14 December 2016

By “invasive species,” do you mean crayfish or Daleks?

When you’re a scientist, sometimes you forget that other people see the world through different lenses than you do. And sometimes you have that point hammered home in no uncertain terms.

Last week, the American White House released an executive order from outgoing President Barack Obama about invasive species.

As someone who has written about invasive species, I thought, “Ho hum, routine sorts of stuff.”

But because I had shown interest in invasive species, Google suggested this page to me:

NO JOKE! Obama signs executive order to ‘Safeguarding the nation from an INVASIVE SPECIES’

Wait, what? Why is this page showing the American president and a SF style alien? My emphasis:

Obama has pushed through an act called “Safeguarding the Nation from the Impacts of Invasive Species.” The interesting thing about this presidential order (see full text below) is the legal wording of the document leaves a lot up for suspicion. The article was left purposely vague, it seems.

There are a few reasons for this. The first could be simply so the article can be interpreted for years to come. The second is a little more malicious and slightly terrifying. An invasive species in the document is vaguely defined as an organism that disrupts an ecosystem. Because of this, some are speculating that this last order of 2016 is meant to protect from alien invasions, and purposely set some guidelines for the next presidency.

It has been shown in the news that the government is getting closer to telling its people what is actually out in space. If the planet needs protection for these beings, it will make sense that they would be motivated to tell the people, and also motivated to write an article to set up pretenses to protect the Earth. This is only my opinion, but I hope that some of my readers will do some investigation. Something strange is happening within the government.

Now I wonder: when I have said, “invasive species,” how often have non-scientists heard, “alien invaders”? It kind of makes sense to me now. Anyone who watches science fiction will probably heave heard aliens described as “difference species.” Indeed, there’s a horror movie franchise whose name plays around with that ambiguity:

But despite that, it never occurred to me that someone might think “species” is synonymous with “extraterrestrial” rather than meaning “type of organism.”

Now, when I write about potential negative impacts of crayfish introductions, I have to think of other phrases to use so that when I say “invasive species,” people don’t automatically leap to this:

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External links

Executive Order -- Safeguarding the Nation from the Impacts of Invasive Species
NO JOKE! Obama Signs Executive Order To 'Safeguarding The Nation From An INVASIVE SPECIES'

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