BY SYD SINGER – State Rep. Faye Hanohano, a native Hawaiian, made the news recently by making disparaging statements against non-native Hawaiian residents. Now, the State is declaring Invasive Species Awareness Week, and is making disparaging statements against non-native species.
The argument is the same in both cases. The Hawaiian “brand” is being tainted by introduced cultures and species from other parts of the planet. While it is not currently politically correct to attack immigrant peoples from different cultures, it is politically correct to attack immigrant species from different ecosystems.
And the key word is attack. The state is at war with coqui frogs, strawberry guava fruit trees, mangrove trees, banyan trees, and many other species whose sole offense is that they are not part of the Hawaiian brand.
The term “invasive” does not only apply to noxious species, like mosquitoes or agricultural insect pests. It refers to species that change the character of the environment and allegedly alter our way of life.
Coqui frogs, for example, may be loved in their native Puerto Rico for their nighttime chirping, but the sound is not Hawaiian, so coquis are considered invasive here. The sound is Caribbean, not Polynesian.
Strawberry guava was introduced to Hawaii from Brazil about 200 years ago and has become part of the local culture, even given the local name “waiawi”. But it is now under attack because our forests are supposed to have native species of o’hia and koa, not Brazilian strawberry guava.
Red mangroves were brought to Hawaii 100 years ago to protect shoreline and provide habitat for fish and other marine life. Ancient Polynesians who settled Hawaii brought with them white mangrove, called milo, for the same reason. Now, however, the red mangrove is being destroyed because it is not native to Hawaii and is changing the character of the shoreline, while white mangrove is being protected because the Hawaiians brought it here.
The coqui frog, strawberry guava, and mangrove are all desirable species where they are native. They were desirable species in Hawaii prior to our current nativistic chauvinism. Like different cultures that have come to Hawaii, these newcomers have changed the character of these islands. Some people like the change. Others hope for the past and are angry at the new Hawaii that is evolving.
There is a cost, however, for wanting the past. You must first destroy the present.
The war on invasive species uses chemical and biological weapons. Herbicides are sprayed on our forests to kill unwanted plants with the allegation this will save the watershed, meanwhile polluting our groundwater. Insect pests, fungus and pathogens are released into the environment to sicken and destroy targeted species, and often end up attacking non-target species, too.
In Hawaii, there is only one land mammal, the hoary bat. Everything else was introduced, making our wildlife almost completely “invasive” and targeted for eradication.
The economic cost of destroying these nonnative resources is never calculated because it is currently politically incorrect for Hawaii to value non-Hawaiian species. Another cost that is not considered is how the native agenda is creating hatred and prejudice towards nonnative people.
Fear of people from other cultures is called xenophobia. Fear of species from other ecosystems is called bio-xenophobia. One feeds the other. And both go against the Aloha Spirit, which is the real brand that these islands should be promoting.
Native species, like native culture, must adapt to change, or face extinction. That’s a fact of life and of nature. We can hate that fact, and hate all newcomers to Hawaii, whether they be human, animal, or plant. But it is that hate that will destroy our way of life.
We can accept change. But we must not accept hatred.
One issue with invasive or exotic species is that they DO exist other places, and as you note, may be common and/or valued there. What about the value of all the species that will disappear if invasive non-native species are let to spread unchecked? When those Hawaiian native plant and wildlife species disappear, they don't just disappear from Hawaii, they disappear from the earth forever. It's an abdication of responsibility to artificially move a bunch of species around the world much farther, more quickly, and on a much larger scale than they ever would on their own, and say, "well, they better just learn to figure it out." Most people are smart enough to recognize the difference between immigration/emmigration of human races within our current range and mixing of cultures, and abrupt introduction of non-native wildlife or plant species that can threaten entire ecosystems.
Too bad you did not expand your coverage of the damage done to all of us in Hawaii by the Puna person (PP).
The story by Hawaii Reporter Maile Z. should be required reading by the other 75 Legislators.
The way you help allieviate the strain in the native species is to "invade" other areas. Plant some white mangroves in Florida. If they are successful in their invasion there, you can bring it back here if they are Darwined out by the red. I guess what I'm saying is "Spread the wealth!"
So much injustice has been inflicted on the Hawaiian people and their land of Hawaii, it is a shame. At the same time, it would be wrong to send everybody back from where they came, or eradicate them in any other way. Many "new" comers are good people with respect and support for the "natives." Others have caused great harm. Yet the inter mixing of races has created the local culture in the history of Hawaii. In the same way, plants and animals that came through out history have been a plus to Hawaii. Non-native plants and animals in many cases have become co-existent ecosystems with the native species, as well as have become a part of the local culture. To eradicate such a wide spread influence in the environment has and will result in the decline of native species in many cases. For example, native birds feed on non-native plants. This is something that has not been released to the public. The biological and chemical agents are creating mass dead vegetation. Large trees are just left for the gov to remove along highways. Private citizens have to bear the cost of removing dead and dieing vegetation on their properties. Meanwhile, the ugly factor is blemishing our land scape. Check out what is happening to the African tulips in some places. There was a bio-control released on them. Public funds are spent to "educate the public" to become prejudge against non-native species, and you can get confused about where to draw the line.
Singer does not know what he is talking abut. He is a medical doctor and should leave he BS about ecology and evolutionary biology at the door.
I HAVE LIVED IN THE MT. VIEW AREA FOR 18 YRS. I MOVED HERE BECAUSE OF THE PEACEFUL FOREST THAT SURROUNDED THIS PLACE. IT WAS SO QUITE AT NIGHT. THIS I CONSIDERED TO BE ONE OF THE MOST INCREDABLE EXPERIENCES OF HAWAII. NOW WITH THE FROGS ,WHICH I HAVE BEEN TOLD STARTED IN A N. KUALANI NUSERY WITH THE STATES FULL KNOWLEGE, HAS RUINED MY NIGHTS HERE. I HAVE A HEARING PROBLEM THAT MAKES THIS EVEN WORSE. I CAN'T HERE TV, PHONE CALLS, AND EVEN NORMAL CONVESATION WITHOUT TURNING THE VOLUME UP ON EVERYTHING. I CONSIDER THE COQUI INVASION TO BE RIGHT UP THERE WITH RATS, MOSQUITOS, AND FIRE ANTS. YOU WOULD HAVE TO BE NUTS TO THINK THIS CONSTANT NOISE TO BE SOOTHING. FOR MR. SINGER TO SUGGEST THAT THESE FROGS ARE INTITLED TO PROTECTION ON THE GROUNDS OF RACISM IS THE MOST WACKED OUT PROPOSAL I THINK I HAVE EVER HEARD. THIS KIND OF POLITICALLY CORRECT NONSENSE IS BEYOND BELIEF. WHATS EVEN MORE ASTOUNDING IS THAT SO MANY MEDIA SOURSES WOULD GIVE THIS NUTCASE A FORUM TO SPREAD THIS KIND PC.–BS. K.E.
I think this is jut silly. Don't they have anything more important to think about? What are these plants or frogs doing to them?
The invasives hysteria is just another opportunity for big government to further its control freak agenda. It was expressed in Nazi Germany's policies (they worked fanatically to purge "non Aryan" plants from the Reich), and constitutes a manifestation of xenophobia and plant racism. The hoax is expounded in "Invasion Biology–Critique of a Pseudoscience" by David Theodoropoulos, which has unfortunately gone out of print. There's a paper by him in the same vein at http://www.dtheo.org/NativesVs.Exotics.htm .
These power mongers already have enough authority without arrogating the right to micromanage what we grow. How come GMO canola isn't banned as invasive, huh? Dow, Monsanto, and other herbicide pushers are often well represented (and sometimes have founded) local "invasive species" organizations. How can any sane person think it's a good idea to drench an area in artificial toxins in a misguided attempt to annihilate "foreigners."
Down with The Man!
[…] We engage in this sort of insanity in the US too. […]
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