Analyzing Angle of Vision
in Two Passages about Nuclear Energy

This assignment will give you practice analyzing the angle of vision in different texts. The assignment focuses on two passages about nuclear power plants.

The first passage is from the home page of NuclearPowerNow, a nuclear power advocacy site. It was posted in 2008.

Passage 1-Nuclear Power Now

Nuclear power is the world’s largest source of emission-free energy. Nuclear power plants produce no controlled air pollutants, such as sulfur and particulates, or green- house gases. The use of nuclear power in place of other energy sources helps to keep the air clean, preserve the Earth’s climate, avoid ground-level ozone formation and prevent acid rain.

Nuclear power has important implications for our national security. Inexpensive nuclear power, in combination with fuel cell technology, could significantly reduce our dependency on foreign oil.

Nuclear power plants have experienced an admirable safety record. About 20% of electricity generated in the U.S. comes from nuclear power, and in the last forty years of this production, not one single fatality has occurred as a result of the operation of a civilian nuclear power plant in the United States. In comparison, many people die in coal mining accidents every year and approximately ten thousand Americans die every year from pollution related to coal burning.

The nuclear power industry generates approximately 2,000 tons of solid waste annually in the United States. In comparison, coal fueled power plants produce 100,000,000 tons of ash and sludge annually, and this ash is laced with poisons such as mercury and nitric oxide.

Even this 2,000 tons of nuclear waste is not a technical problem. Reprocessing of nuclear fuel, and the implementation of Integral Fast Reactor technology, will enable us to turn the vast majority of what is currently considered waste into energy.

Unfortunately, the voting public has been victimized by forty years of misinformation regarding the safety of nuclear power. The graphs on nuclear energy showing it to be safe, economical, and in our national interest are countered by anti-nuclear activists using fear tactics to frighten the electorate into inaction.

Until we can successfully educate the American electorate on the real pros and cons of nuclear power, we will not be able to engage in a healthy national discussion on the topic.

The second passage is by Carl Pope, the executive director of the Sierra Club. This brief article was posted in September 2009 on the “Great Debate” blog site hosted by Reuters, a news service focused on business and industry.

Passage 2-Nuclear Power Is Not the Way Forward

Nuclear power is not a responsible choice and makes no sense as part of America’s clean energy future. We can meet our energy needs through energy efficiency and renewable energy, and have a clean and healthy world without nuclear power.

There are four insurmountable problems with nuclear power.

First, nuclear power produces highly dangerous radioactive waste. Every nuclear reactor generates about 20 tons of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel and addi- tional low-level radioactive waste per year. The waste can kill at high doses and cause cancer and birth defects at low doses. Nuclear waste remains dangerous to humans for 200 thousand years.

Worse, we don’t know what to do with this waste once it is generated. Some propose dumping nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain, NV; however, the mountain is seismically active. An earthquake in the 1990’s caused over $1 million damage to a Department of Energy (DOE) facility at the site. In addition, a Department of Energy panel of scientists has found that the nuclear material may leak from the contain- ment vessels over time and will contaminate groundwater. On its way to Yucca Mountain, the waste would also pass through thousands of cities and towns and present multiple exposure risks.

Second, nuclear power is prohibitively expensive. The method is not anywhere near cost effective; nuclear plants in the states of Oregon, New York, Maine, Illinois, and Connecticut have been shut down because the owners found it was too expensive to keep them going.

American taxpayers are also subsidizing the nuclear industry. According to the Congressional Research Service, the industry has cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars in research and development subsidies.

Third, an accident at a coal plant is a problem, but an accident at a nuclear plant can be a disaster. Because human beings operate plants and drive the trucks that transport nuclear waste, accidents can and will happen. The danger with nuclear power is that the stakes in accidents are extremely high. Anyone exposed to radiation leaks or accidents will likely sicken or die from that exposure.

And finally, there is a risk that nuclear material will fall into the wrong hands. Some have recommended that we consider “reprocessing” of spent nuclear fuel, a method that consolidates waste into weapons-usable plutonium. The government has elaborate plans to prevent rogue nations and terrorists from stealing the nuclear fuel or waste to make nuclear bombs. The more nuclear reactors, the more risk of radioac- tive material being stolen to make bombs.

Nuclear power is not the way forward. America deserves a safer, cleaner, and cheaper energy future.

Your Task

Contrast the differences in angle of vision in these two passages by analyzing how they create their different rhetorical effects. Consider factors such as overt statements of meaning, selection/omission of details, connotations of words and figures of speech, and sentence emphasis. To help guide your analysis, review the strategies chart (“Strategies for Constructing an Angle of Vision”). Your goal here is to explain to your readers how these two passages create different impressions of nuclear power.


This Writing Exercise appears on pages 64–66 of The Allyn & Bacon Guide to Writing.

Page Last Updated: 24 August 2014