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Writing Tutorial – Pro & Con Arguments

I am struck by the weak argument against the writer’s thesis presented in the essay ‘Time is Running Out, in this Module. The writer offers one brief point by saying,’ True, some regions may enjoy some benefits. For example, the farmers on the prairies might enjoy a longer growing season.’ Then he goes on to present a series of arguments to support his thesis that Canadians need to act because of the potential negative consequences of global warming.
By not elaborating on the arguments against the thesis, the writer creates a problem for some critical readers. For example, what if a reader has read Diamandis new book, Abundance released in February 2012, where he maintains that Canada, in fact, may benefit from global warming. Diamandis claims that the countries above the 45 parallel North latitude will experience an increase in precipitation which could generate many benefits for countries like Canada. Increase agricultural production is only one of them; others include growing immigration and related economic activity, quality of life due to the natural environment, increased primary and secondary industries due to population growth just to mention a few.
Presenting a more thorough case against the writer’s thesis would force the writer to change his arguments in defense of his thesis. The writer would have to address the projected abundant rainfall as argued by Diamandis.  This points out the importance of presenting thorough pro and con arguments. Not only do critical readers expect that, but a thorough understanding of the issues requires it as well.
The case made in support of the thesis is further weakened by the fact that the writer assumes a major rise in the ocean level even though this is the most doubtful aspect of global warming. Laurence Smith in his recent bookThe World in 2050 (2011) points out that scientists know very little about the causes of potential rising sea levels. Computer models and field studies in this area of research are  in their infancy, he claims. In fact, the recent IPCC assessment of global warming did not include accelerated sea level rises. To defend his claim about massive flooding on the east and west coast, the writer would have to defend the case for coastal flooding. When a writer supports his thesis on the least supported aspect of the theory about global warming, the essay is not very convincing because the conclusion is not well supported by the information presented in the report.
The writer could have avoided the problems outlined by applying the following thinking strategies.
THINKING STRATEGY # 1Taking a stand: state a clear thesis
Present a clear thesis in the introductory paragraph. global warming trend is likely to have negative consequences’ was presented in the previous essay. No need for change here.
THINKING STRATEGY # 2Present the con arguments
As I pointed out above, the ‘con arguments’ were weak. This alerts readers to bias. A more complete presentation of the con arguments is needed to convince skeptical readers.
THINKING STRATEGY # 3Present the pro arguments
Part of the ‘pro argument’ was based on questionable data which alerts readers to further bias. The uncertainty of the data used to support coastal flooding was not acknowledged. This weakened the pro argument or the support for the thesis.
THINKING STRATEGY # 4Order the arguments
Writers are encouraged to present any con arguments first so that readers are made aware of the fact that the writer is mindful of the con arguments. Although the writer of the essay presents the con argument first, this argument receives very brief attention. This raises the suspicion of critical readers.
THINKING STRATEGY # 5Elaborate
The writer elaborated on the pro arguments but failed to do so with the con arguments. What’s more, both failed to include critical information. Hence, the arguments are not very convincing.
THINKING STRATEGY # 6Connect the arguments
The arguments were not well connected due to the lack of a common research base.
THINKING STRATEGY # 7Draw a conclusion
Although an argument can always be made for more research, it is not supported very well with current data in the essay.
Notice how the thinking strategies have been applied in the following revision of ‘Time is Running Out’.
Time is Running Out
While scientists are debating whether the people of the earth should be concerned about global warming, Canadians need to act. This is not said to belittle the debate among scientists; their research provides vital information. However, since many scientists claim that the global warming trend is likely to have negative consequences, the people of Canada should plan for the future with this information in mind.
Some scientists claim that not all regions of the globe will suffer serious negative consequences from global warming. For example, Peter Diamandis in his new book, Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think released in February 2012, maintains that Canada, in fact, may benefit from global warming. He claims that the countries above the 45 parallel North latitude will experience an increase in precipitation which could generate many benefits for countries like Canada. Increase agricultural production is only one of them; others include growing immigration and related economic activity, quality of life due to the natural environment, increased primary and secondary industries due to population growth just to mention a few.
Other scientists argue that most Canadians would suffer negative consequences (Coastal Sensitivity to Sea-Level Rise, http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/auth/english/maps/climatechange/potentialimpacts/coastalsensitivitysealevelrise/1.) The Maritimes and the West Coast would experience coastal flooding; arid regions of southern Alberta would turn into deserts; and the permafrost in the Yukon would decay more and more. Skiers would have fewer places to ski in British Columbia , Ontario and Quebec because of a shortage of snow. The fish migration patterns along the eastern shoreline might change so much that the prime fishing areas may disappear. All these changes together would have a negative impact on the lifestyle of most Canadians.

These catastrophic consequences are based on the assumption that the melting of ice caps and sliding glaciers could cause sea levels to rise as much as five feet causing major coastal flooding on  Canada’s east and west coast. However, Laurence Smith in his recent book, The World in 2050 (2011) points out that scientists know very little about the causes of potential rising sea levels. Computer models and field studies in this area of research are  in their infancy, he claims. In fact, the recent IPCC assessment of global warming did not include accelerated sea level rises.
It is for these reasons that the concern about the negative consequences of sea level increases should not be used as the grounds for Canadians to tale action in response to global warming. That is not to say that Canadians should not take action in response to global warming. Canadians and the rest of the world should conduct more research to determine the impact of global warming.
At the same time, Canadians need to take steps immediately to slow down the global warming trend. For example, Canadians should change from being one of the highest users in the world of fossil fuels to one of the lowest.  This would be a promising start to save Canada, as we know it. Not to respond to the threat of global warming would be like ignoring a tornado warning. Let’s not wait till devastation is upon us.
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Try this …
1.      Go to www.sponsoravillage.ca, click on Writing and go to Pro & con Argument. Read the ESSAY and complete the template.
2.      Write an essay using the pro & con argument and to develop your ideas. After you are pleased with your essay, edit it for grammar to create a reader’s draft.
If you have any questions about the writing process, send them to Ask Dr. Otto at www.sponsoravillage.ca.
Enjoy your writing experience.