Breath of Clarity

Comment #1: Persuasion and Treatment Wetlands

Original Post by Colleen Monahan:

As managers and/or policy makers you will have to know how to use the powers of persuasion as well as the science. Pick one of these websites or find one you like better and discuss what you like about their suggestions on how to make a persuasive argument. (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)

The first thing that caught my attention from the APA website is that it recognized that people will do the opposite of what they are told to do. While this may be childish and immature, it is true as even I have done this before in much smaller scenarios. However, by showing that most people are doing the action, it doesn’t create that urgent sense that people seem to back away from. This approach is one that I agree with as it focuses more on the positive and the potential than the negative and depressing. Another reason I think this approach should be utilized more is because of the varying opinions in today’s society. As we have seen with the coronavirus pandemic, some believe it’s a hoax while others believe it’s real. The same can be said for opinions concerning global climate change. By showing messages that focus more on what you can do that others are already doing instead of by saying “you have to do this or else” you eliminate the opposing opinions and create more of a social message than action message (if that makes sense). The example of encouraging hotel guests to reuse their towels is a great description of how normative messages work better than targeted messages (Tracey 2005).

However, sometimes saying “don’t do this” does work better than trying elaborate. Essentially, less is more in certain scenarios. Instead of saying this whole big reason why you shouldn’t do something, just saying something short and quick like “Do not veer off the path to protect our trees” works better. Honestly, I learned this quickly working as a PAC cast member at the Magic Kingdom. When working fireworks on any night but especially the super buys ones, saying general phrases like “follow the red light wands for fireworks viewing” is so much better than trying to say anything longer than that. In this case, I’m trying to reach as many people as possible at one time but it really showed how most people went with the flow of what others were doing and what they were told. You still had those people who complained and made the night hard but sadly you’ll always have those people. Most will follow what they are told to do which is why I like this site’s suggestions the most. Keeping things short and sweet but also positive and “normal” will make for a more successful message than saying something long that sounds depressing.

Design & construct a treatment wetland using information from the textbook. The class has to guess what type of wetland you constructed – a treatment wetland that is natural wetland, or the constructed wetlands .. surface, or subsurface.

I’ve talked a lot about floods throughout this quarter and how wetlands are great at helping reduce the impact of floods and the runoff associated with it. The treatment wetland I am designing is directed at helping reduce flood runoff during high rain events. In order to best reach this goal, I will need a large enough area where I can plant the appropriate vegetation which includes cattails, white water lilies, and different sedges. The vegetation will not only help reduce flood damage and runoff control but the water lilies have a beautiful aesthetic to them as well. This wetland type will also require some man-made features to help with the runoff control. I will utilize trees and other flowers/shrubs that can not only help maintain water flow and withstand both flooded and dry conditions but are also aesthetically pleasing to look at. This should help me attract more of a positive response from others.

The main feature of this wetland would be a large pond in the center where I would use hard surfaces including rocks to help with water flow. Outside of this would be mixed pond and marsh areas with the listed features. Together, this setup will help reduce flooding and runoff while also filtering any chemical runoff. Other features I would include are elevated walkways to allow people to observe without disturbing the wetlands as well as educational tidbits along the trails for people to look at and enjoy as well as learn. This wetland would allow me to provide a beautiful place not just for people to visit if they choose but also small habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife.

You have been put in charge of restoring the wetland you described in your first assignment. Using the information on pages 623-639 in the textbook discuss how you would restore the hydrology or improve it and at least 1 other method you would use to restore your wetland.

Florida is known for a few things one of which is our storms. It doesn’t take a hurricane to flood neighborhoods and wetlands in Florida, just our normal storms that we get during the summer period. Looking at maps of the Tibet-Butler Preserve you can see lots of lakes and smaller water sources in the vicinity (see figure 1). I also know that there are lots of housing developments in the area as well. Though I’ve not personally seen this area after a storm, I can imagine based from what I see in my area how bad the flooding potential is for this area, especially given the development nearby. This preserve is a mix of different wetland types but primarily sawgrass marsh. This part of the preserve is similar to the Florida Everglades and one thing they are doing to assist with flooding and water quality is the development of flow equalization basins (FEB). FEBs are constructed stormwater storage features such as shallow reservoirs that allow people to control water flow from FEBs to stormwater treatment areas (STA) (South Florida Water Management District n.d.). Though the Everglades are larger than Tibet-Butler, I think this would be a smart way to help not just control flooding but also improve water quality since this offers a control aspect which would be beneficial to the whole area. Personally, I would construct an FEB or at least something similar in a location of the preserve near one of the “edges” as this would allow for water collection during storms instead of flooding the nearby developments.

Another benefit to incorporating a stormwater basin or FEB is that it also helps with chemical balance in the wetlands. This is why the Everglades are using both FEBs and STAs for their water quality improvement as well as for flooding control. However, the Tibet-Butler Preserve is a lot smaller than the Everglades. I do not recommend using both for this preserve. Instead, I would include management and control over the plants and vegetation on the preserve. They play an important role in water quality as well as wildlife habitat. Maintaining the health of those plants and even planting new ones when necessary (especially if a particular strong storm damaged any large trees) is the best choice as it complements the natural vegetation best. This includes the Spanish Moss which is popularly thought of to be bad for the trees. It is in fact beneficial to trees as well as birds and other animals as it’s used for building nests and providing protection (University of Florida n.d.). This practice essentially blends horticulture with natural succession (Mitsch and Gosselink 2015, 633). For the most part, this preserve is well preserved but maintenance will ultimately help it be the most successful and allow it to survive longer.


Mitsch, William J., and James G. Gosselink. 2015. Wetlands: Fifth Edition. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons, Inc.

South Florida Water Management District. n.d. “Restoration Strategies for Clean Water for the Everglades” Accessed August 10, 2021. (Links to an external site.).

Tracey, Melissa Dittman. 2005. “Crafting persuasive pro-environment messages” October 2005. Crafting persuasive pro-environment messages ( (Links to an external site.).

University of Florida. n.d. “Spanish Moss” Accessed August 10, 2021.

My Comment:

Hi Colleen (Question 1),

Great way of explaining the APA’s article in that people are seeking actions that bring a sense of belonging to a group. It is interesting to think of it as that people will pull away automatically if they do not see any opportunity to fit into a majority group. Perhaps, a majority group brings security and that leads to individuals choosing to join it. The key challenge I see here is portraying that the majority is being environmentally friendly in cases it is not yet reality that it is the actual majority. Maybe, a way getting around that is focusing on uniting together people in one community at a time as opposed to spreading outreach efforts out thin. Awesome job of highlighting the importance of focusing on global climate change actions that folks are already taking as opposed to emphasizing all the outstanding issues. Momentum builds more so from existing successes than from dissatisfaction without some sort of specific event that could ignite a change of ways. I am glad the article brought up the importance of not targeting people as it puts the receiver of the target on the defensive and sets the stage for argument as opposed to unifying. I would apply the “less is more” suggestion to the same approach you discussed in the first paragraph. It is crucial to make environmental persuasion both positive and concise. It is possible to keep it concise without making it be a negative directive that is a targeted message. Environmental managers must keep in mind that people do not take much time to read regulations or anything nowadays. So, the simpler, the better.

Comment by Professor Flanagan:

Hi Colleen and Mary,

RE: Q1 – I started teaching Climate Change about the same time the movie An Inconvenient Truth (The Al Gore Documentary) came out and I saw a dramatic switch in thinking after that movie. I think it visually showed people what was meant by climate change, global warming, and disappearing glaciers. All of a sudden so many people understood, but not to say there were many who still did not believe it was real. Now we are living much of the predicted climate change scenarios. Do you think visual messages with good data can be persuasive?

Comment by Colleen Monahan:

Hi Professor!

I do believe that visual messages with good data are great, however, it only works when people read and accept that data. Like you mentioned, even though the documentary seemed to help with people understanding what was going on, we still have a lot of people who don’t believe in it. That being said, I will always agree that having solid data to help back up information is a strong way to go and something I actually would love to see more often, to be honest. So yes, those messages can be persuasive but only for those willing to read/watch and accept the data or at least acknowledge the data.

Comment by Kathryn Flanagan:

You are right, Colleen. The new IPCC Report came out and I bet none of the climate change deniers will read it. This reminds me of the Green New Deal that is much discussed and never read. It is all of 14 pages long and a 5 minute read.


My Comment:

Hi Colleen (Question 2),

My guess is that you’re post described constructing a surface wetland. Since it focuses on reducing runoff and involves additional planting, I know it is not a subsurface wetland. The wetland type also requires unnatural man-made mechanisms to reduce the flood runoff. Great point that using eye-catching plant species will help draw attention and support to the wetland.

Reply by Colleen:

Hi Mary!

That’s correct! I was focusing on constructing an urban wetland as best as I could given the limitation it has as well. Granted, the overall goal would be to acquire enough land space to construct a big enough wetland to capture as much runoff as possible. That’s why I added in planting eye catching plants since that would help me have slightly less opposition as I could potentially market it as building a park near a city for city goers, etc. It may not be the tightest argument as of right now but it would at least be a start to a project like this.