Rhetorical scholarship and cultural commentary have demonstrated that environmentalist voices are consistently associated with apocalyptic rhetoric. However, this association deflects attention from the apocalyptic rhetoric that comes from industry and countermovements to environmentalism. This essay seeks to remedy that oversight by proposing the concept of “industrial apocalyptic” as a significant rhetorical form in environmental controversy. Based on analysis of the rhetoric of the U.S. coal industry, we find that these industrial apocalyptic narratives rely on a burlesque frame to disrupt the categories of establishment and outsider and thus thwart environmental regulation. Ultimately, we argue that industrial apocalyptic co-opts environmentalist appeals for radical change in the service of blocking such change and naturalizes neoliberal ideology as the commonsense discourse of the center.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.