The best persuasive speeches take a stance on a controversial or unusual issue. Water is a basic building block of human life, fueling our bodies, growing our crops and cleaning our cities. But the earth's water supply is increasingly overtaxed by human use and choked with pollution. The agreement that our planet has a water problem and the widely diverging opinions on what to do about it make water a topic with plenty of potential for persuasive speeches.
A persistent headline grabber around the world, water shortages due to drought, overuse or a combination of the two are both devastating and common. Since more than a billion people around the world lack reliable access to clean, safe water, water shortages offer several compelling speech topics. The need to reduce water consumption through more efficient infrastructure could make a persuasive speech topic, especially in drought-stricken regions where conservation is particularly relevant. For a more controversial spin, you could argue that the droughts causing water shortfalls are the product of climate change and call on audiences to reduce their carbon footprints.
While it would be hard to argue that water pollution is good, you could argue for any of several approaches to handling water pollution. For example, you could write a speech arguing in favor of green rooftops and green streets, techniques the cities of Chicago and Portland have adopted to combat water contamination. Alternatively, you might speak in favor of foreign aid programs to help developing countries police polluters. In developing countries as a group, 70 percent of all industrial waste ends up in the water supply without being treated, according to National Geographic.
Privatization of Water Supplies
Historically, most countries have operated their water distribution systems as government-owned utilities, but a movement attempting to privatize water systems is creating controversy. Some organizations, such as the World Bank Group, view privatization as essential for growth. High-scoring persuasive speeches might take a stance for or against privatization. Proponents of privatization argue profit motives will inspire companies to expand their facilities, bringing clean water to more people, more efficiently. Opponents say privatization will just hand power over a life-sustaining resource to the world's wealthiest companies. A speech on either side of the controversy could make compelling points.
New technologies for cleaning water or harnessing its power also provide opportunities for persuasive speech topics. For instance, you might argue that governments should invest more in water desalination research. Desalination, the process of removing salt and other contaminates from ocean water or brackish water, could provide a nearly limitless supply of potable water, but is extremely expensive. Other researchers are studying how water might be used as a fuel source to power cars or even rocket engines. A persuasive speech could discuss the need to invest in these technologies, or the reasons these technologies might cause unforeseen consequences.
About the Author
Nick Robinson is a writer, instructor and graduate student. Before deciding to pursue an advanced degree, he worked as a teacher and administrator at three different colleges and universities, and as an education coach for Inside Track. Most of Robinson's writing centers on education and travel.