When describing invasive species, a militaristic language approach is often taken. A war is often waged on the invaders with hope of eradicating them before they overrun local ecosystems. Brendon Larson however, disagrees with this approach. He argues that if the words chosen to persuade people that invasive species require our attention are too strong, they can have the opposite effect on the reader (Larson 2005). Larson also states that when talking about invasive species, a “war” does not really exist because “good” and “evil” sides do not exist and humans have no hope of restoring ecosystems to their original state. Furthermore, he suggests that there are alternative metaphors that can describe the invasive species situation just as accurately without having to resort to militaristic terms (Larson 2005).
While inspecting my past blog posts, I realized that combative terminology is prevalent in many of them. For example, the title of one such blog post is “The Second Battle of New Orleans”, which is clearly an implication of a “war” (Wang 2011). The “second battle” is in fact not refering to a battle at all, but to the introduction of Formosian Subterranian Termites. The blog post later mentions topics for control and management, which are refered to as “eradication methods” and using chemicals to poison the termites (Wang 2011).
I do not agree with Larson’s view. Invasive species can have unforseeable impacts on both the ecology of the environment it invades as well as having disastrous consequences for the people in that region. The use of militaristic terms has always captured my attention when talking about invasive species. Strong language is necessary in invasive species ecology because it has a much better chance of getting noticed that way. The terminology may sometimes be a bit exagerated, but sometimes that is what is required for people to take invasive species seriously.
Larson, B.M.H. 2005. The war of roses: demilitarizing invasion biology. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 3: 495-500