Best of: Persuasive Research Essays

"Environmental Impacts of Fracking" by Anastasia Johnson, Canfield, OH

Since the beginning of civilization, people have attempted to develop energy sources that would make their lives easier. Initially, mankind worked on capturing fire for their own purposes. Over the centuries, they developed different types of natural resources, such as coal. Ultimately, in the nineteenth century, it was discovered that oil could be drilled and utilized to power the new industrial age. Now at the beginning of the twenty-first century, science has shown that the exploration for and use of these natural resources can sometimes be detrimental to the overall environment. The process of drilling, known as fracking, is one of the current methods used to extract oil from beneath the earth’s surface. The challenge for our generation is how to responsibly explore for vital natural resources, such as oil, without damaging our world and its environment.

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is the process that removes natural gas and oil from deep rock formations. Fracking is pumping high pressure water into oil and gas wells to create fissures and cracks in a reservoir rock. When these fissures happen, natural gas and oil are released. Each well requires from two to four million gallons of water for the hydraulic fracturing process (Els and Cuba). The water contains high levels of total dissolved solids, fracturing fluid additives, metals, and radioactive materials, and sand. During the fracking process the water is injected into the well. The water that comes out of the well with the oil is called the flowback water. After the flowback water comes out of the well, it is transported by truck to a pit. A lining is placed in the pit to prevent seepage into the ground. Although fracking has great benefits to the economy, part of the debate is how to treat, transport, and dispose of the flowback water.

Some flowback water is reused to produce fracking fluid for future wells. This is a benefit because it reduces the discharges to the treatment facilities and reduces the amount of waste water injected underground, but the number that can be reduced is dependent on the levels of pollutants in the wastewater (“Natural Gas Extraction - Hydraulic Fracturing”). Disposing of the flowback water is a challenge when trying to ensure that it does not mix with the surface of the earth and the drinking water. Recycling the flowback water preserves the local water supply, but the drawback is that if it is not properly disposed of, the flowback fluid may enter the drinking water supply.

Another potentially harmful byproduct of fracking is the release of methane gas. Methane gas is said to have been found in some areas close to where fracking has occurred. One example of this occurred in Wyoming. The citizens in the rural town of Pavilion, Wyoming, claimed that methane, ethane, and phenol were found in a water well after hydraulic fracturing occurred whereas before fracking occurred the town had water quality within a normal range (“Fracking suspected in water pollution”). This has caused some drinking water to actually catch on fire. This is a serious safety concern. Even the latest technology cannot remove all chemicals from the wastewater. Some companies are trying to come up with new chemicals to use in the process of fracking so it will not harm the environment (Henricks). However, there are many other ecological concerns that must be addressed when discussing fracking.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) may be emitted during fracking. Chemicals containing VOCs are sometimes used during the fracking procedure. Some of these chemicals are: benzene, toluene, ethyl, benzene, and xylenes. These VOCs can be released into the atmosphere. Coming in contact with VOC’s can cause serious harm to human health. Symptoms such as headache, loss of coordination, and damage to the liver and kidneys are common. It may also contribute to severe respiratory and immune system problems (Brown). The leaking of hydraulic fracturing flowback water into a water source affects the environment. Precautions need to be taken so the environment is safe and our water sources are protected. The quality of water is determined by the chemical, physical and biological characteristics of water. It is the characteristics of water that make it safe for drinking and recreation. The physical factors in determining water quality include color, pH, temperature, and turbidity, which is cloudiness in water. The components of water are nutrients, dissolved solid, dissolved oxygen, dissolved minerals, nitrogen, and phosphorous nutrients (Maczulak).

There are many tests for water quality. The most important water quality test is dissolved oxygen. Dissolved oxygen measures the capability of water to support plants and animals. Another way to test water involves the total solid test. It measures both dissolved and suspended solids. The six different types of solids found in water are silt, clay, soil runoff, plankton, industrial waste, and sewage. The Nitrates test in water means to test and monitor how much nitrogen is in the water. It is important for water to contain nitrogen, especially if it has living organisms in it. Biochemical Oxygen Demand is another common water quality test, it measures the amount of oxygen removed from an aquatic environment by aerobic microorganisms. It measures many levels of organic pollution in lakes and streams. One of the most important tests for aquatic life is the pH level. pH stands for the power of hydrogen. During the process of testing for pH, if the test comes out to be less than 7, it means the water is acidic. If the test comes out to be greater than 7, it means that the water is a base. There are many other tests to test for water quality, but those are some of the basic tests. All the water quality tests mentioned can be done using water quality test strips (Maczulak). One of the methods to determine the quality of water and to see if it is contaminated is to determine the location of the water source. Water quality is different depending on whether it came from agricultural, residential, rural, or suburban locations. Water from industrial facilities or landfills will often contain chemicals. Toxic products can also affect water systems. For example, items used for gardening, such as fertilizers, may leak into the ground and contaminate a water system. It is often recommended that the use of organic products in your home and garden can prevent the water systems from being polluted (Maczulak).

There are also basic toxicological tests that determine if the water is toxic (National Institute of Health). Daphnia, which are small planktonic crustaceans, also called water fleas because of their saltatory swimming style, are used by scientists to perform tests to test the toxicity in water. They are 0.2 to 0.5 mm in length and they have a short lifespan which may extend to 2 months. They obtain food by eating bacteria in water. Daphnia are broken up into segments, but the segments are not visible to see. The head of the Daphnia is bent down towards the body and it has antennae and compound eyes. The carapace of the Daphnia is translucent. Looking through a microscope, the Daphnia’s eggs and digestive system are visible as well as its beating heart (National Institute of Health). Scientists use Daphnia to test the toxicity in water because Daphnia are very sensitive to toxins. Daphnia are an important member of zooplankton in many bodies of water. It is a food source for many animals. Daphnia are a main food source for fish. In waters where fish are not thriving in and the Daphnia are not surviving, that may mean the water is toxic. Daphnia can live in lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers. Daphnia are useful in present research and scientists will continue to use them in future studies. Daphnia reproduce parthenogenetically, meaning the reproduction from an ovum without fertilization. They reproduce in the spring through the end of the summer and can reproduce every 10 days. Daphnia can reproduce 20 Daphnia in each brood. The young are nurtured in the brood pouch inside of the carapace. The young when they hatch molt many times a week until they are fully grown. Usually they stop molting two weeks after they hatch (National Institute of Health).

There are ways to reduce the toxicity of water. Filtering is one method. Filtering separates solids from liquids. Filtering is used in biological and chemical processes. There are two types of filter media: surface filter and depth filter. A surface filter is a solid sieve which traps solid particles. A depth filter retains solid particles. The most common materials used to filter water are carbon and sand. Recently, researchers have been seeking ways to filter fracking water. This will be expensive to treat because of the quantities of water used during the fracking process (“Treatment of Flowback Water from Hydraulic Fracturing Operations”).

One pertinent example of how flowback water impacts the environment is how it affects plant life. Seed biology is one of the most extensively researched areas in plant physiology. Seed dormancy is usually defined as a failure of an intact viable seed to complete germination under favorable conditions. Before considering dormancy (which is a block to the completion of germination) it is important to first consider germination. Germination commences with the uptake of water by the dry seed and terminates with the elongation of the embryonic axis. Seed dormancy is defined as the failure of the intact viable seed to complete germination (Bewley).

Given the potentially serious risks associated with fracking, the obvious question arises as to whether theses risks are justified. Fracking has, in fact, generated tremendous economic benefits to the United States. This process has benefited many people. Arjun Sreekumar states, “A statement from the White House Council of Economic Advisors last year summed it up nicely: ‘Every barrel of oil or cubic foot of gas that we produce at home and instead of importing abroad means more jobs, faster growth and a lower trade deficit.’” Over the course of 11 years, 400,000 direct jobs and two million indirect jobs, have been created (Sreekumar). Indirect jobs would be jobs such as construction, information services, and transportation. Not only has fracking increased the U.S employment rate, but it has reduced our reliance on foreign oil, and our trade balances have improved. Our foreign exports have exceeded our imports. Due to a large increase in the U.S oil production over the past few years and a reduction in oil imports, the U.S trade deficit is $34.3 billion. This is the lowest it has been in four years. From 2000-2012, the U.S trade deficit averaged $7.1 trillion (Sreekumar). For years, America was assumed to remain the largest energy importer until we started fracking. There have been some perks to fracking because since we have an abundant supply of natural gas, we have reduced energy costs. Fracking makes buying energy much more affordable. Michael R. Bloomberg and George P. Mitchell stated that, “In the Northeast alone, fracking has helped stimulate major infrastructure investments that will soon bring the first new interstate natural-gas pipeline to New York City in decades” (Bloomberg and Mitchell). Juan R. Cuba and Patricia Els remarked that, “The shale gas industry is on track to contribute $118 billion to the U.S economy by 2015.”

A major focus of the fracking debate has focused on the potential impacts on local communities. There are ongoing investigations in some states revolving around the detrimental aspects of fracking to the environment, infrastructure, and health of workers and citizens near drill sites. In Youngstown, Ohio, Ben Lupo, a Mahoning County businessman, violated the Clean Water Act, by dumping 20,000 gallons of flowback water into the Mahoning River. An investigation determined that he knowingly and willfully polluted Ohio waterways. Currently, discussions center on establishing best management practices for fracking companies, drillers and the need for comprehensive demographic data collection and public awareness campaigns (Tillett). The goal is to limit both negligent and accidental environmental damage while at the same time producing needed energy.

Several states and countries are working to find ways to control the potentially harmful impacts of fracking. In North Carolina, there are tens of thousands of private well users in each of the counties that could be affected by gas extraction. Hope Taylor, Executive Director of the non-profit Clean Water for North Carolina, said, “We do not know all of the conditions that would be required to carry out such operations to prevent contamination.” Recommendations from the North Carolina work group included identification of legal and physical impact to landowners and others living near drilling locations, and economic impacts to affected communities. The local infrastructure would also be affected with increased traffic, equipment, and activities associated with drilling. Big business and large investors would benefit, whereas local communities would bear most of the costs related to noise, air emissions, possible drinking well contamination, traffic, and community disruption (Tillett). New York has the most notable and recent point of opposition to fracking. The state of New York placed a moratorium on fracking in 2008 to begin a review process including a study from the New York state department of health. On December 17, 2014, Governor Cuomo banned fracking in New York officially (Kaplan). Vermont has formally banned fracking, and New Jersey has enacted a moratorium as well. Other states seem likely to follow. The concerns of fracking extend not only beyond state lines but across international boundaries.

According to Brantley and Meyendorff, the authors from the New York Times article, “The Facts on Fracking,” “France and Bulgaria, countries with the largest shale-gas reserves in Europe, have already banned fracking.” The reason for this, is that it causes many environmental concerns. There are concerns, such as the toxicity of the “fracking cocktail” and how it is affecting the environment. The chemicals used to make up the fracking cocktail have not been fully disclosed.  Individual oil and gas exploration companies are reluctant to disclose the formula of these fluid mixtures due to the competitive nature of the business. As far as we can understand the ingredients used for the “cocktail” include acids, poisons, and detergents. If these ingredients seeped into our drinking water, it would be problematic. Also, the methane gas could escape into the environment. Brantley and Meyendorff state that, “Water from the gas wells often returns to the surface containing extremely low but measurable concentrations of radioactive elements and huge concentrations of salt”; If this water is not disposed of properly it could be detrimental. The fracking process causes some local issues, too. For example, injection-induced earthquakes are occurring around some areas that are near drilling sites. Also, there have been trucking accidents which spill fracking fluids which then leak into our soil and water which contaminates i.t

In the Economist article “Fracking Great,” those who support hydraulic fracturing, do not argue against the environmental concerns. In fact, the pro-frackers agree with the anti-frackers that there can be risks to fracking, but they believe that they can be managed. People involved with the fracking process have taken many precautions to make fracking less harmful to the environment. They are trying to limit methane emissions by preventing gas from venting, which would result in less of a risk of tremors. They will accomplish this by creating well shafts that do not leak. Taking these precautions would add 7% to the cost of the average shale-gas well drilling procedure. Besides the environmental risks, fracking has benefited the United States economy. Roughly 20,000 shale gas wells have been fracked. Fracking these wells have brought in thousands of jobs directly and indirectly. Also, there has been a major drop in gas prices since we now have an abundant amount of natural gas because of fracking. The oil and gas industry has directly benefited our economy.

The United States and countries around the world are at a critical point in terms of energy production. While efforts to develop green energy sources such as wind and solar power are ongoing, these renewable energy sources are not yet adequate to supply the world’s needs. There continues to be a need for fossil fuels for now and into the foreseeable future. The world’s population continues to expand and with this growth comes the demand for energy that will power a twenty-first energy lifestyle. Fortunately, even the proponents of fracking recognize that fracking can cause damage to the environment if it is not properly done and that all safeguards be taken. For good or bad, fracking will be continued to be used for some time. The hope is that fracking’s benefits outweigh its costs without creating damage to the environment.

Works Cited

“AR News, May 2012 “Energy Industry works to Recycle Hydro Fracking Waste Water N.p., n.d. Web 03 Jan. 2013.

Bakhsh, Nidaa, and Brian Swint. “Fracking Spreads Worldwide.” Bloomberg Businessweek. Bloomberg, 14 Nov. 2013. Web. 12 Dec. 2014.

Bewley, J. D. "Seed Germination and Dormancy." The Plant Cell Online 9.7 (1997): 1055-066. Print.

Bloomberg, Michael R., and George P. Mitchell. "Fracking Is Too Important to Foul up.” The Washington Post. The Washington Post, 23 Aug. 2012. Web. 21 Dec. 2014.

Brantley, Susan L., and Anna Meyendorff. “The Facts on Fracking.” The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 13 Mar. 2013. Web. 12 Dec. 2014.

Brown, Valerie J. "Putting The Heat On Gas." Environmental Health Perspectives 115.2 (2007): A76. Academic Search Premier. Web. 13 Nov. 2014.

Els, Patricia, and Juan R. Cuba. "Frack Water TREATMENT CHALLENGE." Pollution Engineering 45.5 (2013): 41-44. Academic Search Premier. Web. 25 Nov. 2014.

“EPA looks at wastewater from fracking.” Science Online. Facts on File, Inc. Web. 29 Nov. 2012.

“Fracking Great.” The Economist. The Economist Newspaper, 2 Jun. 2012. Web. 17 Dec. 2014.

“Fracking suspected in water pollution.” Science Online. Facts on File, Inc. Web. 29 Nov. 2012.

“Fracturing Fluid Management.” Home. N.p.,n.d. Web. 07 Jan. 2012.

Hassett, Kevin A. "Benefits of Hydraulic Fracking." American Enterprise Institute. American Enterprise Institute, 04 Apr. 2013. Web. 18 Dec. 2014.

Henricks, Mark. "Energy Industry Works to Recycle Hydro-fracking Waste Water." American Recycler. American Recycler, May 2012. Web. 04 Dec. 2014.

Kaplan, Thomas. "Citing Health Risks, Cuomo Bans Fracking in New York State.” The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 17 Dec. 2014. Web. 17 Dec. 2014.

Maczulak, Anne. “Water Quality.” Science Online. Facts on File, Inc. Web. 29 Nov. 2012.

McMahon, Jeff. “Six Reasons Fracking Has Flopped Overseas.” Forbes. Forbes Media, 4 May 2013. Web. 13 Dec. 2014.

“Natural Gas Extraction-Hydraulic Fracturing.” EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Web. 07 Jan. 2013.

Sreekumar, Arjun. "How Fracking Has Helped the U.S. Economy." The Motley Fool. N.p., 30 Mar. 2014. Web. 18 Dec. 2014.

Tillett, Tanya. "Summit Discusses Public Health Implications Of Fracking." Environmental Health Perspectives 121.1 (2013): A15. Academic Search Premier. Web. 13 Nov. 2014.

“Treatment of Flowback Water from Hydraulic Fracturing Operation.” Technology Data Sheet. TDS812. United Kingdom: Global Advantech Limited, 2012.

United States. Dept. of the Interior. Environmental Protection Agency. “Natural Gas Extraction Hydraulic Fracturing.” EPA. United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2 Oct. 2014. Web. 21 Dec. 2014.

"Comprehensive Sexual Education" by Shannon Symons, Loveland, OH

Going through the sex unit in health or attending a sex ed. class is probably the most stereotypically awkward experience to go through in school. Everyone’s all flustered because the teacher said “sex” and the entire class is making dirty jokes left and right. However, there is an experience more awkward and confusing than going through a sexual education course, and that’s realizing that the class, unit, or lack thereof, wasn't very informative and didn’t cover everything a developing teen needs to know. A more inclusive and informative option exists that opposes the abstinence-only programs that keep teens in the dark. This program educates teens on healthy choices and fully informs them of how their bodies work along with teaching other needed insights into sexual education that’s missing from schools: the comprehensive approach. Comprehensive sexual education, with encouraged abstinence, is the most beneficial method of keeping teenagers physically and mentally healthy and prepared.

The comprehensive approach to sexual education has been proven to prevent more STDs, STIs, and pregnancy than an abstinence-only approach. It also warns teens of the emotional stresses that usually present themselves if they engage in sexual activity at a young age. Teens are becoming sexually active much early than ever before: “Sixty-six percent of American high school students have had sex by their senior year” (Masland). This early sexual activity is usually not protected or healthy because these kids have not been taught all the health risks and how to avoid them. Schools should guide teens to become “well educated [so they] can help youths avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases” (Elia). Proper sexual education is the only way to help teens learn how everything works and to prevent bad sexual experiences at young ages. Until proper sexual education is administered to public schools the number of teenage pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and infections will continue to rise.

Comprehensive sexual education not only helps to prevent unwanted diseases and pregnancy but also promotes healthy relationships, waiting until you’re ready, and educates students about sexual harassment and rape. Lot’s of teens are in committed relationships during high school and even middle school, but many aren't familiar with relationship “norms.” They don't know what is acceptable and what’s not. Comprehensive sexual education helps clarify where the line should be drawn so that teens do not feel obligated to be involved in something they don’t feel comfortable doing, just because they think it’s “normal” (Elia). This is yet another example of how comprehensive sexual education would benefit teens. Education would help relationships be healthier even to the point of discouraging rape and harassment. Introducing teens to different examples and circumstances of when they may be at risk will prepare teens on how to avoid coercion: “approximately eighty-five percent of rapes are committed by dates or acquaintances” (Elia). Comprehensive sexual education would explain exactly what sexual harassment and rape are so that teens would be able to recognize unacceptable behavior in friends or partners, and would provide resources and contacts for victims to get help. Despite evidence from several studies supporting comprehensive education, many states have failed to put it into effect.

Sexual education isn't even required in all states; only twenty-four states (and the District of Columbia) mandate that schools have some form of sexual education. Of those states, most don't require the information being taught to be medically accurate or unbiased (Guttmacher Institute). Lack of some form of sexual education when young can cause young adults to be extremely confused on what is expected and what is healthy and safe. The sooner sex education starts the better; some say “even as early as elementary school” (Center for AIDS Prevention Studies). Age appropriate sex education is a major part of the comprehensive approach. Destroying the stigma around being open about sex and sexual health should start young by explaining to children “examples of positive and harmful practices that affect health and well-being in society” (Gordon) and that “Sexual abuse is always wrong” (Gordon). If children are exposed to these ideas at a younger age they will be more likely to understand when they are older. Waiting until middle school or high school to suddenly dump all the information about sex and sexual health is overwhelming to teens. Not all the information will be taken in and actually applied the way educators would like.

Abstinence-only advocates claim “explicit sex education does more to entice that educate” (Anderson) but, it’s been proven that this is untrue. In fact, “nearly half the comprehensive programs that have been studied reduced sexual risk in three areas: delaying the age at which teens first have sex, reducing the number of sexual partners they have and increasing their use of condoms” (Sullivan). Comprehensive sexual education actually works for the same outcome as abstinence-only education. The difference is that the comprehensive approach “teaches students how to have sex responsibly” (Elia). If teens know the risks associated with early sexual activity then they are more likely to abstain, whereas if the only thing they are told is ‘just don't do it’, they are more likely to ignore that request and engage in sexual activity without knowledge of possible health and emotional risks. Accordingly, “the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy ‘found no credible studies of abstinence-only programs showing any significant impact on participants’ initiation of or frequency of sex’” (Goff). Abstinence-only programs do not provide the same benefit as comprehensive programs do for teens. Abstinence-only approaches to sexual education are negative and threatening, they do not appeal to the needs of developing teenagers that need to learn about their own bodies.

There are several examples of successful implementation of comprehensive sexual education, including in Canada, England, France, the Netherlands, and Sweden. Sexual education in these countries “is based on the following components: a policy explicitly favoring sex education; openness about sex; consistent messages throughout society; and access to contraception” (Center for AIDS Prevention Studies). Through openness and unbiased education, these countries have been able to lower teenage pregnancy rates and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. If implementing comprehensive sexual education in America would yield the same results, many would agree that it’s worth the effort to put it into effect.

Since there are so many successful cases of a comprehensive approach resulting similarly to the intended outcome of abstinence-only programs, it is reasonable to conclude that comprehensive sexual education is indeed the best option to keep teens mentally and physically healthy. Comprehensive sexual education reduces the number of teenage pregnancies and development of STDs, encourages healthy relationships, educates teens about sexual harassment and rape, and starts sex education young to ensure complete understanding of the material. Most teens will agree that sexual education is awkward, but it doesn’t have to be. Comprehensive sexual education will best benefit our society as a whole, everyone deserves to know their own body and not be afraid of it.

Works Cited

The Abstinence Clearinghouse. "Most Parents Advocate Abstinence Education for Their Children." 2004. Sex Education​​. Detroit: Greenhaven, 2005. 41-44. Print. At Issue.

Anderson, Kerby. "Comprehensive Sex Education Does Not Work." 2003. ​Sex Education​. Detroit: Greenhaven, 2005. 59-66. Print. At Issue.

Center for AIDS Prevention Studies. "Sex Education Has Failed." ​Sex Education​. Detroit: Greenhaven, 2005. 15-19. Print. At Issue.

Elia, John P. "Comprehensive Sex Education Is the Most Effective Way to Protect Teen  Health." 2000. ​Sex Education​. Detroit: Greenhaven, 2005. 49-58. Print. At Issue.

Goff, Sarah. "Advocates of Abstinence Education Are Hypocrites." 2004. ​Sex Education​. Detroit: Greenhaven, 2005. 45-48. Print. At Issue.

Gordon, Peter. ​Sexuality Education and the Prevention of Sexual Violence​. Rep. N.p.: n.p., n.d. ​Sexuality Education and the Prevention of Sexual Violence​. Web. 4 Apr. 2016. (http://www.coe.int/t/dg3/children/1in5/Source/PublicationSexualViolence/Gordon.pdf).

Guttmacher Institute. Rep. State Policies in Brief. ​Sex and HIV Education​. 1 Mar. 2016. Web. 9 Apr. 2016. (https://www.guttmacher.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/spibs/spib_SE.pdf)

Masland, Molly. "The Sex Education Debate: An Overview." 2003. ​Sex Education​. Detroit: Greenhaven, 2005. 10-14. Print. At Issue.

Sullivan, Amy. "How to End The War Over Sex Ed." Time​.​ 30 Mar. 2009: 40.TOPICsearch [EBSCO]​. Web. 4 Apr. 2016. (http://eds.a.ebscohost.com/eds/detail/detail?sid=2b352e0d-79b5-40e1-a728-fcde21ddd1dc%40sessionmgr4003&vid=0&hid=4103&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU%3d&preview=false#AN=37039997&db=tth)


Notes from the Directors

In Persuasive Research essays, writers have the freedom to draw from a wide variety of subjects, approaches, and disciplines. Persuasive Essays are meant to persuade the reader to think or act in a particular way in regards to the topic, typically through appeals to logic (by means of evidence such as facts and statistics), as well as appeals to emotions or values, and by establishing the credibility of the speaker and the multiple sources he or she uses. While persuasive essays adopt a stand, the most successful essays take multiple viewpoints into consideration, even if opposing viewpoints are ultimately rejected. Persuasive Research Essays may target wide audiences and be created for various purposes, but the most successful essays often have a strong sense of who the audience is and what appeals that audience will find convincing or informative. Writers should also consider the timeliness of their pieces. In addition, the most successful essays establish the writer’s credibility and knowledge about the subject. They also show strategic use of evidence, logical reasoning, critical thinking skills, and the ability to effectively integrate and fully cite outside sources.

The essays included here display unique approaches to their subject matter, while also demonstrating research and critical argumentation skills of their authors. These essays approach complicated issues clearly without being reductive, and give new insights to problems that face the world today.

In the first essay, “Comprehensive Sexual Education,” Shannon Symons addresses the need for improvement of sex ed classes in the United States. Symons synthesizes her sources to offer the reader logical reasons for switching to non-abstinence only classes, and she also offers rational rebuttals to potential counterarguments. Symons takes on the issue from multiple positions, including physical health, mental health, and safety, demonstrating her ability to argue a point using multiple pieces of information.

In “Environmental Impacts of Fracking,” Anastasia Johnson offers a nuanced discussion of fracking’s repercussions. Johnson considers both the positives and negatives of fracking to provide a well-rounded argument. Rather than arguing for one side or the other, Johnson approaches the issue from a common ground approach, pushing for environmental safeguards for fracking while also acknowledging fracking’s economic benefits.

Each essay approaches its subject matter and research process differently. They are both effective for their particular purpose, genre, and audience. These essays represent different possibilities for persuasive research writing across, but both do so through well-integrated sources and organizational strategies that work to keep the audience both informed and engaged.