In an article for the New York Times titled “Invasive Species Aren’t Always Unwanted,” Erica Goode refers to the research of several biologists who specialize in the movements and environmental impacts of organisms that are considered to be invasive species in order to illustrate how attitudes toward these species are beginning to shift from purely negative to more investigative ideas, as the scientific community examines the varying effects that they can have on their adopted communities (Goode). As Goode writes, in reference to the popularly held belief that invasive species should be eradicated, “a growing number of scientists are challenging this view, arguing that not all invasive species are destructive; some, they contend, are even beneficial” (Goode). In beginning to describe her argument, Goode interviews ecologist Ken Thompson, who describes how invasive species have had a greater rate of propagation due to the modern political climate, as he states that “eradicating most invasive species is virtually impossible in an era of globalization” (Goode). This relates to concepts relevant to our course, as Thompson’s statement reveals the relationship that humans have with the natural world, as humankind can influence the world’s ecosystems and the organisms that live within them. Due to humanity’s current ease of mobility around the world, species of animals, which can be classified as invasive, are also able to move and change habitats more freely, as they can “hitch a ride” on human modes of transportation, such as transport ships or planes.
This also relates to the next main point in Goode’s article, that climate change, which is occurring largely in part to humankind’s production of gasses that are harmful to the ozone layer, also allows for greater migration of species, as different ecosystems become hospitable to organisms that previously could not have survived within them, or as Thompson states in the article, “as climate change pushes more species out of their home ranges and into new areas, the number of so-called invaders is likely to multiply exponentially” (Goode). This concept once again relates to the course idea on the impact that humanity can have on the survival and propagation of different ecosystems, as climate change forces native organisms to deal with invasive species that might actually be better suited to an ecosystem than the organisms that were once native to it. As Michelle Nijhuis writes in her article for the Smithsonian Magazine, “How Climate Change is Helping Invasive Species Take Over,” “several invasive species are, by nature, highly flexible, and respond to unusual environments more quickly than do natives,” which can place native species in danger of being pushed out by invasive species, which can flourish quickly (Nijhuis).
These invasive species, with their rapid adaptability, can either positively or negatively affect their new environments, which is an idea that Goode explores in her article, and also why her article initially caught my attention. The impact of invasive species affects the majority of us everyday, as Goode writes that “much of what Americans eat was originally imported,” as European colonizers brought over species of plants and animals that they were accustomed to, whether as food or for their utility, such as the horse, to use Goode’s example (Goode). Because of this idea, as well as the idea that the natural world is adapting to and surviving the changes that humanity has brought upon the planet as a whole, Goode’s article caught my attention, as it is relevant not only to my own interest, as I study how the planet will change and adapt to the blight of climate change, but it’s also relevant to the material that I am learning about and familiarizing myself with in this course.
Regarding funding toward research on this topic, I believe that the impact of invasive species on ecosystems around the world, and the effects of climate change that are allowing for these migrations of species, is an issue of global importance, and because of this federal importance as well, so taxpayer money should definitely be used to fund research into this topic. As, according to Nijhuis’ article, “invasive plants already cost the United States around $30 billion per year in eradication efforts,” it is definitely in the federal government’s, as well as the taxpayers’, best interest to further research into the impact and propagation of these species, as greater knowledge and understanding of how and why these changes in environment are welcoming invasive species could allow the government to save billions of dollars a year in funding for eradication efforts (Nijhuis). Because of this, research into the increased propagation of invasive species due to human mobility and climate change should be of paramount importance, as this issue is related to the way in which the planet, along with the organisms that inhabit it, is beginning to change due to the actions and decisions of humanity.
Erica Goode’s article for the New York Times presents the interesting idea that invasive species are not truly the environmental scourge that they are popularly perceived to be, but instead the result of increased human mobility around the world, as well as the ecosystem-altering effects of climate change. Because of the way in which she approaches the topic, Goode’s article relates directly to concepts found within our course, as it supports the importance of the relationship between humankind and the environment and its organisms.
- Goode, Erica. (2016, February 29). “Invasive Species Aren’t Always Unwanted.” The New York
Times. Page C5.
- Nijhuis, Michelle. (2013, December). “How Climate Change is Helping Invasive Species Take
Over.” Smithsonian Magazine. Pages 25-27.