Famine, disease, social tension and poverty – progress, societal fortitude, prosperity and facility.
All of these are consequences of one question deep at the heart of the quest for sustainable human existence; the question of the maximum capacity supportable by the planet Earth. As is true of a good deal of the puzzles plaguing our time, little consensus is to be found surrounding this topic.
Fueled by images of societal collapse, hunger and a complete depletion of natural resources, organizations such as The Population Institute seek to control what they view to be out of control population growth. On the other side of the fence, The Population Research Institute and like associations present descriptions of a bright future represented by the continued growth of humanity. They fight what they see as dangerous and disturbing attempts to slow human birth rates. These two organizations make use of various persuasive strategies to accomplish their goals. Specifically, this paper seeks to explore, analyze and to attempt to understand the reasoning behind the choices each of these two organizations have made in their uses of the Aristotelian modes of persuasion known as Ethos, Pathos and Logos.
In faded crimson text, a counter in the upper left corner of the website of the “Population Institute” ticks off to infinity. Bold capital letters proclaim this number to be the total increase in population since the user's arrival to the homepage. The candy-cane contrast of these stop-sign red digits against the white background of their table conjures images of the type of barricade denoting a damaged or closed road and seems to warn the reader of a dire and imminently approaching hazard.
Below this birth counter, buttressed by emotionally striking images, is a list of noble but non-specific goals ranging from “Empowering Women” to outright “Saving the Planet.” These honorable yet vague objectives form the centerpiece of the homepage and serve, very effectively, to grab attention and to disarm the reader of any notion of an ulterior motive. Clicking on these images only serves to bring up an apparently related picture in the afore-mentioned gallery and provides no way of obtaining additional information on their intended meanings.
The exclusive presence of South-Asian or African subjects in these photographs suggests that PRImary activities of this organization occur in distinctly non-Western countries. Further digging into the website however reveals little evidence of this. In fact, no indication is to be found anywhere that The Population Institute is active in any capacity save an informational one. All organizational operation is, it would seem, entirely bureaucratic and restricted to the distribution of counsel and to parliamentarian lobbying.
What reason could there then be for the very prominent display of images not directly linked to the mission of this institution? A possible answer is to be found in results of a study on the...