Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Rhetorical Analysis of Zekai Sen's "Global warming threat on water resources and environment: a review" and Eric Katz's "Judaism and the Ecological Crisis"

Even though two people agree on an issue, it does not mean that they agree for the same reasons. Final opinions can be the same across academic disciplines but can stem from very different roots and can be presented in fundamentally and rhetorically different ways. Both authors Eric Katz and Zekai Sen promote environmentalism through their articles Judaism and the Ecological Crisis and Global Warming threat on water resources and environment: a review respectively. However, the differences between the disciplines of these two scholars, evident through each article’s audience, organization and document design, assumptions and sources, and the use of them have very different implications on how their views are received and valued.

Zekai Sen’s article “Global Warming threat on water resources and environment: a review” is written specifically for an audience of other geologists in Sen’s discipline. There are two ways in which readers can tell this: the journal in which it is published, and through examining the actual text. The article is obviously a scholarly, peer reviewed source. The article is published in the journal Environmental Geology which is widely know to be a peer-review only journal reporting on  “all aspects of interaction between humans, natural resources, ecosystems, special climates or unique geographic zones, and the earth” (“Environmental”). Another sign that points to its credibility is the sophisticated language Sen uses. For example, note the complexity and intellectual weight of the sentence, “... Boken and Shaykewich (2002) modified Western Canada Wheat Yield Model (Walker 1989) drought index using daily temperature and precipitation data and Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) satellite data” (Sen 324). Finally, the implications of the article being a peer-reviewed source is that by definition, a peer-reviewed article is written with the intended audience of the author’s colleagues and fellow scholars that are experts in the same disciple. Therefore, this article is written mainly for geologists and while the article promotes environmentalism, its roots for support are different from Eric Katz article.

Just as Zekai Sen’s article is for Geologists, it can proven that Eric Katz’s article, “Judaism and the Ecological Crisis”, is for an audience of Jewish religious scholars. First, the article, like Sen’s article, is published in a peer-reviewed source. While Sen’s article is located in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal, Katz’s article is found in a peer-reviewed book, Worldviews and Ecology. Also, Katz’s article posses the same kind of heavy, term saturated sentences. One example can be found on page 63, “There is much evidence from rabbinical texts to support the idea that bal tashchit is a general and fundamental principle regarding human actions within the nonhuman and natural environment” (Katz 63). Because the article is aimed at Jewish Religious Scholars, multiple differences can be expected in the construction of both articles. Both articles are clearly written for different audiences who see the issue of environmentalism through different lenses.


An important component of an article is the article’s overall organization and the physical design of the document. Zekai Sen’s article follows the conventional layout for a peer-reviewed article. First, the article presents an abstract which summarizes the thesis and structure of the article as a whole. The abstract acts as an quick summary of the papers main points. The abstract is then followed by an introduction and the body of the article which is separated into four subsections. Each subsection is separated based on what climate change is affecting: water availability starting on page 322, weather extremes starting on page 323, groundwater recharge starting on page 324, and the design of future engineering systems and dams starting on page 326. Finally, the paper ends with a conclusion and reference page. However, Sen does do something that strays from the conventional organizational structure; Sen makes use of a kind of “bullet-point” outlining at least once in each section. One example of his “bullet-point” outlining is on page 322 where Sen lists out ways that greenhouse warming will affect the future of freshwater resources. He uses this style previously starting on page 322, twice on page 324, and again on page 326, page 327, and page 328. These “bullet-points” summarize concisely Sen’s concerns, observations, data projections and research. The use of this style of presentation cues the reader to pay strong attention to what they have to say, they also catch the reader's eye if they are skimming the article, indicating that these sections are significant to Sen’s thesis.

Eric Kantz also adheres to the conventional organizational skeleton and document design. However, Katz does not have a separate abstract, but it is combined with his introduction. Following the introduction, Katz separates the body into three different subsections. Unlike Sen, Katz’s separations are not solely on subject matter but are separated in order to follow a thought process. First, Katz talks about why we should care about the preservation of nature. On page 56, Katz references Genesis 1:28 where, under his interpretation, God calls humans to be stewards of God’s creation. On page 58, Katz also establishes the fact that God owns the world by referencing Psalm 24 and Leviticus 25:23. The second subsection deals with how environmentalism has been practiced in Jewish rituals and commandments by referencing laws such as migrash on page 60, Hilchot Shechenim on page 61, Taza’ar ba’alei chayim also on page 61, and Bal Tashchit on page 62. All of these rituals and commandments call for the preservation of nature. Finally, the third section deals with the Jewish worldview on nature. In this last section, Katz pulls both biblical and historical traditions and teachings together to issue a call to action for Jews to promote environmentalism, “As stewards of God’s earth, humans serve as partners in the never-ending task of perfecting the universe” (Katz 68). One document design that is similar to Sen’s “bullet-points” is Katz’s use of sacred scripture in his article; the quoted biblical material is set aside from the regular text. This stylistic choice serves two purposes. The first is that it catches the readers attention as the “bullet-points” do in Sen’s article; the second purpose it serves is to respect the scripture. This is something that is unique to religious articles in that sacred texts are usually set apart from the authors writing to show reverence as these quotes are considered holy. Katz does this on page 56 while quoting Genesis 1:28, on page 59 when quoting the Tosefta: Berakhot 4:1, on page 62 when quoting John 4: 9-11, on page 65 when quoting Job 38:4-5, and on page 66 when quoting Job 38: 25-27.

One element that is heavily dependent on the discipline of the audience and writer, who are in this case coherent, is the preconceived assumptions of people in that discipline and the type of sources that are valued and respected. In Zekai Sen’s article, the audience are fellow geologists; it is most likely that they have already accepted that climate change is real. Sen reaffirms this assumption because he jumps right into the effects of climate change rather than the causes of climate change; he devotes no time to proving climate change’s existence. In fact, the first sentence of the abstract reads as such, “Global, warming, greenhouse effect, and the climate change problems are long-term anthropogenic consequences….” (Sen 321). Sen uses the verb “are” which implies that climate change is a indisputable fact. Another element that is determined by the discipline is what are strong and respected sources for argumentative support. It is evident through examples in his article that geologists value data reports and scientific studies. For example, Sen references data models such as the Western Canada Wheat Yield Model on page 324. Sen also references studies by the IPPC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) in his introduction on page 321, their Second Assessment Report on page 323, and their review of climate impact studies. The IPCC “is a scientific body under the auspices of the United Nations” that review worldwide research and studies that involve climate change (“IPCC”). By utilizing these kinds of sources, Sen has gained credibility amongst his colleagues. These sources and arguments seem to try and almost scare his colleagues into participation.

In contrast, Katz’s audience has very different assumptions and values different sources of information than Sen’s audience. For example, Jewish religious scholars all believe that God created the Earth. Katz blatantly states this in his introduction on page 55, “...nature is neither an abstraction nor an ideal, but rather one of the realms in which humans interact with God”. Katz repeats this foundation even italicized it on page 58, “In Judaism, the world belongs to God.” This is central to their support of environmentalism; they support environmentalism because they feel that they must because they are commanded to in Genesis 1:28. Sen’s audience supports environmentalism because they believe it is scientifically necessary for the survival of our planet. If Katz’s audience did not accept the presumption that God created the Earth then they would have no obligation to invest in environmentalism. Also, Jewish religious scholars value sacred scriptures, laws, traditions and rabbinical interpretations of those scriptures. Katz supports environmentalism with commandments from Genesis 1:28 on page 56, Genesis 2:15 on page 57, Psalm 24 on page 58, Leviticus 25:23 on page 58, Leviticus 19:19 on page 61, Leviticus 22:28 on page 61, Deuteronomy 22:6 on page 61,Deuteronomy 22:10 on page 62, Jon 4:9-11 on page 62, Job 38:4-5 on page 65, and Job 28:25-27 on page 66. Katz also supports his thesis with the the Jewish laws and customs such as migrash on page 60, Hilchot Shechenim on page 61, Taza’ar ba’alei chayim also on page 61, and Bal Tashchit on page 62. Katz is almost trying to persuade through trying to jumpstart environmentalism as an extension of the Jewish morality, rather than trying to scare Jews into action as Sen is attempting to do within the geology community.

Finally, depending on the discipline, an author may choose to utilize certain appeals over others. Because, Zekai Sen is writing to geologists about climate change, it would be unwise to focus on using pathos, an emotional approach to climate change. However, logos and ethos would mesh nicely with his colleagues. Sen first uses the ethos appeal just by having written the article. Firstly, Zekai Sen is a faculty member at the Istanbul Technical University in Istanbul, Turkey. Secondly, his article is simply published in the Environmental Geology Journal, a renowned peer-reviewed publication. Though, ethos is not the only appeal he uses. Sen also employs a great deal of logos. Whenever Sen references the IPCC or data projections that have discussed earlier, he is utilizing logos. Logos is also being employed in all of Sen’s “bullet-pointing” sections. Sen is using these “bullet-points” to outline sequential data that support his overall thesis.  However, Sen uses very little pathos. Sen is a very detailed and inaccessible writer. Sen’s articles contain many scientific terms native to the select audience. Overall, the heavy use of logos leaves the climate change opposition with very little to critique Sen on a in his writing, as his article draws from repeatable sources.  

Eric Katz utilizes all three of the appeals to better relate to his audience. Like Sen, he automatically posses ethos due to his job; Eric Katz is a professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He also cultivates ethos by having his article published in a peer-reviewed book, Worldview and Ecology. However, Katz uses both his disciplines version of logos and pathos to promote environmentalism. Katz uses the logos of scripture interpretation and applied philosophy to draw connections between sacred scriptures and Jewish traditions and customs to prove that to love and obey God is to care and maintain the natural world through environmentalism. Katz uses pathos by emphasising the importance of humans, as according to Genesis 1:28, humans are to subdue and have dominion (in the form of stewardship) over the earth and all creation. This is suppose to pull at our moral and empower us with a feeling of responsibility for the health or nature.

Both Zekai Sen and Eric Katz agree that society needs to embrace environmentalism. However, the foundations for environmentalism differ between these two scholars and the disciplines in which they work. By examining each articles audience, organization and document design, assumptions and sources, and the authors uses of appeals, it is clear that Sen’s and Katz’s agreement on environmentalism have very different ideological and motivational roots.

Works Cited
"Environmental Earth Sciences - Incl. Option to Publish Open Access."Springer.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2015. <http://www.springer.com/earth+sciences+and+geography/geology/journal/12665>.

"IPCC - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change." IPCC - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2015. <http://www.ipcc.ch/organization/organization.shtml>.

Katz, Eric. "Judaism and the Ecological Crisis." Worldviews and Ecology: Religion, Philosophy, and the Environment. Ed. Mary E. Tucker and John A. Grim. New York: Maryknoll, 1994. 55-70. Print.

Sen, Zekai. "Global Warming Threat on Water Resources and Environment: A Review." Environmental Geology 57.2 (2009): 321-29. Springer Link. Web. 16 Apr. 2015.

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