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V.

Sachitha A0129670

Assignment 1: Summary
In Fossil Fuels Improve the Planet (Epstein, 2013), Epstein argues that fossil fuels
should not be labeled dirty energy and that they are abundant, affordable and reliable
unlike alternative energy sources: solar and wind energy. To justify fossil fuel usage,
Epstein points out that the post-industrial environment has become more habitable
due to fossil fuel usage. However, he assumes that the original environment was not
healthy and liveable. He highlights that energy is needed for better quality of life and
that with cheaper and dependable energy, a better world can be created, presuming
that energy needs to be affordable and reliable for better life. Epstein argues that
environmentalists hate practical energy (fossil fuels, nuclear and hydroelectric power)
but favour alternative energy such as solar and wind which are actually intermittent
and costly. He has preconceived criteria that good energy should be reliable and
cheap. With technology powered by inexpensive and stable energy, he believes
humans can adapt to any climatic change. Without practical energy, he foresees
trouble for mankind. He then argues that all forms of energy, though they maybe
considered being clean forms, result in waste just like all human activities do. He
claims that technology allows waste to be minimized. Assuming that solar and wind
energy is considered to be a clean form of energy by many, he asserts his opinion that
fossil fuels should not be considered dirty as if one looks into the creation of
cleaner forms of energy, it would be dirty as well.





V. Sachitha A0129670

Assignment 2: Evaluation
Argument 1:
Epstein makes a weak argument that inexpensive and dependable energy leads to
better quality of life. He bases his claim on the premise that energy is needed for basic
amenities such as to construct houses, mass-produce quality food, build medical
centers and improve quality of living. He points out that high-powered machines that
run on fossil fuels do most of the physical labour improving the environment. He
reasons that without cheap and dependable energy, basic amenities cannot be
provided as machines cannot be powered leading to poorer quality of life. However,
Epstein assumes that only energy from fossil fuels, which is cheap and dependable, is
required for good quality of life. Based on The Quality of Life Report (Quality of Life
in New Zealand Cities, 2012), standard of living depends not only on environmental
factors but also on social factors such as cost of living, work life balance and
education. As Epstein has a limited focus of quality of living, the assumption he
makes to support his argument is not validated, weakening his argument. His
argument uses deductive reasoning. His main premise that energy from fossil fuels is
needed for better quality of life is not valid due to his flawed assumption. Epsteins
minor premise is that energy needs to be cheap and dependable. While this premise is
true, it assumes that energy that is expensive and intermittent cannot lead to better
quality of life. This assumption is flawed as he does not consider the lives of people in
richer countries. Richer countries are able to afford expensive energy methods that do
lead to better quality of life. 13% of United States of Americas energy was generated
from renewable sources of energy. As both his premises are not valid due to flawed
assumptions, Epsteins deductive reasoning is not sound. Epstein uses pathos in his
evidence by highlighting that 1.3 billion people lack electricity, which denies them
V. Sachitha A0129670

basic amenities. The use of pathos appeals to the emotion of people instead of logical
reasoning. Hence, his evidence does not entirely support his argument. He then quotes
his evidence from BP, a British multinational oil and gas company. His evidence is
biased as the company produces energy from fossil fuels and will tend to encourage
the usage of fossil fuel as mentioned in his argument. As the evidence is not bias-free,
his argument is further weakened. Epstein does not address counter arguments such as
how alternative energy forms such as solar and wind energy have become affordable
and reliable. This one-sided fallacy shows bias toward Epsteins claim thus, making it
an unbalanced argument.
Argument 2:
Epstein makes another weak argument that fossil fuels are not dirty energy. He
supports his claim based on the premise that cleaner energy forms such as solar and
wind energy should be considered dirty as well due to the amount of waste generated
in creating the equipment. However, Epstein assumes that solar and wind energy is
considered to be clean energy by a lot of people. In a survey (Maibach et al., 2013),
77% agreed that Unites Stated should use more renewable energy in the future. He
choses to prove his point by highlighting that the supposedly clean energy is dirty
as well. However, according to Shahan(2013), electricity generation from wind
energy contributed to the decline in global warming pollution, thus making it a clean
from of energy. His argument is fallacious. He proves that fossil fuels are not dirty by
pointing out that solar and wind energy forms are dirty as well. This is a Strawman
Logical Fallacy where Epstein misrepresents the opposing argument to make his
argument stronger. Epstein also uses emotive and biased language in his argument.
He uses pathos by including his own emotions. He mentions that it is very upsetting
that practical energy is eliminated as dirty energy. He mentions that fossil fuels are
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attacked on viciously and that environmentalists have phony enthusiasm for
alternative energy sources. Instead of using logos, the use of pathos attempts to
identify with the readers emotions and hence, weakens the argument. His evidence
used is bias as well. Furthermore, Epstein quotes himself to support the claim that
environmentalists have phony enthusiasm for alternative energy sources. Epstein
however, only focuses on solar and wind energy being dirty and completely
disregards the negative effects of fossil fuels. Approximately 20,000 premature deaths
occur due to fossil fuel usage (Wald, 2009). According to the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA, 2014), 40% of carbon dioxide emissions are from the
combustion of fossil fuels. By not including counter-arguments, Epstein chooses to
present a very biased viewpoint. This weakens his argument.














V. Sachitha A0129670

References
Quality of Life in New Zealand Cities (New Zealand Government, 2012)
Retrieved from http://www.qualityoflifeproject.govt.nz/indicators.htm

U.S. Energy Information and Administration, 2014
Retrieved from http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=92&t=4

Maibach E., Roser-Renouf C., Vraga E., Bloodhart B., Anderson A., Stenhouse N.,
Leiserowitz A. (2013, April 2) A National survey of Republicans and Republican-
leaning independents on energy and climate change. Retrieved from:
http://environment.yale.edu/climate-
communication/files/Republican_Views_on_Climate_Change.pdf

Shahan, Z. (2013, October 31). Wind Energy Has Dramatically Cut Global Warming
Pollution In The US. Retrieved from
http://theenergycollective.com/zachshahan/294891/wind-power-has-dramatically-cut-
global-warming-pollution-us

Wald, M.L. (2009, October 19). Fossil Fuels Hidden Cost Is in Billions, Study Says.
The New York Times. Retrieved from
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/20/science/earth/20fossil.html?_r=0

Environmental Protection Agency. (2014, May 22). Retrieved from
http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-and-you/affect/air-emissions.html