Sunday, April 15, 2007

Invasive Species Fuel Furor

When speaking to garden enthusiast and community interest groups, about botanical invasive species, I, in an attempt to quickly create an understanding point out that plants which are easy to propagate, easy to grow, need no watering, mowing, weeding, feeding or edging, are cheap, grow in many conditions, do not cost much money, are guaranteed for life and beyond, and are inexpensive usually are a indicating the possibility of invasiveness. I noted the flurry of blog posting last year over the idea of planting ten percent of the state of Illinois in Miscanthus to generate fifty per cent of the energy needs of the state. [Invasive Miscanthus; the Challenge of Use and Definition, Saturday, October 28, 2006]

This initial surface idea of invasiveness readily moves from horticulture to the bio-fuel discussion. “Most of the traits that are touted as great for biofuel crops – no known pests or diseases, rapid growth, high water-use efficiency – are red flags for invasion biologists,” Wiedenmann said. “We want to start a dialog and approach the question of bio fuels systematically.” [Bio fuels as Invasive Species?, September 21, 2006]. As the on going challenge of invasive species’ definition continues, the complexity of what exactly we speak comes inversely clearer as the actual issue becomes more obscure. Each attempt to precise define the problem is burdened by the multitude of solutions which are promulgated by differing stakeholders and interests groups.

As wicked problems go, the invasive species controversy teems with classic entanglements. A recent white paper noted that “Bio fuel crops can have economic benefits, but in some cases can also have the potential to escape cultivation and become invasive in natural ecosystems." [Biofuels and Invasive Plant Species, Joe DiTomaso, Jodie Holt, and Nelroy Jackson]

Backreaction: Global Warming, expands on the wicked inconvenience of having to make complex choices with mostly limited knowledge. One feature of a wicked problem is that solutions themselves alter the definition and change to contemplation matrix in unforeseen, irreversible and unexpected ways. I quote from Backreaction’s posting: “We have the power to cause significant effects on the equilibrium of our environment, and we should be very careful with what we do, or we risk consequences that might be irreversible (we can of course debate whether or not it would be a great loss if the human race vanishes from earth's surface).”

I am trying to create a list of stakeholders and, eventually, their proposed solutions, hoping to find common ground. Any additions to my list would be gladly accepted.

Gardeners, land managers, environmentalists, plant collectors, outdoor hobbyists, vacationers, drivers, home owners, transportation departments, schools(students), parks(users), departments of defense, interior, agriculture, commerce, energy, homeland security, grocery markets, clothing market, and fashion market, farmers – traditional & organic, tourists, ecologists, botanists, taxonomists, biologists, agronomists.

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