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Sinking Lifeboat

In: English and Literature

Submitted By mirella94
Words 1020
Pages 5
Mirella Villa
Professor Potratz
English 100
10/2/2013
Sinking Lifeboat
Garrett Hardin was an American Ecologist who wrote the article “Lifeboat Ethics” in Psychology Today in 1974. Garrett Hardin is a neoconservative with a Doctorate in Biology from Stanford University and has written about how human life is sustained on our planet. By using metaphors, statistics, and cause and effect, Hardin attempts to sway the audience opinion on the world food bank but fails to do so.
Hardin uses metaphors such as a lifeboat and a spaceship to represent the U.S. and planet earth. A lifeboat can only hold so many people and before it exceeds the capacity and a spaceship does not exclude anyone but limits the resources for everybody. In the lifeboat are many of the rich nations such as the U.S. and the United Nations and outside in the water are many of the poor countries like Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Pakistan. Since the U.S. is considered one of the rich nations they are considered the rich passengers among the boat which will be able to stay, the poorer countries will remain outside and only allowed if there is any room in the lifeboat. If the boat has enough space for fifty passengers then only fifty passengers will be allowed but if our “conscience stricken” side comes out then we possibly may allow more passengers. Suppose we allow ten more passengers we have now lost the safety factor on the lifeboat just as if we allow the country to overpopulate then we can lose the safety factor that we have within our nation. This is relating to how the United States is involved in the World Food Bank by being one of the richest nations in the world we provide to the food bank giving emergency resources but we might possibly lose our resources and lose our safety just like the passengers on the boat who have offered more space on the lifeboat who have lost their safety factor. Hardin says, “This is the basic metaphor wihin we must work out or solutions” (2). If we follow this metaphor then many of our Christian ideals will be lost but we can continue to help those that remain in our so called “lifeboat.” Hardin also says, “Let us now enrich the image, step by step, with substantive additions from the real world, a world that must solve real problems and pressing problems of overpopulation and hunger(2)”. He then tries to persuade the audience later by giving statistics about how overpopulation will be caused if we continue with the world food bank. By also using statistics Hardin captures the logos appeal of the audience by demonstrating the astonishing numbers for the reproductive cycle of both the rich and the poor social classes in the United States. The statistics that are used show that if the U.S. pooled resources with other countries, “consider the ratio after 87 years, by which the Americans would have doubled the population of 420 million. By then doubling every 21 years the group would have swollen to 354 billion people” (2). Another surprising statistic would be: “Each American would have to share the available resources with eight other people” (2). These numbers would scare anyone therefore causing a reaction the pathos appeal in the audience but because of an important factor that was missed by Hardin the audience isn’t able to fully believe the article they are reading. With all the statistics that are given we should be able to find the resources from which they came from but Hardin fails to give us any which makes him less credible and the audience will doubt where the information has come from. Furthermore Hardin also uses cause and effect to demonstrate how the “World Food Bank appeals to our humanitarian needs but in reality this program is not benefiting the poorer countries but actually leaving them to a disadvantage”(3). By having the rich countries depositing and poor countries with drawling there will be no overlap. One might ask themselves how are we not helping the poorer countries well in the article it says,” As a result of such solutions to food shortage emergencies, the poor countries will not learn to mend their ways, and will suffer progressively greater emergencies as their populations grow.(3)”. This demonstrates that with the rich and the poor countries participating in the world food bank we are not helping anybody but actually hurting each other which appeals to the pathos effect which the audience may become scared and fear for the future of the country.
Throughout Hardin’s article he uses different strategies to try to sway the audience about the world food bank and the problems it is causing. By mentioning an ancient Chinese proverb we come to understand what the solution can be to the “problem” that we have been faced with. “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach him how to fish and he will eat for days” (4). By following this advice countries can have different programs that can improve agriculture in hungry nations without losing resources. If this program is followed the rich nations can manage to help the poorer countries without having the fear that at one point they may lose enough resources for their people. In conclusion Hardin attempted to appeal to the audience with such a strong piece about our humanitarian ideals and how we must change them to be able to give to our own people. By governing our actions by the ethics of a lifeboat instead of a spaceship our nation will be better off but this idea cannot be followed because of a lack of resources. This article was well written and captures the audience attention but fails when trying the get the audience’s ethos appeal. If there had been resources to back up the information that was given throughout the essay the article would have been more credible but because of that the essay was not as strong an cannot be believed by the audience.
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