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Rbetoric of tbe Perpetual Potential: A Case Study of the Environmentalist Movement to Protect Orangutans
Environmental Communication Yearbook (2006)
  • Stacey Sowards
Abstract
Environmentalists often employ apocalyptic or doomsday rhetoric to draw attention to a particular environmental problem or issue. Using orangutan protection organizations and primatologists as a case study, this essay suggests that an alternative to apocalyptic rhetoric, the rhetoric of perpetual potential, can create an impetus for environmental activism through emphasis on hopeful solutions. Perpetual potential rhetoric, features appeals of uniqueness, precariousness, and timeliness (Cox, 1982). Environmental organizations use perpetuality to illustrate how orangutans are unique above all other endangered species and always on the brink of extinction in temporal contexts of the past, present, and future. They also emphasize the potentiality for saving orangutans and rain forests from extinction through their hopeful rhetoric, rather than doomsday or apocalyptic rhetoric. This study examines rhetorical practices in both Western and Indonesian contexts and languages, demonstrating that international cultural contexts play a significant role in the success of the perpetual potential.
Publication Date
January 1, 2006
Citation Information
Stacey Sowards. "Rbetoric of tbe Perpetual Potential: A Case Study of the Environmentalist Movement to Protect Orangutans" Environmental Communication Yearbook (2006)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/stacey_sowards/3/