Oct
13
Filed Under (SW7) by Bryan Lockwood on 13-10-2010

In Larson’s article, “The war of the roses: demilitarizing invasion biology,” he assesses the tendency of scientific literature to compare invasive species treatment and prevention to war against the invaders. The problems with this relation, he states, are that this belligerent terminology misleads people by causing them to think that eliminating the exotic species is the best solution. He argues that instead of focusing on the problem itself, we should take a look at what causes these invasions. Nearly all cases of invasive species are caused by humans. The war-like attitude toward invasive species can cause our society to misinterpret the problem of invasion biology, lose trust in the scientific community, and become caught up in the many non-political wars going on today (e.g. war on terror, drugs, etc.).

The militaristic tone of invasion biology exists not only in published scientific journals, but also in our very own aquatic invasive species blog. An article called “Unwelcome Guests: Termites invade New Orleans” by McGrath describes the harmful effects of the invasive termite on the citizens of New Orleans. In this work, he states: “Often, a pre-emptive strike is the best way to keep the invaders [termites] away” (McGrath 2010). In war, a pre-emptive strike is an unprovoked attack on the opposing forces, or in this case, the termites.

In my opinion, Larson correctly identifies the militaristic tone in invasion biology as a major problem. When dealing with invasive species, it is necessary to implement a wide range of prevention techniques. As forementioned, human transportation is the major cause of the introduction of invasive species to a new environment; it is only natural that the solution lies in making transportation safer for environments. Engaging in wars against populations of creatures will do nothing but cause fear in the hearts of the people, and during these tough economic and political times, that is the last thing Americans need. Waging a war against our own society, the true cause of biological invasion, would be far more effective than proclaiming battles against invasive species.

Larson, B. M. H. 2005. The war of the roses: demilitarizing invasion biology. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 3: 495-500

McGrath, J. 2010. Unwelcome Guests: Termites invade New Orleans. Aquatic Invasive Species WordPress Blog. http://sites.duke.edu/writing20_12_f2010/2010/09/09/unwelcome-guests-termites-invade-new-orleans/

Oct
13
Filed Under (SW7) by Haley Ishimatsu on 13-10-2010

In many reseach studies about invasive species, the authors use militaristic language to describe the problems that alien species have caused. However, Brendon Larson says that this approach is inadequate and inaccurate. In 2005, he argued his point by saying that militaristic statements lead to inaccurate perception of invasive species, contribute to misunderstanding and loss of credibility, and patterns of thought that are not productive for conservation. He stated that to be a war, there has to be two sides, one good and one evil(Larson, 2005). However, one side cannot be determined evil or good becasue many invasions were intentional and were facilitated by humans. Larson also suggested that the militaristic language is not representing the conservation efforts well and doen’t inform the public adequately about the solutions (Larson, 2005).

In my literature review, “The possible affects of bloody red shrimp in the Great Lakes”, I use militaristic language to describe how the problems of the invasion and how important it is to control the shrimp. I believe that this a very effective way to inform people of the problems and to get them to take action. This tactic is useful because it is designed to capture the public attention. Once the attention is on the issue of invasive species, planning can take place on how this problem can be controlled.

Oct
13
Filed Under (SW7) by Kyle Rand on 13-10-2010

In his article “The war of the roses: demilitarizing invasion biology,” Larson explains how human use of militaristic metaphors has misconstrued the ways humans view aquatic invasive species (2005).  Larson suggests that scientists have adopted a militaristic style and tone when describing invasive species, and calls for reform for conservationists to adjust the way they speak about the species.  He argues that the idea of war cannot be rightly applied to invasive species because a war entails two opposing sides, where good is supposed to triumph over evil.  However, Larson points out that the spread of invasive species is largely due to human interactions; consumption, trade, and release of these species across continents has caused geographical boundaries to be blurred.  This dependence of invasive species on humans shows that it is wrong to suggest that humans and invasive species are separate, opposing entities in this so-called “war.”  Secondly, Larson demonstrates that the idea of the good side, in this case humans, being triumphant is inaccurate.  Unfortunately, past case studies involving the eradication of invasive species shows that it will be a nearly impossible feat to reestablish pre-invasive conditions in most environments.  As Larson points out, “it will be practically and economically infeasible to prevent of contain many of [the invasive species]” (Larson 2005).

Looking back at our own writings, it is easy to see that Larson’s argument is very accurate.  In Stefan Cafaro’s post in September, a militaristic attitude is adopted right off the back: his post is titled “Great Lakes Under Seige” (Cafaro 2010).  He presents the spiny water flea as this militaristic powerhouse that “can cause colossal damage to its habitat” and “will slowly begin to unravel the fragile food web of the lakes” (Cafaro 2010).  He presents the ecosystem of the Great Lakes as this fragile, innocent entity that is under attack by this relentless spiny water flea.  These militaristic metaphors affect the readers subconscious by depicting the invasive species in an negative, almost evil, light.

Larson’s suggestion that militaristic imagery pervades scholarly writing on invasive species is completely correct.  They are problematic in that this rhetoric causes scientific writing to lose its objectivity, and therefore lose part of its reliability.  When scientists adopt a style that affects readers interpretations subliminally, the research itself loses its focus and its credibility.  Writing that uses these militaristic metaphors adopts a political undertone, and makes conservationists seem as if they have their own agenda.  Science is about presenting factual information that can be used to support a plan of action or a solution in the future.  When science loses its objectivity, the benefits of studies and findings of the research are affected negatively, because credibility is lost.  As Larson implores, scientists should use language that is “more consistent with conservation values” to maintain credibility (Larson 2005).

Cafaro, Stefan. 2010. Great Lakes Under Seige. http://sites.duke.edu/writing20_12_f2010/2010/09/23/great-lakes-under-seige/

Larson, B.M.H. 2005. The war of the roses:demilitarizing invasion biology.  Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 3: 495-500.

Oct
13
Filed Under (SW7) by Cecile Diaz on 13-10-2010

Larson confronted the issue of using militaristic language and metaphors in scientific articles about invasive species. Larson argues that although using militaristic metaphors may seem like a good way to raise awareness, both in a public way and in a scientific manner, it is actually counter-effective because it causes confusion about the problem and what we should do about it. Larson identifies three problems with using militaristic language: first, it causes people to consider invasive species inaccurately; second, the language creates “social misunderstanding, charges of xenophobia, and loss of scientific credibility; and third, the language is ineffective in the long-term for conservation because the species are consistently related to wars and fighting.

Looking back on previous WordPress posts by my classmates and myself, I came across a post of my own that had a militaristic term in the title: “El Nino vs Weevils: which is the conqueror of water hyacinth?” In incorporated the word “conqueror” because I wanted a strong word that would convey the idea of vanquishing the hated water hyacinth from Lake Victoria. However, upon reading Larson’s article, I found that this term is not only contextually incorrect, but actually detrimental the argument I based my opinions on. The water hyacinth isn’t an enemy that needs to be conquered, it’s just an invasive species that is extremely problematic and needs to be prevented. Acceptance of the issue is crucial so as to prevent issues like this in the future, and we need to accept that we might not be able to eradicate the water hyacinth from Lake Victoria. Larson would advise the public to understand that water hyacinth wouldn’t have entered Lake Victoria without human interference, and since we can’t look back on our mistakes, we just need to push forward and try and prevent further infestation.

The use of militaristic language is overall negative because it implies that there is a war, which requires two sides, and that we will eventually win because humans are the good forces and the invasive species are the bad forces. I agree with Larson when he says we are not fighting the species, we are just fighting what we ourselves created, which is never a winning situation. Additionally, when we relate invasive species to wars, this just dilutes the meaning of warfare and allows further abuse of the word and relative language. It’s unacceptable to compare invasive species to terrorist attacks, or overseas firefights, because ultimately methods can be implemented to reduce effects of invasive species, whereas wars and their consequences are permanent. Larson argues that instead of using militaristic language, which is in fact counterproductive, scientists should start creating alternate means of promoting conservation while still being firm. We should direct the meaning and understand of invasive species not towards opposition, but towards prevention and control.

References:

Larson, B.M.H. 2005. The war of the roses: demilitarizing invasion biology. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 3: 495-500.

Diaz, Cecile. 2010. El Nino vs Weevils: which is the conqueror of water hyacinth? http://sites.duke.edu/writing20_12_f2010/2010/09/13/analysis-of-fierce-debate-of-water-hyacinth-on-lake-victoria/

Photo taken from Geography: Staffordshire Learning Net

Oct
13

According to Larson (2005), the use of militaristic language in various articles concerning invasive species is quite counterproductive. Generally, most articles are written to inspire action by the public or anyone in a position to help the cause. While in the course of motivating people, many authors rely on militaristic diction to communicate urgency and importance regarding an invasive species. Larson (2005) warns that these attitudes may do more harm than help by perpetuating xenophobia, wrong perceptions of  what invasive species really are and the use of militaristic tactics of dealing with these species. In one example, he mentions the attitude of natives who feel that the “attacking” these invaders draws many parallels to the number of foreigners who have entered their respective countries. It seems ironic that people who have assimilated into other nations are would be so adamant about restricting that which is foreign.

I agree with Larson (2005) that the wrong ideas are presented about invasive species. It doesn’t make sense to basically “declare war” on a species that we brought here ourselves. In my own blog post, entitled, “Invaders of Lake Victoria, Uganda,” I used militaristic metaphors when referring to the interaction between hyacinth, the South American weevil, and Lake Victoria. One quote stood out in particular, ” Ogwang decided to import the weevil in hopes that it could quell the takeover of Lake Victoria.” I agree that the language I used in this sentence is very suggestive in promoting a message of war. This is a bit excessive considering that the whole mission in Lake Victoria was to simply get the water hyacinth under control as opposed to completely eradicating it. In the future, a modification of the diction used when referring to invasive species should be sufficient in preventing misconceptions of invasive species.

References:

Larson, Brendon M. H. “The war of the roses: demilitarizing invasion biology,” Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 2005; 3(9): 495–500

Oct
13
Filed Under (SW7) by Michael Di Nunzio on 13-10-2010

Michael Di Nunzio

10/12/2010

In “The war of the roses: demilitarizing invasion biology”, Brendon Larson adamantly denounces the use of militaristic language when discussing the effects of invasive species. Larson argues that words connotative of war and conflict, while effective at drawing attention to the problem of nonnative species, ultimately influences society to adopt a counterproductive pattern of thinking. First, Larson claims that language indicating a war between humans and invaders is misleading, as a war has two clearly defined sides. Because our existence is intertwined with that of the invaders, it is foolish to think that we can oppose these creatures completely. In his argument Larson also asserts that, in a war, either good or evil is expected to prevail.  As regards nonnative species, this is unrealistic as most of these invaders cannot be completely removed and their damage cannot be fully reversed. Larson’s article proceeds to describe the potentially adverse impact of these misunderstandings. It begins with describing the possibility that society will become desensitized to these words. This will presumably create problems of apathy when situations legitimately require chemical or biological warfare to eradicate an exotic species. Militaristic diction also detracts from scientific credibility, Larson explains, and can destroy one’s apparent impartiality. He subsequently warns that militaristic thinking may lead to more aggressive measures being taken against invaders than necessary, thereby hindering conservationist efforts. This, in turn, might alienate those with radical views and conservationists, creating disunity in attempts to control exotic species. To redress this war-centered mindset, Larson urges that humans begin to recognize their common ground with invasive species. He insists that the fundamental issues will remain until society adopts an outlook characterized by prevention and acceptance. Because mankind’s actions foster the spread of this species, Larson asserts that humans must first acknowledge themselves as part of the problem before labeling exotic species as the enemy (Larson 2005).

The prevalence of militaristic language is particularly evident in “Turning the Tide: The Eradication of Invasive Species”, in which the World Conservation Union (IUCN) describes the proceedings of its international conference on invaders of islands. War-like diction is immediately evident in the title, and the word “eradicate” appears again more than 300 times in the document. In one sentence, the IUCN describes its plan for handling invaders: “After prevention, the next priority is to eradicate existing invasive species, where this is possible” (IUCN 2004). Even the document’s acknowledgements are riddled with military verbiage, giving credit to “scientists who are at the forefront of the battle against alien invasive species” (IUCN 2004).  The Union also makes liberal use of the word “war,” claiming in one sentence “we are not doomed to the biotic homogenisation of the Earth, but we will surely lose this war if we do not aim high” (IUCN).

While it is clear that militaristic language has pervaded the scientific articles regarding invasive species, the use of this language does not constitute a problem. A dramatic choice of words lends urgency to a subject, and the topic of invasive species is a pressing issue that demands attention. If we forgo captivating words for bland descriptions the public is likely to overlook this important conflict. Additionally, Larson’s arguments seem very weakly supported throughout his article. He tends to exclude sufficient examples in support of his proposition or use examples that do not directly support his point. His conclusion that militaristic language should be substituted with metaphors of acceptance should be seriously reconsidered.

References:

Larson, B.M.H. 2005. The war of the roses: demilitarizing invasion biology. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 3: 495-500.

Veitch, C.R. and M.N. Clout, Editors. 2004. Turning the Tide: The Eradication of Invasive Species. The World Conservation Union (IUCN): 1-422.

Oct
13

Larson (2005) argues that the choice in diction of the authors who write about invasive species is overly combattive and militarisitc.  The way that some writers speak of aquatic invasive species as if they are our enemies of war seems to mischaracterize and mislead the general public of the situation at hand.  If anything, the militaristic language seems to make the situation something that we must quickly take action about, then enthusiasm for the cause is quickly lost.  But truly solving problems and getting “rid” of invasive species takes much more time commitment and tending over time.  Also, making aquatics seem like our enemies doesn’t exactly make the most sense, since the reason for their invasion in the first place is actually a result of human mistakes!  On top of all of this, speaking of the situation with invasive species as a battle seems to implicate that they can be eradicated and then after they are gone, the habitat can simply go back to the way it was before, but this is unfortunately not the case.  Larson (2005) ultimately suggests that we change our vocabulary, and instead try to take a more reasonable approach to managing the invasive species by giving them a proper amount of time to turn around the situation, and also using a multicultural models to restore the habitats.

An example of where this “militaristic language” that Larson (2005) speaks of can be found in the article, “California Officials Tackle a Toothy Lake Predator.”  The article uses combative language in two spots. “For the last decade, the state of California has waged a Sisyphean battle against the northern pike, a fish and a voracious eating machine” (McKinley 2007).  Also, “The lake was closed after Labor Day to prepare for the watery assault. The plan is simple: poison the fish with 17,000 gallons of rotenone, a commonly used pesticide that is absorbed through the gills and blocks the ability to process oxygen” (McKinley 2007).  This article basically outlines the myriad of ways in which the pike has wreaked havoc in California, and all the time and money spent trying to fix the problem without success.  Then the articles goes on to talk about how the state has come up with a new plan to dispose of the pike – poisoning them.  The language in this article leads us to believe that the northern pike is something that must be eradicated quickly, flushed out of the ecosystem, and then California will simply be able to move along, but this simply can’t be the case.  Every invasive species leaves its mark upon the ecosystem that it dwells in, and so do the control methods used to try and control them, such as the poison being dumped in the lake.

I think that Larson’s argument is a valid one, because the militaristic language does seem to convey the reality we face with aquatic invasive species in the wrong way.  Though they are a huge problem, the language used to describe them paints the wrong picture.  They are not in fact alien invaders who appeared in the United States to mess up our ecosystems and crowd out our native species.  In fact, they were introduced by us, and we are to blame for all these problems.  It’s not as if it would be the first time we shirked in our duty to protect and own up to our mistakes in taking care of the environment, but given how much destruction and biodiversity loss that these invasive species are causing, this is definitely an issue we should deal with in a realistic and honest way.  By using language that suggests war with these species, we make it seem as if they should simply be quickly eradicated, but in fact, it would be best if we took a step back, created a longer term plan for their removal, and wrote about them as works in progress and the threats that they are, not alien enemies.

References:

Larson, B. M. H. 2005.  The war of the roses:  demilitarizing invasion biology.  Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 3:  495-500.

McKinley, J. 12 September 2007. ” California Officials Tackle a Toothy Lake Predator.”  The New York Times.  <http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/12/us/12pike.html?_r=1&ref=invasive_species>. Accessed October 12 2010.

Photo is from the New York Times article.

Oct
12
Filed Under (SW7) by Natalie Ferguson on 12-10-2010

The original intent of describing the controlling of  invasive species in militaristic terms was to inspire action to help the problem. According to Brendon MH Larson, however, it has done nearly the opposite. In the article, “The War of the Roses: Demilitarizing Invasion Biology,” Larson claims that despite the short term attention drawn from words such as combat or eradicate, the long term effects prove to be insufficient.  In one instance, Larson cites the “‘boomerang’ effect, whereby ‘extremely intense language or images used for purpose of persuasion can have an opposite effect on the receiver,” as studied by Mio (1997). Despite Larson’s coherent argument, the warlike approach builds up an idea in the audience’s minds that invasive species are the enemies. In the end, creating a negative attitude against them may ultimately drive future decisions against them when given the opportunity.

One instance of the effectiveness of the combative approach is seen in Rejmanek et al. in 2002. The belligerentword, “eradication” is clearly labeled in the title, and 51 other times throughout the article. Other militaristic words such as “strategy” and “target” are coupled with “eradication” to describe the efforts against invasive species. The article itself argues that the “eradication” of a particularly invasive weed is feasible with possible biocontrol methods. Larson argues that the militaristic language is “misleading” because it assumes “we can pit ourselves against invasive species.” As seen in the case of Rejmanek et al., we can in fact successfully rid an area of an invasive species, thus proving Larson wrong.

Larson, B. M. H. 2005. The war of the roses: demilitarizing invasion biology. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 3: 495-500.

Rejmanek, M., M. J. Pitcairn. 2002. When is eradication of exotic pest plants a realistic goal?  In Veitch, C. R. and Clout, M. N. (eds.). Turning the tide: the eradication of invasive species. IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group: 249-253

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Oct
12

In Larson’s article, The War of the Roses: Demilitarizing Invasion Biology, Larson firmly opposes the militaristic rhetoric that saturates current literature regarding invasive species.  Metaphors referring to invasive species as “enemies” that must be “destroyed, battled, and fought”, says Larson, can detract from the author’s goal; He believes writing in such extremes inevitably results in inadequate or inaccurate descriptions, and can make the reader less affected or moved by the text. Thinking in a militaristic way, says Larson, detracts from the the ultimate goal of solving the species imbalance and creating a synergistic relationship between all the present species. It is not a good approach, therefore, to set human beings against nonnative species as if human beings will eventually be the savior, for two reasons; according to Larson, human activity is often the means by which invasive species are spread to begin with, and additionally, attempting to restore a habitat to its original collection of species, and in the original balanced ratios, is a futile exercise.  Instead of discussing how to remove invaders, the rhetoric we use should center around preventing further spread of invasive species.  Larson suggests comparing invaders to pathogens and diseases in the body, because the human tendency to sympathize with the notion of a healthy ecosystem would be more effective than the militaristic description.  Finally, he suggests that humans absorb the notion that they are to blame for the transportation of invasive species and must assume responsibility for them, rather than view them as aliens and separate entities.

In my own blog about the invasive species, the Rusty Crayfish, I myself use militaristic language, in the following passage:

“The Rusty Crayfish is on it way to destroying many stream and lake ecosystems and has induced a number of ecological problems due to its aggressive usurpation of non-native habitats… The anglers who enjoy fishing as a recreational activity seem unaware that the non-native species they continue to introduce to new environments is destroying the diversity in the marine beds, making food acquisition difficult, reducing nesting areas and erosion control, and eliminating many fish populations.” (Majumdar, See Blog Reference Below)

In this small paragraph, I depict a crayfish as a destructive force, with vocabulary including “aggressive” and “usurpation”. While the statements are not untrue by any means, my argument is weakened, and appears dramatized, by the idea of a river creature “usurping” anything.  The gravity of my argument is diminished by this exagerrated rhetoric, and therefore I do agree with Larson, to an extent, because he makes valid points outlined in the first paragraph.  I do believe, however, that criticizing this kind of militaristic language gives the rhetoric too much importance since these terms are often used this way in all kinds of literature, and militaristic talk has also become accepted colloquially. This means the severity behind the terms has diminished and the “fight” against invaders no longer means that scientists are proposing for environmentalists to venture out to the aquatic environments and literally fight off anything. Thus, Larson makes valid points and the rhetoric in many invasive species papers could be improved to strengthen the arguments, because dramatizing the situation can become ineffective, even when the content is significant or possibly alarming, but Larson also takes the rhetoric too literally.
Reference:

https://sites.duke.edu/writing20_12_f2010/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=255

Oct
12
Filed Under (SW7) by Drew Van Orden on 12-10-2010

In the “The War of the Roses: Demilitarizing Invasion Biology” paper, Larson argues that using militaristic language is not an effective way to write about invasive species. One way he thinks the use of this jargon is a poor way to write about alien species is because it creates an opening for debate as to whether or not we need to change the way we are trying to maintain native ecosystems. Making invasive species the clear “enemy” also causes points of inaccuracies. Although Larson does accept that the use of militaristic language captures readers attention, he says that in the end the overuse of this type of language is ineffective.

One example of militaristic rhetoric being used in an invasive species article is found in an article titled “Knee Deep Club declares war on invasive plant”, by John Luciano. Although the article is about a group of concerned citizens striving to keep the Water Chestnut plant off of their land, the language used makes it sound much more intense. One of the clubs members, Tim Clancy, was quoted saying “I want everyone to know that this menace is not in Lake Hopatcong yet, but it is a real threat”. This type of language and rhetoric is what Larson thinks articles would be better off without.

Personally, I like militaristic language being used in articles such as these. I feel like it grabs the publics attention and shows them that these somewhat unknown issues are very serious and require prompt and drastic measures to be taken Although I can see where Larson is coming from, I think that metaphorically connecting war to invasive species is an effective way of shedding light on the issues at hand.

Larson, B. M. H. 2005. The war of the roses: demilitarizing invasion biology. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 3: 495-500

Luciano, John. “Knee Deep Club declares war on invasive plant – NorthJersey.com.”NorthJersey.com. 12 Oct. 2010. <http://www.northjersey.com/recreation/94557669_Knee_Deep_Club_declares_war_on_invasive_plant.html>.