Ascension Island and the subject of Climate Change

Discussion in 'Plants: Conservation' started by anza, Oct 21, 2013.

  1. anza

    anza Active Member

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    This was actually an interesting post by author Fred Pearce and I felt compelled to write something in support of his article because he has taken on so much hate for writing it. Without much more description, here is mostly my response to the criticism and the missed opportunity for study novel ecosystems to reverse climate change. The demand to remove the Tropical Forest and bring the island back to it's barren wilderness state by the Invasive Plant cult is appalling to me.


    Climate Change and "Ascension Island"





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  2. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Renowned Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    I quit reading as soon as Godwin's Law was invoked:

     
  3. woodschmoe

    woodschmoe Active Member 10 Years

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    Sure, Daniel, but that "Law" falls apart in cases where the subject at hand is historically rooted in Nazi policy, no? And, like it or not, in this case, it was indeed the National Socialists who applied the notion of large-scale ecosystem modification via the removal of 'non-native' (non-Aryan) plant species in the service of a properly 'purified' countryside. Whatever 'side' one takes in this, the Nazi connection is foundational, and fair to mention. Not in any fashion mind you: it's well out of bounds to call contemporary adherents "Nazis". But the linkage is not spurious, or rhetorical in this case: it is historic, and I would argue very much relevant: notions of natural 'purity', species 'pollution' and the need to protect the 'native' from the degradation of 'outsiders' or 'non-natives', still central to the contemporary belief, find their contemporary root in Nazi domestic programs. There is a goodly portion of this issue that remains entangled in notions of xenophobia, national purity, and the idealized 'native' or 'volk' vis-a-vis a world in which outside species seek to invade and degrade a perceived utopian (and static) state of nature. It might be regrettable, and adherents of this line of thinking might not like the history of their idea (indeed, they often cite inventions like "Godwins' Law" to avoid having to think about it), but one cannot simply erase the history because it makes people uncomfortable.

    That's always been the problem with Godwin's "Law"; in some cases, it acts as a convenient barrier to a proper historic view. Which is ironic, as Godwin himself intended it to be enforce historic understanding: wishing those who casually invoke Nazism to think harder bout the term, and the Holocaust in particular.

    Sometimes the analogies, or at least the linkages, are accurate. It's foolish to honestly suggest that the contemporary expression of these ideas is a direct continuation of National Socialist ideology. But it does root in it, and it's foundational assumptions are perhaps closer to this line of thought than many would like to admit (or discover). Doesn't make it incorrect though...it it did, every historic discussion of 1940's Europe would be censored by Godwin's assertion. But this is very much an issue related to Nazi notions of purity, and in terms of the natural world, eugenics (indeed, it is the enactment of these ideals through domestic land policy). And such discussions are clearly ID'd by Godwin as being outside his "law", as indeed they must be.

    Uncomfortable thought? Yes. Historically inaccurate? Alas, no. Whether or not there's a viable, proper field of study/endeavour amidst it all, 'invasion biology' continues to rest on some subjective assertions ('native' vs' non-native', etc.) which, in terms of being enacted in official policy, have clear historic roots, but unclear scientific justification. Perhaps a proper historic discussion of the matter can better identify which terms in the field are science, and which are subjective hold-overs from an era in which they only made 'scientific' sense in relation to an ideology of the natural world that is, thankfully, mostly gone. Might be good, to honestly examine these roots and purge whatever in the field still relates to this distasteful logic: some of it seems to be getting in the way of the field itself, if some of the stuff published in the last couple of years is any indication (ie. numbers of ecologists/biologists publishing critiques of the field).
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2013
  4. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Renowned Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Thanks, I learned something today. I didn't know about the historic linkages, and dug a bit deeper into the literature. For example, Confronting introduced species: a form of xenophobia? (PDF), by Simberloff in Biological Invasions 5:179–192, 2003.

    The Simberloff article gives me something to read and consider, but I maintain that the original linked post with the pejorative "native plant Nazis" won't get additional time from me as I consider that out of bounds.
     
  5. anza

    anza Active Member

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    Yeah, I found the comments and dissent very surprising, although in some ways I still don't like invasive plants that do truly cause harm, I rather prefer the term Naturalized with plants that have acquired some establishment, but more controlled. Especially if they don't dominate, take over and harm an ecosystem, they seem to add value to some plant communities. Still, when I have restored habitats in the southwest, I have gone with natives, although I'm more open minded with other southwestern plants which may even be from other states. It just seems like so many lessons are not being studied or examples passed by which could add value to rebuild our weather systems back up to scratch.
     
  6. anza

    anza Active Member

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    Thanks, My friends and I have always joked about our stubborn strictness with Natives Only, but given world history, I sometimes wonder what native really means. I've changed my strict stubborn views on natives and become more open minded. Too bad the term clouds the import of the article and story behind Ascension Island. It could almost be comparable to the Ecclesiastical Hierarchical Structure of Christendom back in the Dark Ages the way they stifled anyone who went against their religious orthodoxy. I also find many comparisons there, although the present Scientific Orthodoxy doesn't like that comparison either. Still, when a leadership's hackles are raised, there is almost no convincing or discussion to be allowed. So much for the Free-Thought Gang.

    Enjoyed your read Mate.
     
  7. anza

    anza Active Member

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    This was interesting, I hadn't picked up on the righteous indignation attitude until now, but it beautifully illustrates my point. No one appears to want to research or discuss what has taken place on Ascension Island from a mechanisms point of view. The fact that a once truly desert island now has a tropical forest and it rains there now as a result of the vegetation's influence and ability to tap into the moisture surrounding the island. The dissenting articles which followed against Fred Pearce's article and the vicious comments by those at the bottom which were literally filled with bigoted hatred resulting from a narrow or tunnel visioned view of natives only, actually stifles any further study for observing the plant mechanisms involved in creating weather and changing or reversing the present climate problems. Nobody appears interested because of being shackled to an archaic old paradigm which is killing this planet and preventing any type of recovery.

    Had you held back your righteous indignation and read on, you would have seen that I placed myself as a target as one who once held such ideologically driven beliefs of Natives ONLY which actually held me back from any further learning because of my own past bigotry. Yes, I am still a natives only person in many ways and under specific circumstances, but I am now more open minded about many things when it comes to plants. I view things from an orderly perspective as opposed to "Stuff Happens" which was referenced in the article. I labeled myself as a native plant nazi, using it only as a metaphor for illustrating what a hindrance my own attitude was in the past which prevented me from viewing the natural world in a wider context.

    I've always found this invoking of "Godwin's Law" as more of a immediate preconceived dislike imaginary view of what the subject was about without actually viewing the facts. This wasn't a post so much about the extreme view of ideologues as it was of a missed golden opportunity of a unique ecosystem and why it succeeded despite many of the religious paradigms about the natural world. You could almost compare the invoking of "Godwin's Law" of Fred Pearce's article by those commenters at the bottom of his post like that of a territorial yard dog who is offended by a mailman's special delivery of a letter containing vital lifesaving information to the reader. The hound simply walks over, figuratively urinates on it, turns it's back and in a bold territorial statement scratches the earth with it's hind legs and saunters off in a huff. Although in this case here, it was not so severe, but more of a Lars Thorwald preventing what he views as a mongrel dog from digging up an inconvenient truth that may have hit close to home. In any event it doesn't matter any way, but it is illustrative as to why nothing truly gets accomplished on the subject of climate change or improving our planet's environment globally. Again, I believe the import of Ascension Island will be lost here in this forum by the majority as a result. Yes, I understand that most of these forum venues are a sort of universe created by a god-like administrator and all rules of thought are governed by his or her viewpoint. It's just too bad that a personal bias over a merely illustrative term (which was never meant to offend & often used with my own attitude from the past) prevents the import of the Yale Environment 360 article to be thrown in the rubbish heap forever to be lost.

    But I again enjoyed your view Woodschmoe, although as yet, nothing about the subject matter has yet to be discussed. Thanks again.
     
  8. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Renowned Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    I have no issues with discussing the topic at-hand. The topic sounds intriguing. But, I'm going to react negatively when the information that is intended to enlighten needs to be extracted from language that is intended to inflame. Respect me as a reader to make my own determinations about who is "in the wrong" on the topic.

    I was very careful to make statements about my reaction and how I felt about the language. I did not censor nor make statements about the author.
     
  9. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Whatever the specific motivations of people reacting to alien plant invasions in each instance the fact remains that these agricultural and ecological disruptions are a huge and expensive problem. On a small scale a few specimens on a plot may become many later, at which point it will be in the very least quite time consuming to remove them. And each such individual is taking a space that might otherwise be used by a species that is part of the local ecosystem. Of course, on many urban sites in particular the growing conditions are so degraded that local natives may have mostly or entirely fallen away, and been replaced by better adapted foreign species. But should we applaud and embrace this transition, or try to make improvements? The same degraded environment that excludes native plants adapted to the cleaner air and fresher soils of the past is also not good for us.
     
  10. anza

    anza Active Member

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    Sorry, I guess I'm becoming more and more disgusted with the entire Leadership this planet is offering mankind these days. While I was successful at Landscaping and gardening, my love for the natural world and conservation and the issues being ignored by the average person who is more out of touch now days with Nature than at any time in the past. I don't see any correction, even by the scientific community that they will fix the problems any time soon.
     
  11. anza

    anza Active Member

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    Hi Uncle Ronnie

    I'm right there with you on everything here Mate. The Ascension Island issue is not like other plant invasions. Especially since for the most part, Ascension Island had almost no plants, with the exception of Ferns and some biological soil crusts. Of course all those things have spores which could have blown in from the wind, along with any other tiny annuals. What the plants did was create an amazing unique ecosystem which escaped from Sailor's gardens and created Green Mountain into a sort of Tropical or subtropical forests. My interest is the effect this had on weather and cloud creation and rain which the island never had much of before. But even with all of this, very few are interested in studying the mechanics of just how weather and climate change creation for a positive has resulted. Clearly, studying and observing these mechanical features are things which could be replicated in other parts of the Earth to bring back rainfall and aquifer rehabilitation.

    Not even Climate Change people are rushing in there to study. The only News Worthy items that come forward are a bunch of stupid political fighting and words terms like Carbon sequestration. Such talk just blows over the average person's head and the only viable options for change given for reversing side effects like warming or drought is artificial or synthetic biology. Geoengineering, cloud seeding, dumping various chemicals in oceans etc etc etc. I don't want to live in a George Jetson Sci-Fi world, I want the Natural World put back, not only the way it was, but better
     
  12. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Scientists are still trying to figure out how natural processes work, a more or less artificial situation like this is not going to draw the same interest for that reason. And naturally developed rain forests are being cleared and depopulated of species faster that science can keep up with, at this point perhaps every day plants and animals living in their native ranges and ecosystems are being obliterated forever without them even having been recognized and described by science beforehand.
     
  13. Sundrop

    Sundrop Well-Known Member

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    Even better! Sounds a little scary to me since, as I have noticed, a lot of destruction done to this planet has been done by those who wanted to make it "even better" (the rest has been done by those who didn't care).

    So, what exactly have you been doing to make it better?
     
  14. anza

    anza Active Member

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    It's called actually dumping religious assumptions about nature, dumping the flawed thinking of Nature is imperfect, flawed and a lousy designer, actually getting off our backsides by going out into the field and observing how nature actually operates and replicating those observations when it comes to habitat restoration. This would mean dumping years of failed and flawed industrial science-based which seeks to manipulate nature for profit. This is why we have terrible programs of gmos, because nature is perceived as a bad designer and than somehow Biotech and the genius behind them somehow know better for no other reason then their collective shear intellect says so.

    Over here in Sweden, we have industrial forestry which has genetically engineered various trees created with less lignin and engineered to grow faster. The goal was to harvest trees in 25 years as opposed to 100+ years and assisted with the help of chemical fertilizers spread by planes and helicopters. Why ? Because the mycorrhizae doesn't colonize their gmo junk as it would with wild trees. This is the land of Sci-Fi. This is also why Swedish lakes, rivers and streams look like junk with tones of gray-brown algae floating around everywhere.

    Even a child could get this.
     

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