The Most Invasive Species

Many of our local lakes, and rivers struggle with an invasive species of mussel called the Zebra Mussel.  It wrecks havoc on our ecosystem as well as water based infrastructure.  A  native of Russia they were originally thought to have been brought in on the hulls, anchors, or ballast water of boats entering the Great Lakes from the St. Lawrence Seaway.  Although they have destroyed much they also have helped the ecosystem because they filter toxins from water, and have actually done some good with the highly polluted Great Lakes and according to Wikipedia (all of the things I stated previously I knew from following this for many years but this is new to me…) they have actually been accounted for the increase in the population of small mouth bass.

noaa.gov

Zebra Mussels

In Clark Reservation where I hike as often as I can, there are several invasive species, buckthorn a shrubby tree that was brought here as a purge medicine, chokes out other species of trees, and make bushwhacking very difficult.  Also the Pale Swallow-wort an invasive species of milkweed that takes over the natural plants, including the local common milkweed that monarch butterflies love, swallow-wort is however, toxic to monarchs and cattle for that matter.  But when I heard on the news the other day that one of the great fears from the Japanese Tsunami is the possibility of a new invasion of unwanted species, I had to stop and think.

Swallow-wort

Zebra Mussels carried on the hulls of ships is a product of human invasion.  Tsunamis are a natural occurrence of nature, and therefore are not the events that transpire with new species being introduced to the western coastline just a product of change and natural selection?  Something we should embrace as we continue to destroy our own ecosystem? As we continue to kill off species of plants and animals around the world, not only by our own introduction of toxins to the environment, but also by our introduction of green house gases to the atmosphere, or global climate change.  Many species which occur naturally in our area are predicted to die out and a climate more in line with North Carolina’s ecosystem will replace ours, do we not want hurricanes to blow pollen, seeds, and flying creatures into our region to replace that which we are killing already?

One day I was having a conversation with someone about Global Climate Change and he said something that I had never heard before or thought of:  When the climate changes we will adapt, or not, other species will adapt, or not, and new species will arise, over the millenia things have changed and our planet adapts.  HM.  OK.

The thing is, that for a long time I have thought of humans as giant germs or a great cancer slowly but surely killing our earth. We prevent new species from coming in, introduce species which in the end choke out old species, kill living things to prevent them from establishing in the environment, because in the short term other species cannot adapt, we rebuild beaches being washed away naturally by the tides and currents of the ocean, build on flood plains and then wrench our hearts with the awfulness of tragedy when they flood.  Build below the existing waterway, destroy water, trees, plants and animals all in the name of our dominance over the earth.  A cougar or a bear in our front yard?  We kill it, though we are the invader in their territory.  We even do it and have always done it to other humans.  We want your land, we take it, we slaughter other humans so that we have access to their resources.

And yet we are resistant to culling ourselves.  Resistant to stopping ourselves from populating areas that should be left alone, move around the globe establishing ourselves in places where there are already existing populations of humans.  As we begin to explore space we are like a metastasized cancer.  Spreading out to new planets.  What if intelligent life out there one day views us as an invasive species that must be eliminated.  What if we are visited by outsiders from the universe, and we decide they too are an invasive species.  Hell the whole immigration debate is about preventing an invasive crop of human beings.  Right?  They take our jobs (zebra mussels kill off other species of lake life), they use our resources (they eat the food other life forms want to eat), they don’t learn our language (they form their own colonies), but too there are good things.  What would the US be like without tacos, or salsa dancing, or latin music, or the architecture and art of Central America.  What would the Great Lakes be like if the Zebra Mussels had not spent the last several decades cleaning up the HUMANS water pollution?

It is human beings who are invasive.  And I have thought for a long time, that the Bible should not have said humans have dominion over the earth, rather that they are care-takers of the earth.  But the Bible says love one another, but I suppose, not the invasive ones.

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3 comments on “The Most Invasive Species

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