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Al Gore Nobel Peace Prize Lecture Analysis

1990 words - 8 pages

Evan Mossman
Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize Lecture has several important purposes. His primary purpose is to convince us through scientific evidence that climate change is caused by human influences, that it is deadly and real, and that we must act swiftly to fix the problem. Gore begins his speech by mentioning the fact that he has a purpose, but he doesn’t immediately tell us what that purpose is. He says that “I pray what I am feeling in my heart will be communicated clearly enough that those who hear me will say, “We must act””, but he hasn’t yet told us what it is we must do. He tells us that “The distinguished scientists with whom it is the greatest honor of my life to share this award ...view middle of the document...

He says that, “most important of all, we need to put a price on carbon -- with a CO2 tax that is then rebated back to the people”. All of these purposes fit together to form the message that we must fight climate change now.

1. Personal Experience. Gore enters this situation with no scientific background. It would be hard for him to use personal experience to convince listeners that the threat of climate change is real and upon us. Rather than use his personal experience to gain credibility as an expert, he uses it to draw a comparison between his losing presidential campaign and the problem the world currently faces. He tells us that, “Seven years ago tomorrow, I read my own political obituary in a judgment that seemed to me harsh and mistaken -- if not premature. But that unwelcome verdict also brought a precious, if painful, gift: an opportunity to search for fresh new ways to serve my purpose. Unexpectedly, that quest has brought me here.” He wants us to see that difficult times can lead us in new directions and ultimately benefit us in the long run. Just because the world is facing a problem doesn’t mean its future is doomed. Though this does not directly support his argument for the existence of global warming, it does help to establish ethos with his audience. It conveys the message that fighting climate change doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It can be the cause for innovation and collaboration worldwide. I think he was wise to not spend too much speaking about personal experience in his message. He’s not a scientist, and any attempt to appear as such could devastate his credibility.

2. Common Knowledge. Throughout his speech, Gore quotes famous people from history, and each could be viewed as common knowledge. Again, they don’t specifically provide evidence to his claim, but they help to convey the idea that humans have generally held beliefs about what is right and what is wrong. The idea that “if we don’t fix this problem now, then future generations will have to pay for it” is a common theme in both his speech and countless others. Gore reiterates it when he quotes Henrik Ibsen, who said, “One of these days, the younger generation will come knocking at my door.” The idea that we should take into account the benefit of future generations when making tough decisions is a common theme among all cultures, and could certainly be described as common knowledge. He quotes one of the first Nobel Prize winners, who said “We are evaporating our coal mines into the air.” Everyone knows this already, but bringing it up in this context helps build his credibility. It’s as if he’s saying “Hey, I’m not the only one to bring this up. People have been saying it for years.” For the category of common knowledge, Gore does a good job of bringing up several widely held beliefs that help substantiate his argument. However, he could have attempted to cite historical events where countries joined together for a common good not associated with...

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