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
Filed Under (SW7) by Michael Shaughnessy on 12-10-2010

Larson (2005) suggests that perhaps the militaristic metaphors used to describe invasive species are ineffective.   Also, that they may even be detrimental to the objectives sought after by biologists who utilize the metaphors.  He argues that this is because a war requires two opposing sides yet we are the ones who are helping these species invade.  Further, this is because a war is thought of as good triumphing over evil, and in this case the invasive species will always win and there is no way to completely conquer them.  Therefore, the readers of this particular type of literature may end up more confused about the problems at hand and the objectives will be lost.

In an article that summarizes biotic invasions and how to control them, Mack et al. (2000) claim, “Control of biotic invasions is most effective when it employs a long-term, ecosystem- wide strategy rather than a tactical approach focused on battling individual invaders.”  Mack et al. use the militaristic terms “tactical” and “battling” when describing a process that is failing.  They argue that “battling” each invader by itself is ineffective while a different method that takes everything into account all at the same time is more effective.  In this case, they use militaristic metaphors successfully but it is only in describing a failing process.

I agree both with Mack et al. (2000) and Larson (2005).  I agree with the point made by Mack et al. (2000) in which they claim that battling invaders is an ineffective process.  Therefore, I agree with Larson (2005) that militaristic metaphors should not be used because it is a losing battle and they will not work to convince readers or to unify conservationists in “combatting” invasive species.  Rather, controlling strategies should be used and written about.  Methods in which we do not battle with and fight with invasive species, but try to prevent them from spreading or multiplying.

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

Mack, Richard N., Simberloff, Daniel, Lonsdale, W. Mark, Evans, Harry, Clout, Michael, and Bazzaz, Fakhri A. 200. Biotic Invasions: Causes, Epidemiology, Global Consequences, and Control. Ecological Applications 10: 689-710.

Oct
12
Filed Under (SW7) by Brandon Braxton on 12-10-2010

Militaristic language relates certain problems using war terms. In this case, the problem of invasive species. Although this approach has been effective in opening peoples eyes on the issues happening in the natural world that is the extent of it’s positivity. Larson’s disagrees with the use of militaristic writing because it clouds alternative ideas and wages a false war against something that can’t fight back. Ultimately they are where they are because of us. Invasive species are not enemies; rather they are a problem that needs a solution. However, it is an unreachable goal to be able to find a solution to all of them and the fear that is generated through these militaristic words could cause us to act without thinking and push efforts backwards instead. Also, the “war” efforts are so directed to the environment people might be forgotten and their say not as important which poses a problem. Focusing on alternatives, conservation, and acceptance would be a better solution. The use of militaristic language can still be used but not to imply immediate destructive action but to inform and to relate.
This example is from an article I used for my paper concerning the effect of cane toads on freshwater crocodiles in Australia. The militaristic language used is “massive mortality” and “toad invasion front.”
“Top predators are of particular interest in this context, because their removal can generate substantial cascades of secondary effects on community composition. Cane toads (Bufo marinus) are large South American anurans currently spreading rapidly through tropical Australia. Native predators that attempt to consume these highly toxic toads may die as a result. During surveys of the Victoria River in the semi-arid tropical region of the Northern Territory, we documented massive mortality of freshwater crocodiles (Crocodylus johnstoni) at the toad invasion front.”
(Biological Conservation Jul 2008)

I do agree with Larson in that militaristic metaphors can be harmful and have the potential of being misconstrued without even knowing. However, invasive species are a serious problem and even with these militaristic words is not one of our world’s top priorities. Using militaristic metaphors opens people’s eyes to the problem and encourages them to take action. The action that we take just has to be smart and immediate killing and destroying of an invasive species is not always the best answer.

Mike Letnic , Jonathan K. Webb, Richard Shine Biological Conservation. Vol 141 no. 7, pp. 1773-1782.(2008)

Oct
12

Larson argues that the use of militaristic language imparts negative connotations to the messages conservationists are attempting to spread. Rather than educating the public on the ways in which humans impact the prevalence of nonnative species, the current ways of describing the situation portray two sides. These two sides are unrealistic in a myriad of ways—it sends a message of one side aimed at winning, something that cannot happen because even if invasive species are curtailed, they have already altered the environments they are in and have fundamentally impacted the ecosystems there. Larson recommends using alternative language that fosters more positive ideas such as balanced environments, co-connections between invaders and humans, or shared responsibilities (Larson, 2005).

An article written by George Monbiot on the impact of invasive species in Europe is a direct example of phrases Larson posits writers should avoid because they are dangerous to the furtherance of conservation and awareness. Monbiot writes about the walking catfish now non-natively residing in several Asian and north American countries with descriptive fluidity: “it can burrow into the mud when times are hard and lie without food for months, before exploding back into the ecosystem when conditions improve. It eats almost anything that moves.” (Monbiot, 2010) The key words here are ‘burrow’ and ‘exploding’ because they give visions of a militant enemy planning to attack—but even these words are surrounded by similarly threatening phrases and ideas. Continuing the thread of militaristic ideas, Monbiot writes about “expect[ing] governments to mobilise as soon as the threat appears,” clearly referencing war (Monbiot, 2010).

I think Larson makes a compelling argument against the use of militaristic language to further awareness on invasive species. However, I do think that such language helps to portray the severity of the issues being dealt with. I fail to see how removing this language will help improve the efforts being made to slow the spread of invasive species. I concede that perhaps more writings should focus upon the connections between human action and the prevalence of nonnative species, but I do think that militaristic language plays an immovable part in raising societies’ red flags to try to stem the tide of environmental homogeny.

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

Monbiot, George. 2010. Worse than pollution: crazy ants, bird-eating mice and murdering mink. The Guardian. www.guardian.co.uk.

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

Hanna Grokenberger

SW7: Militaristic Literature

Problems  That Are Not Always Battles

Larson (2005) articulates his opinion regarding the excessive and perhaps unwarranted use of militaristic language when discussing invasive species. The aggressive frame of mind that articles create can pose long-term consequences in slowing the spread of invasive species. Larson (2005) believes that using words such as “… beachhead, battle, kill, eradicate, overrun, [and] explode” (Baskin 2002) can contribute to common misconceptions about a species and the methods being put forth to help solve the problem. Larson (2005) even ventures to say that the metaphors to strategy and war can be counterproductive because they only temporarily motivate readers to action rather than taking a slower, long-term approach to the issues at hand.

In The Lakeland Times, militaristic language is utilized to reveal the dramatic effects of Eurasian watermilfoil on the Minocqua and Kawaguesaga lake ecosystem. The title alone, “Battle against Eurasian Watermilfoil Continues”, introduces this invasive species as one that is aggressive and engaged in war against people and the environment. The reader is also exposed to language that creates an “us vs. them” mentality. For instance, author Rachel White writes that “[MKLPA] has been charging on with their fight against Eurasian watermilfoil (EWM) this summer…” (White 2010). This may cause readers to avoid working with the species, and instead, may try to eliminate the invader altogether, which may or may not be the most effective or sustainable approach.

I believe that militaristic language is necessary in order to reach the readers, but only if attainable solutions can be made. Otherwise, the use of such metaphors can seem overused and result in negative long-term effects. For instance, White (2010) articulates that, “Patience and focus are key to fighting the battle against EWM.” In this instance, I do not think that militaristic language is the most effective form of rhetoric because this article proposes no immediate action. If time and energy are the key elements of eliminating the spread of this specie, then the use of aggressive, war-like language is superfluous. Even if the readers are compelled to act because of the drastic and overwhelming effects that this exotic species has on the lake’s ecosystem, the article provides little room for he or she to act on it. In effect, readers may become immune to such militaristic approaches in literary articles that actually have a purpose and therefore need to excite the readers. Larson’s (2005) argument can therefore be read in two ways. First, that militaristic language can excite the reader. And secondly, that the excitement can be either beneficial or detrimental to the cause depending on the context and specific variables of invasive species and the articles that describe them.

References:

White, Rachel. 3 September 2010. “Battle against Eurasian watermilfoil continues by  MKLPA.” The Lakeland Times. 11 October 2010.  <http://www.lakelandtimes.com/main.asp?SectionID=13&SubSectionID=13&ArticleID=11864>.

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

Oct
12
Filed Under (SW7) by Max Castillo on 12-10-2010

Larson (2005) says the use of militaristic jargon is promoting self-inflicted wounds in the realm of invasive species control. He proposes this argument based on the idea that militaristic metaphors creates two basic misconceptions about human interaction with invasive species. One of these is the idea that a war has of two opposing sides. In the case of the war against invasive species, it would be us versus the species. Larson claims this is detrimental since it was our activities (global movement, etc.) that brought about invasive species in the first place. This in turn removes us as part of the problem and insists on waging war rather than finding preventive measures. The second misconception is that a war is good versus evil, and if we triumph over the invasive species, the world will be returned to its perfect and original state without invasive species. Larson says this can be a dangerous thought because most of the time, invasive species are only removed to be replaced by another, or have  native species harmed as a side effect. Larson proposes three alternatives to military language: metaphors that emphasize the origin of invasive species (from us), metaphors that show the invasive species as coexisting with humans, and to look at alternative cultural models of restoration.

An example of the language Larson is trying to combat can be found in a blog posted by Max Castillo entitled “SeaKleen Warfare”. The blog describes the efficacy of a new biocide called SeaKleen for use in ballast tanks aboard ships. The title “SeaKleen Warfare” (Castillo 2010) is misleading in the sense that SeaKleen isn’t even being widely used yet. The blog was simply describing trials of the chemical for potential future use. Also, “warfare” implies an ongoing battle while in reality, SeaKleen either works or it doesn’t; there’s no back and forth battle between it and invasive species. The title does however, convince the reader that this is a new, potentially effective tactic in the “war” against invasive species, and might spark enhanced interest in the rest of the blog.

I agree with Larson in the sense that such metaphors may mislead the reader or everyday person. As Larson mentioned, this could potentially cause the person to neglect their role as humans in the problem, as they may fail to see prevention as the only method that’s 100% effective. I do not agree though that such language is unnecessary. I believe that in the realm of future prevention it can cause misconceptions, but with respect to the invasive species currently causing problems, military language can be beneficial. While preventing future spread, we also need to eradicate species that have already become established. In this aspect, military metaphors can help inspire people that this is indeed a sort of war against an established invader. If anything, such metaphors at least get the public’s attention, and with a problem as unrecognized as invasive species, bringing attention to it may be far more important than making a couple possible misleading statements.

References:

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

Castillo, Max. SeaKleen Warfare. Aquatic Invasive Species Word Press. October 12, 2010. SW5. http://sites.duke.edu/writing20_12_f2010/2010/09/24/seakleen-warfare-sw-5/

Oct
12
Filed Under (SW7) by Abby Starnes on 12-10-2010

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.

<http://hawaii.gov/dlnr/dar//pubs/ais_mgmt_plan_final.pdf>

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

Oct
11
Filed Under (SW7) by Tyler Lacy on 11-10-2010

Larson (2005) expresses his belief that the much used militaristic language in invasion biology has no place in scholarly articles. He states that even though the metaphors may draw attention to the articles, they are overall ineffective.  Larson argues that the use of this language draws the reader towards a man vs. enemy viewpoint which in turn causes an inaccurate perspective of the problems regarding invasive species. Larson believes that this “us vs. them” way of thinking is an oversimplification of the problem and that it is leading a complete public misunderstanding. One example of this kind of language is found in a blog posted by Brianca King (10-09-2010).  In her paper, Brianca discusses termites and their detrimental effects on building and infrastructure. She states that “When the troops…dumped their crates…the termites began their attack.” (Brianca 2010)  In actuality, the termites did not attack anything, only started eating their natural food, but this militaristic language draws the reader into the article and helps the reader understand that there is a threat.

I agree with Larson’s argument in that militaristic language can lead the reader to have an inaccurate and ineffective viewpoint regarding the fight to control aquatic invasion however I believe that it still must be used. In today’s society, there are very few ways to get public attention and one is to pose a serious threat and treat the problem as if humans were at war with these aquatic invaders. Even if the public, in general, has a faulty perspective on the issue because of the use of militaristic language, I believe that the transaction costs would be much too high and nothing in the field of invasion biology could ever be accomplished if the language were not used. Larson’s arguments may be true, but militaristic language must be kept in invasion biology articles.

References:

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

King, Brianca. Termite Attack!. Aquatic Invasive Species Word Press. October 09, 2010. SW2. http://sites.duke.edu/writing20_12_f2010/2010/09/10/termite-attack/