The main argument of Larson’s papers is that the current metaphors used when describing invasive species are actually hindering conservation goals. The militaristic pattern of thinking utilized by many authors is inaccurate and ultimately portrays invasive species in a light that causes confusion and misunderstanding amongst the majority of the population, as well as environmentalists. Some of the examples proposed by Larson of how militaristic analogies harm conservation include that the idea of waging war against a species requires us pitting ourselves against the species and favoring biological solutions as well as that these analogies create false ideals that we can complete eliminate invasive species as triumph over their “evil.” Larson proposes the adoption of alternative metaphors and analogies that actually consider the relationship between people and the environment. One example given is describing invasive species as a “disease” that is harming our quality of life.
An example of the military language Larson is arguing against comes from a NASA article that discusses the proliferation of the water hyacinth throughout Africa. When discussing the invasive nature and attributes of the plant, the article stated that, “water hyacinth…is amongst the world’s most noxious invaders…Water hyacinth can also sap oxygen from the water until it creates a ‘dead zone’ where plants and animals can no longer survive. Typically, only aggressive measures can control the fast-growing plant” (Przyborski and Remer 2009).
While I completely support Larson’s attempt to analyze literature about invasive species in order to increase the efficacy of how writing encourages conservation efforts, I do not agree with his conclusions. First of all, I feel that Larson makes statements without clarifying their meaning or supporting them with details. He merely states that militaristic metaphors contain inaccuracies, which confuse the public but gives no explanation of this trend. I personally do not feel confused when reading invasive species articles with militaristic tones. Additionally, I agree with Larson that militaristic metaphors create two opposing sides (the species and humanity), but this is true of any argument; there are always two sides. This fact is not limited to language discussing invasive species. One of the most confusing parts of Larson’s argument is when he states that removing invasive species tends to benefit the upper-middle classes rather than poor people. I do not understand this conclusion at all, and I feel that it makes his argument confusing and unclear. My final opposition to Larson’s article is that he centers many of his arguments on comparing the environment to social and political situations. He compares invasive species issues to events like the September 11th terrorist attacks, and I just do not feel like these two fields are on the same level at all.
Przyborski, Paul and Remer, Lorraine. Water Hyacinth Re-invades Lake Victoria. http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=7426. Viewed 25 January 2010.