Saturday, October 31, 2009

Invasive Species & Halloween

Sneaky, scary, furtive, dangerous, nimble, destructive, hidden, unexpected, spooky, terrifying, wickedly inconvenient, invasive species play trick-or-treat on Halloween and all the other days of the year. Beautifully dangerous invasive species bite and sting, overwhelm and destroy, bring pestilence and chaos. Invasive species like trick-or-treaters can look desirable but can also, when not controlled, wreak havoc on the landscape. Invasive species come in all shapes and sizes from single cell organism to charismatic mega plants and animals. Behind the friendly masks and costumes lurk potential villains of destruction. Invasive species flicker in and out of our collective imagination investing landscapes on a time scale that hides from notice until it is too late.

Like the customs and tradition that surround Halloween and have moved and changed through the centuries, invasive species have accompanied mankind as he has spread through out the last empty spaces of the planet. All Hallow’s Eve is based upon the cycles of agriculture and harvest, of the movement between the live and death. Invasive species move with humanity’s disturbance of the land and man’s dependence upon the crops of his toil. Like a roiling forest fire invasive species are an organic conflagration altering forever the ecological relationships of the natural are into which they come. And like the costumed demons of Halloween, invasive species can hide their destructive, negative intent behind familiar reassuring forms. The cat of Halloween is both pet and scary avatar, and a potential progenitor of a feral familiar.

Invasive species lack an Oprah or a Gore to champion the cost to the environment and to the quality of human life. We fail to realize the impact and the cost to ecosystem services that invasion may engender. Some people boldly fret about the impact of climate change, but little is said about the role of invasive species in altering the current balance of resources provided. Invasive species do not have cache, and go about their destructive work mostly unnoticed. We hesitate to invest in prevention because it is hard to grasp the reason to spend money on something that may or may not happen, and then, we pay to control the invasive impact, an effort which rarely gets the upper hand. We find familiar beauty and claim artistic privilege or economic benefit to plant or herd; we cry a while for the loss of habitat or tree or the last of a kind, and then return to our world lessen by the loss.

This Halloween I am thinking of dressing up as an invasive species and scaring the daylights out of the world.


Kasey said...

For the invasive species threat to find a champion, I guess the challenge would be to make it somehow glamorous enough for someone to take up the cause...

Flowers said...

Your blog looks wonderful. Halloween ends and now its time to go shopping for Christmas gifts. Less than 50 days left for Christmas :)