“The girl who silenced the world for 5 minutes” is a speech by Severn Cullis-Suzuki at the Rio Earth Summit of 1992. This speech is popular mainly because of the narrator and the message it bears. In the speech, the girl stands up for her views on the harsh reality of the environment while addressing a room that is full of adults. She believes that all the blame regarding the pollution needs to be directed to the adults of the world due to neglect. What makes this speech rhetorical is the fact that a thirteen-year-old was more aware of the neglect and abuse of the environment as well as their effects on the future generation, as opposed to adults. Normally, adults would be more aware of the dangers of pollution to global warming, not a thirteen-year-old girl. According to her speech, Severn believes that the adults of the world prioritize their wealth, personal success, and personal well-being, over the condition of the world that their children ought to grow up in and eventually have to try to fix it by themselves. Mainly, she emphasizes on the primary idea of calling upon the world population to show up their actions on environment preservation and not only talk about it without actions (Foss, 2017). Generally, the present environment needs to be preserved for the future generation’s sake.
Notably, the intended audience of the speech is primarily the whole world. However, through a few line in her speech, she directly hints at a specific audience who she believes can make the most difference. To her, she believes that their organization had raised all the money only to come about six thousand miles to inform the adults what they ought to have already done. Also, she believes that the adults are the people responsible for running the world; thus she hopes to reach out to them. However, her tone of voice changed later in her speech when she refers to the audience as ordinary members of the family. Despite all this, the author’s intention is quite evident from the beginning. She includes every possible living person as the receiver of the message delivered at the Rio Earth Summit of 1992.
Noteworthy, the speech read by Suzuki had a definite purpose and was intended to address a specific audience. Being an environmental conference, it is quite evident that there was a need to mention environmental issues. On the other hand, the speech was purposeful meant to educate the adults of the current realities facing people across the world. In addition, the speech aims at showcasing how different species are getting extinct due to lack of conservation and neglect from the relevant authorities. In fact, it is disheartening when children are seen dying in the streets of Rio as a result of starvation and negligence. Consequently, the speech sends a warning to the whole world of possible circumstances when the adults ignore the current realities of what is happening across the world (McGuire, 2010). As per the speech, she believes that the potential consequences will be felt like a burden to the future generation. Therefore, there is a need for the intended audience to change their ways of life and further take action where necessary.
The author builds and further presents the argument by emphasizing in the speech and laying emphasis on how she and her team traveled many miles, solely motivated by a care for their future. Despite putting such efforts, future is being destroyed by those who are supposed to be at the forefront planning for their future. In the speech, the author listed many issues in the world which include extinction, holes in the ozone layer and poverty. The speech demonstrates that the future lies in the hands of the adults because those being only children do not have any solutions to the problems (Graff, 2010). What is remarkable about the speech is the closing remark where Suzuki mentions that all children are taught in the early stages of life the simple behavioral qualities than not even the adults can showcase. This demonstrates how the author managed to connect with the audience despite addressing the entire world. Every person has a responsibility to make their actions reflect their own words.
Besides, the author employs the use of artistic proof in the speech which plays a significant role in engaging and persuading the audience. For instance, the use of pathos is evident through the speech. Severn Cullis-Suzuki mainly uses them to refer to personal experiences but also makes it relatable for the audience. In fact, it puts every person in thoughts of what needs to be done to solve a particular escalating crisis. Suzuki says, “…..but now I wonder if they will even exist for my children to see (The girl who silenced the world for 5 minutes, 4:36 minutes).” This is a perfect demonstration of pathos as it demands an emotional response because the intended audience will feel that their actions will in future affect the children of an innocent child (Leach, 2000). On the other hand, the author employs the use of rhetorical questions which plays a significant role in silencing the audience to reflect on the future that they are creating for future generations. Therefore, it is considered as a handy literary device that is used in the persuasive text.