In “The War of the Roses: Demilitarizing Invasion Biology,” Larson argues that using militaristic language when talking about invasive species is damaging. According to Larson, militaristic language, including the use of words such as “combat,” “war,” and “battle,” affects the image of aquatic invasive species management and can be counteractive in dealing with invasion problems. Larson believes that the metaphor for invasive species control as “war” oversimplifies the issue and fails to show the responsibility that humans have for the spread of invasive species. In addition, Larson argues that we can’t return ecosystems to their original states prior to invasion, so the idea that invasive species can be eradicated and the environment fully restored using a militaristic approach is simplistic and inaccurate.
The militaristic language that Larson discusses occurs frequently in Invasive Species research articles, news reports and other media. One example of the militaristic language comes from The Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources’ 2003 Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan. Within the editor’s note following a series of case studies the author states the following:
“Almost all fishpond sites in the State have relied heavily on community workdays and other modes of volunteerism to fight the battle with aquatic invasive species. At many of these sites, due to lack of resources, the community and the fishponds appear to be losing the battle.” (Shluker 2003)
In the quote above military terms including “fight” and “battle” clearly have an effect on the writing’s tone.
I agree with Larson that militaristic language does have an effect on how people perceive aquatic invasive species. I think this does the most damage in the larger population rather than in the scientific community. I know that I have personally taken on a militaristic viewpoint with regards to invasive species management after reading a number of research reports and news reports on the topic. Before taking this course I thought of invasive species as beautiful and complex, but now after being exposed to invasive species literature the topic seems more negative and harsh.
Larson, B.M.H. 2005. The war of the roses: demilitarizing invasion biology. Frontiers in Ecology and Environment 3: 495-500.