Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

David Coogan

Second Advisor

James Kinney

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Hodges

Fourth Advisor

Vickie Connors


Many U.S. conservatives view government mandates to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases as a threat to the economy of the developed world. Conservative think tanks have adopted a common rhetoric to instill doubt about proposed mandates in the minds of elected officials, the media, and the public. Using a survey of the websites of 14 conservative think tanks, this thesis analyzes counter-claims to global warming theory to identify rhetorical artifacts that typically characterize conservative responses to issues, and to show how rhetorical theory can help anticipate the nature of such responses. The research identifies unifying speech codes – such as ideographs and commonplaces – that provide the conservative movement’s appeal. The conclusion is that conservative counter-claims to global warming theory are an application of longstanding principles in a new and transformative way; and that the conservative movement is actually a “new social movement” as described by rhetorical theorists.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2010