pbs Digest, Vol 68, Issue 1 Establishing taxa as present.

Adam Fikso adam14113@ameritech.net
Mon, 01 Sep 2008 12:43:03 PDT
Hello all:  I, too, am disturbed by the inauguration of the thinking that has resulted in this particular  way of guarding against invasive plants and plant organisms.  Surely they would not have done this with pathogenic bacteria and viruses.  First making a list of all taxa present.  Silliness to the nth power.  What is not clear to me is whether this derives out of the U.N. or the USDA.  I haven't been able to find out. (Maybe each country sets up its own method?  of what?) 

 But I haven't devoted a week to it either, nor made any phone calls from my private governmental agency:  me. Even if they started with a much shorter list of known invasive plants (for any country)  then checked to see if they continued to be invasive when exported to other climates, they'd find that the problem began to be minimized. 
Because:  Even Kudzu doesn't do well in Alaska.  Bomarea which can be a pest and is already on a list of invasives south of the equator, must be grown as a houseplant  or a greenhouse with great care in the Chicago area if one wants to keep it alive.

This is not an agricultural problem nor a botanical problem, or even a climatological problem exclusively-- it is a psychological or  thinking  problem in logic related to how masses of new data are  assessed and organized.  It is determined by the categories one is utilizing to assess and analyze a set of data.  It is the beginnings of a different kind of taxonomy.  This is not an issue of right or wrong, safe or harmful, but of useful or not useful  ways of organizing the issue.   First: is the problem in the U.S. the same as it is in Colombia, Bangladesh or Antalya?  Does the problem  need to be redfined?  Has this iquestion with relation to invasive plants been addressed?  
  If anyone in this organization has the ear of anybody with "clout" upstairs or at the U.N. or NAPPO., they are invited to feel free to use my words or thoughts  here to persuade the powers that be to back off and start the program on a different foot, from a different set of constructs and fears.   This is xenophobia translated to plants and is itself not unlike a virus or transferable thinking disorder, a or new "religious" cult that promises "safety" from forces that are poorly understood.   

The underlying issues should  be obvious, but apparently are not.  The answers one gets to questions are determined by the questions one asks.

  Survey researchers and pollsters  in the social sciences know this (even if they don't follow their own prescriptions much of the time)..What seems very simple--has depth and  is really unexpectedly complex.  Establishing a data bank of already present biota is naive and guarantees jobs for years to come, doesn't allow for mutations, assumes that our current knowledge is adequate, and is simply wrong-headed.

A few years ago, an equally ambitious and poorly thought-out protection plan for endangered plants saw the light of day via an effort out of concern for vanishing species.   A number of irises of the oncocylus subgenus were noted as being extinct.  They are not, they are exceedingly localized mostly as relicts , noteworthily visible only when in bloom only during a short period of time, and not easy to get to in Lebanon and Syria .  Subject to depredation by goats they have survived for at least 50 years in their loci classici.
Mangroves are invasive, should we ban mangrove plants from the British Isles?  We should not be using sledge hammers to smash gnats, but should fit the solution to the problem,.  In this case--the concept of invasiveness is not defined well enough to mount a justification for a cataloguing of ALL taxa in a country..  National security does not justify the effort either.  


Adam Fikso, Ph.D. (psychology)

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