, his unstated assumption is that we are on the verge of disaster and that our civilization will perish (just like the Mayans as many others) if we do not find a way of reversing desertification.
His appeal is also logically strong because it is well supported by statistics, causal statements, and relevant examples.His statistics’ citations include the percentage of Earth (about two thirds) that is turning to desert and the amount of rain fall in Yemen and the fate of that water. His causal statements depict how land that was once covered by vegetation becomes desert. He also shows how livestock plays an important role in preventing desertification from happening.
Finally, he shares evidence that shows that, contrary to what many believe, it is large herds moving, grazing, and trampling the soil that makes vegetation come back and thus prevent desertification. Therefore, we should consider having large herds of livestock roaming in the land if we are to stop this disaster. Last but not least, I should say that the strength of his argument lies in the fact that he does not only appeal to logic, but also to ethos (his vast knowledge on the field), to pathos (his tone of voice and the life changing effect of his experience with elephants in Africa), and to kairos (he speaks at the right time, in the right place, and for the right audience).