An essay about communication

Reflection 3 Prompt:Freedom of speech is an important element of the First Amendment. Briefly explain (in your own words) what “freedom of speech” means. How do you think “freedom of speech” should be treated at the University of Washington? For example, who should be allowed to speak here? what should they be allowed to speak about? what are the limits you’d place on who can speak and what they can speak about? How does the First Amendment’s framing of “freedom of speech” support your positions? Reference explicitly at least one of the readings from week 4.Your work must be your own original response to this prompt.A note about reflection structure: 500 words equal about 2 double-spaced pages. You should write in complete sentences, use paragraphs, spell check, and proofread. Also, for each assignment, EVERY word (including quoted words) count toward the total word count.Grading Criteria:If you have a question or concern about your grade, once it is posted, go see your TA in person. We do not respond to comments posted here.Writing: 1. Is your response 450-500 words? Include your word count as the last word in your assignment. Simply include the number. This is a word limit, not suggestion.2. Is your response proofread and spellchecked?3. Is your response coherent and well-structured? Content: 1. Did you accurately explain freedom of speech?2. Did you explain how you think freedom of speech should be treated at the UW?3. Did you effectively support your position(s) on freedom of speech at UW with information from the First Amendment?4. Did you reference explicitly at least one article from week 4?
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By Michelle Nijhuis
May 15, 2014
In the nineteen-thirties, the literary theorist Kenneth Burke proposed what he
called the “comic frame”—the view, he wrote, of “human antics as a comedy,
albeit as a comedy ever on the verge of the most disastrous tragedy.” Tragedy
marches inexorably toward the end, but comedy keeps us guessing at our fate.
Christina Foust, a communications professor at the University of Denver,
points out that climate science, and climate news, is often presented as a tragic
apocalypse: a fate foretold. (Earlier this week, the glaciologist Eric Rignot told
reporters that a section of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet had thinned past “the
point of no return.”) While many climate disasters are undeniably nigh, Foust
says that coverage of them could benefit from Burke’s comic framing.
Climate scientists are relative newcomers to the tragic apocalypse. The native
tongue of science is generally passive and emotionless, and it’s often reflective
of the uncertainty that’s an inherent part of the scientific process. This
approach doesn’t translate easily to a general audience—hesitations and hedges
are quickly exploited. But, as the data on climate change piles up, the
projections are getting closer in time and in space, and, after years in the
public arena, climate scientists have become much better at communicating
the scary gravity of their findings. As I’ve reported on climate change in the
past decade, I’ve heard more and more scientists cast aside superfluous caveats
and switch to active verbs. I’ve even heard them talk about their feelings.
A few years ago, psychologists at Columbia’s Center for Research on
Environmental Decisions showed students one of two computer presentations
about melting glaciers. The first presentation used statistics and graphs to
explain the connection between climate change and ice melt. The second
conveyed the same information with pictures and personal stories: testimony
from a Tanzanian farmer about the effects of climate change and satellite
footage of glacier retreat on Mt. Kilimanjaro. Students who saw the second
presentation not only retained more information but also expressed more
concern and demonstrated a greater willingness to take action. Climate
scientists may still prefer graphs and stats, but they are learning to include an
emotional appeal when they present information to the public.
Clarity and immediacy are welcome, but they may not be enough. A half
century of psychological research on “fear appeals”— messages that attempt to
scare listeners straight—has found that invocations of fear are very good at
capturing our attention but not very good at keeping it. Each of us has what
Elke Weber, the co-director of the Center for Research on Environmental
Decisions, describes as a “finite pool of worry,” and we tend to fill it with
immediate personal concerns. Fear appeals make only a ripple. “We’ve
survived for a long time by focussing on the here and now,” Weber told me.
“Climate change is an unprecedented challenge, cognitively and emotionally.
Somehow, we have to figure out ways of extending and institutionalizing our
attention to it.”
One way to sustain attention, psychologists find, is to accompany frightening
news with a set of achievable actions. “If you want me to change Congress,
that’s too big,” Janet Swim, a Penn State University psychologist who studies
climate change communication, said. “If you want me to change a light bulb,
that’s too small. You have to give me a solution that’s both viable and
credible.” Reforms at the Goldilocks scale—campaigns for energy-efficient
cities, state-level emissions-reduction targets—have the best chance of keeping
participants engaged, she said.
Scientists are not in the policymaking business. Neither are journalists. But
both do far more than elegantly articulate the coming disasters. We can focus
our respective tools on possible solutions and adaptations—and, with luck,
find credible paths away from the tragic cliff.
Illustration by Richard McGuire.
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Few Americans are as affected by climate change as Alaska’s Inupiat, or as dependent
on the fossil-fuel economy.
By Tom Kizzia
The Inupiat have been torn between promoting lucrative oil drilling and protecting the waters they
hunt in.
Photograph by Katie Orlinsky
he spring hunt started promisingly last year for the village of Point
Hope, on the Chukchi Sea in northern Alaska: crews harpooned two
bowhead whales and pulled them onto the ice for butchering. But then the
T
winds shifted. Out on the pack where the water opened up, the ice at the edge
was what is called sikuliaq, too young and unreliable to bear a thirty-ton whale
carcass. The hunters could do nothing but watch the shining black backs of
bowheads, breathing calmly, almost close enough to touch.
On a trip to the ice edge, Tariek Oviuk, a hunter from Point Hope, felt a
strange sensation: the lift of ocean waves beneath his feet. The older men,
nervous about the rising wind, hurried back toward shore, but the younger
hunters remained, stripping blubber from a few small beluga whales. Then the
crack of three warning shots came rolling across the ice, and the hunters
scrambled for their snowmobiles. “As soon as we heard those shots, my heart
started pounding,” Oviuk recalled.
As Oviuk told me the story, a few months later, we were sitting in the kitchen
of his friend Steve Oomittuk, a former village mayor, eating strips of
maktaaq—chewy beluga blubber—off a piece of cardboard that quickly grew
sodden with whale oil. Oviuk is thirty-five, tall and square-jawed, a former
basketball star for the Point Hope high-school team, the Harpooners, and a
member of a local troupe that performs traditional storytelling dances. “That
was our way of communication,” he told me. “That was our people’s iPhones
since time immemorial.”
Oviuk said that when he heard the shots he started running, then jumped into
a passing sled filled with slippery blubber. “That’s not a beautiful thing, to be
in a sled full of maktaaq,” he said. Another snowmobile driver swung by to
rescue him, and Oviuk clambered aboard. Then they stopped: a gap of blue
water, a hundred feet across, had opened between them and the shore-fast ice.
The driver, in a parka and ski pants, said, “Hold on.” Accelerating, their
heavily laden snowmobile leaped off the ice and skipped over the surface of the
Chukchi Sea. Others followed, engines screaming, until everyone was across.
“I didn’t believe in global warming—I’ll tell you that straight up,” Oviuk said.
“But I teared up out there. I was thinking, Every year, we don’t know if it’s the
last time we’re going to see the ice.”
Point Hope sits at the northwesternmost corner of North America, on one of
the oldest continuously settled sites on the continent. Eight hundred people
live near the eroding tip of a fifteen-mile gravel spit thrust into the Chukchi
Sea, a peninsula that the Inupiat call Tikigaq, or “index finger.” For two
thousand years, the digit, stuck into coastal migration routes, has provided an
ideal hunting perch. Tikigaq was a capital of the pre-contact Arctic, whose
prosperity depended on a subtle understanding of the restless plains of ice that
surrounded the community in winter.
In Paris last December, a hundred and ninety-five nations agreed to limit
greenhouse-gas emissions and slow the warming of the planet. President
Obama, speaking at the Paris conference, called for the global economy to
move toward a low-carbon future, citing his own recent trip to Alaska, where
melting glaciers, crumbling villages, and thawing permafrost were “a glimpse
of our children’s fate if the climate keeps changing faster than our efforts to
address it.” The goal in Paris was to hold the average global increase in
temperature to less than two degrees Celsius. The Arctic, which is warming at
twice the rate of lower latitudes, has already shot beyond that: average annual
air temperatures have increased by about three degrees. If trends continue,
northern Alaska is expected to warm another six degrees by the end of the
century.
These days, the ice disappears so fast in spring that villagers struggle to catch
bearded seals, whose skins are traditionally used in Point Hope to cover
hunting boats. Ice cellars in the permafrost, packed with frozen whale meat,
are filling with water. People are worried about these changes. Like most
families in the village, Oomittuk’s survives on wild game; much of the living
space in his small house was taken up by two big chest freezers. Villages in
Alaska’s Arctic consume nearly four hundred and fifty pounds of wild game
and fish per person each year, according to a recent study. “Without the
animals, we wouldn’t be who we are,” Oomittuk said.
With a warm July wind battering the peninsula, Oomittuk took me on a fourwheeler ride for a glimpse of Point Hope’s past glory. Years ago, elders on the
tribal council had picked Oomittuk as a kind of tradition bearer. An amiable
fifty-four-year-old with a long wisp of chin hair, he had grown rounder and
softer since his own whale-hunting days, when he once helped repel a polar
bear nosing into his tent by brandishing a cast-iron skillet. He explained that
the lumps in the tundra, visible in all directions, were the husks of prehistoric
earthen homes.
Along the coast where people hunt and camp, Oomittuk said, there are
haunted places where no one ever stops. (In 1981, the ethnographer Ernest
Burch identified four such zones, avoided because of “nonempirical
phenomena.”) Explorers and whalers in the nineteenth century described
Point Hope as an open graveyard, with skeletal remains arrayed for miles atop
funerary racks of bleached whalebones—essential building materials in a land
without trees. Episcopal missionaries at Point Hope eventually persuaded
villagers to bury the human remains—as many as twelve hundred skulls,
according to one account—in a single mass grave, surrounded by a picket
fence of repurposed bowhead mandibles. At an abandoned village site nearby,
we found a line of weathered-gray bones, staked into the tundra by
missionaries a century ago to help converts find their way through the
blizzards to church.
We drove to the beach overlooking the Chukchi Sea, where the evidence of
erosion was plain. The peninsula used to extend considerably farther out.
Prehistoric settlements have eroded away, and artifacts wash up after fall
storms. “I love my way of life,” Oomittuk said in a soothing baritone. “My
grandfather’s life. The cycle of life. The connection to the land, the sea, the
sky.”
Few Americans are as bound to the natural world as the whale hunters of the
Arctic, or as keenly affected by the warming atmosphere. Yet few Americans
are so immediately dependent on the continued expansion of the fossil-fuel
economy that science says is causing the change. The underground igloo
where Oomittuk was born, in 1962, had earthen walls braced with wood
scraps and whalebone, and a single electric light bulb. Point Hope today is a
grid of small but comfortable homes, laid out around a new school and a
diesel-fired power plant—everything provided by a regional municipality with
eight thousand permanent residents and an annual budget of four hundred
million dollars. Oil drilling in the Arctic has paid for nearly all of it, and
Oomittuk does not want to go back.
There is a cost, though. Over the horizon from the beach where we stood,
Shell Oil had assembled a floating city. The project was opening an entirely
new part of the Arctic Ocean to oil drilling. The dangers posed to the Tikigaq
hunting culture by a massive spill were never far from Oomittuk’s mind. But
he worried, too, about how the village would survive if there was no more oil
industry. The trade-offs have racked Alaska’s Inupiat communities. For nearly
a decade, Point Hope pressed a lawsuit against the offshore leases, becoming a
last stronghold of indigenous opposition. Finally, in the spring of 2015, the
village dropped the suit. On the day the thin ice nearly carried Tariek Oviuk
out to sea, his whaling captain had been in Houston, meeting with Shell
officials.
he first oil boom in the Alaskan Arctic was devastating for the Inupiat. It
began in 1848, when Yankee whalers, having depleted the sperm whales
of the Pacific, discovered an unexploited population of bowheads north of the
Bering Strait. In two decades, the fleet killed nearly thirteen thousand of the
oil-rich whales, and then it turned to decimating the walrus. Eskimo hunting
communities, already struggling with alcohol and diseases brought by the
whalers, faced another scourge: hunger. In the early eighteen-eighties, a
government revenue cutter that landed on St. Lawrence Island, south of the
Bering Strait, found that a thousand inhabitants had died of starvation. At
Point Hope, dozens of people starved, but only after eating their dogs and
making soup from the skins off their boats.
T
The second boom came after 1968, when oil was discovered at Prudhoe Bay,
and this time the Inupiat were better prepared. A pipeline had to be built
across Alaska to a tanker port, and the Inupiat, along with other Alaska
natives, asserted rights to the federal land along the way; the question of
aboriginal land rights had gone unresolved since Alaska was bought from
Russia.
In 1971, Congress awarded the natives a huge settlement: forty-four million
acres and nearly a billion dollars. In another age, the settlement might have
been used to create reservations, to sequester aspects of a traditional life.
Instead, the land went to twelve new for-profit corporations, owned by native
shareholders. Some natives were ambivalent about entrusting their future to a
corporation, and worried about losing hunting and fishing grounds to sale or
bankruptcy. But the more urbanized leaders saw a means of forcing their way
into Alaska’s modern economy: one activist said that native corporations
would be “the new harpoon.”
When Steve Oomittuk was growing up, Point Hope, the once-great capital of
the Arctic, had receded to the margin of the civilized world. People lived in
small frame houses and in a few last underground homes, scavenging materials
by dog team from abandoned whaling and military sites. Oomittuk recalled
that the most exquisite treat available at the village store was a roll of Life
Savers.
In the decade after oil was discovered, regional leaders organized a municipal
government and set out to reverse a long history of neglect. The North Slope
Borough, encompassing the town of Barrow and seven small villages in an area
the size of Minnesota, was given authority to collect property taxes from the
new production facilities and pipelines. The borough built power plants,
schools with swimming pools, sewer systems with heaters to prevent freezing.
Today, the government subsidizes a tribal college, child care, bus service,
heating oil, and a thirty-five-million-dollar public-safety department. In 1997,
the borough’s helicopters rescued a hundred and seventy-three whalers drifting
into the fog on a breakaway slab of ice.
In Point Hope, Oomittuk’s father served on the local tribal council and helped
launch the new government. The entire community was moved two miles
from the fast-eroding tip of the peninsula, and the population doubled, as
wages and transportation lifted the air of deprivation around village life.
Oomittuk began working as a carpenter and started a family.
He was uneasy about some of the changes that the new prosperity brought.
During a no-bid construction boom in the nineteen-eighties, he watched a
corruption scandal bring down a borough mayor. New tools like outboards
and snowmobiles improved hunters’ productivity but required cash; Oomittuk
had one of the village’s last dog teams, until a power line blew down and
landed in his dog yard. On the other hand, Oomittuk was on the borough’s
payroll for a decade as village fire chief—one of many positions that set North
Slope communities apart from the two hundred or so other villages in Alaska.
Point Hope today has a spotless fire station, with a full-time staff of four and a
fire engine, a tanker truck, and an ambulance. By contrast, when a fire last
spring in Emmonak, a village in the southwestern part of the state, roared
through a fish-processing plant, residents could only stand beside their
broken-down equipment and watch.
The cultures of the Arctic were known for being quick to adopt new
technology, but subsistence-hunting traditions remained at the heart of
Inupiat life. Oomittuk joined the tribal council, and worked as a harpooner in
his uncle’s umiak skin boat. In the North Slope villages, whaling captains
continued to serve as leaders of the community. These captains tended to be
the best village hunters: shrewd judges of ice and men, affluent enough to
support a crew and a camp, passing down their equipment and know-how to
generations of whalers. In general, the captains embraced the opportunities of
the oil age—as long as the oil was drilled on land, away from the marine
hunting grounds.
When oil companies made efforts to drill in the Beaufort Sea, the captains’
association, along with the North Slope Borough, raised alarms about the
intrusion of industrial traffic and noise in the migratory corridors of the whales
and seals. Above all, they feared an uncontrolled oil spill in an icebound ocean,
far from cleanup reinforcements. In 2008, Shell Oil bid heavily for federal
leases in the Chukchi Sea, and a series of clamorous hearings began on the
North Slope. Feelings were particularly strong in Point Hope, which had an
unusual history of activism: in the early nineteen-sixties, the village stopped a
plan by government scientists to use “peaceful” nuclear weapons to blast a
harbor out of a nearby valley. “There were some very harsh words said about
oil companies at meetings here,” Oomittuk recalled. Villagers invoked
memories of the starvation that followed the Yankee whalers. Caroline
Cannon, an activist who led delegations to Washington, D.C., said at the
time, “It feels as if the government and industry want us to forget who we
are . . . as if they hope we will either give up or die fighting. We are not giving
up.” The North Slope Borough and the whaling captains sued to stop the first
federal permits, and Shell was forced to retreat. To succeed, the company
realized, it would need to find allies among the Eskimos.
towering wooden fence, fifteen feet high and a half mile long, runs
across the north side of Point Hope, built by the borough to protect
against winds that descend from the North Pole. Before the fence was built,
Oomittuk’s work as fire chief included shovelling houses out of drifts,
sometimes relying on their stovepipes to find them. When I returned to Point
Hope last March, I walked along the fence, freshly buried in snow, on the way
to Oomittuk’s house for a dinner of raw whale meat and caribou stew. The sky
was blue and the air calm, but ominous drifts tapered to the south of every
house. Soon the wind came, and the next morning Oomittuk’s house was
frigid: the stove had run out of oil. The wind chill was thirty-eight below,
according to my phone. Dishes on shelves on the north wall rattled with each
gust. Oomittuk went out in t …
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