The context through which invasive species are described often relies on aggressive and militaristic figures of speech and expression. Larson disagrees with this particular writing style, arguing that the language alters the way that readers view the species discussed and how they react toward them. He finds that terms such as bombardment, detonation, enemy release and strategy make it seem like humans are rivals to the natural world (Larson 2005). He argues that hostile writing influences conceptions of scientific, nationalistic, and social objectivity. He even goes as far as to propose that discussing invasive species in this fashion makes certain people think of actions against exotic raiders as class-based or race-based. Larson promotes that instead we look at invasive species as some sort of disease that weaken an ecosystem’s health, like pathogens do unto the body. This metaphor emphasizes the detrimental affects of invasive species and subtly implies militarism since that is the way some diseases are combatted in the mind (Larson 2005).
In my SW3 blog post I found several examples of militaristic rhetoric. “The water hyacinth, an invasive aquatic plant indigenous to South America, continues to lay siege on Lake Victoria in Kenya.” As the paper continued I also included such expressions as termination, deployed, control agent, and war. Looking back on this post, I consider this style and wording convincing in addressing my point and I don’t think that it overemphasizes the perilousness or voracity of invasive species, specifically the water hyacinth.
While I understand Larson’s point of view and can appreciate his outlook pertaining to militaristic language and metaphor use, I do not particularly agree with him. He seems to be taking things a little too personally and his exaggerated attempts to connect society, nationalism, and politics to these militaristic metaphors fails to tickle my fancy. Invasive species generate disastrous effects on native ecosystems and economies and I find the use of warlike expressions quite fitting. They impart an appropriate amount of concern since invasive species do pose severe risks to our natural environments and are difficult to control. I am fond of his invasive species-disease analogy and would agree that this parallel is more appropriate and applicable to environmental interaction. Taking Larson’s advice and applying terms of passivity that promote “quality of life” doesn’t seem effective or wise because it downplays the major harm looming behind continued invasion. In this way, I think that the “boomerang effect” serves as an effective method of detailing the urgency with which we need to deal with exotic invaders. Persuasion of this sort bolsters more support from local community members. In sum, militaristic rhetoric serves as a practical technique for scientific writers to advocate action against invasive species by instilling feelings of environmental patriotism and acknowledging their threatening influences. It’s mode of encouragement and enlightenment seems beneficial in association with exotic invasions.
Larson, B.M.H. 2005. The war of roses: demilitarizing invasion biology. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 3: 495-500