GrrlScientist and I are typically on the same side of issues, but this time that's not the case. She is very concerned about some of the implications of a bill that's currently making its way through the House of Representatives, and I think that the same bill is a good one that deserves to pass. The bill in question - House Resolution 669 - is intended to help keep new invasive species from becoming established in the United States.
After reading Grrl's post, I don't think that our disagreement stems from any difference of opinion about the science that's involved. I'm reasonably sure that both of us have the same basic understanding of the potential dangers involved with invasive species, and that we both understand quite a bit about the enormous difficulties that are going to be involved in any attempt to keep new invasives out. Our disagreement is largely caused by our different backgrounds and priorities.
The way I approach anything that has to do with invasive species is heavily influenced by the six years that I spent learning the basics of zoology and ecology in Hawaii. As you may know, invasives have done enormous damage to the entire Hawaiian ecosystem, and new invasive species continue to arrive and create new harm there with painful regularity. GrrlScientist's approach to this bill is heavily influenced by her involvement with exotic birds. She doesn't just care for her birds, she cares passionately about them.
And there's nothing wrong with that. It's not a feeling that I share, but that's because birds simply aren't my thing. I've never owned one, or really wanted to (as far as I can recall, anyway). Cats and dogs are the pets for me, and they're specifically excluded from this legislation (more on that later). There's no way that I'm going to weight the concerns of bird owners as heavily as Grrl does - but that's not to say that she's wrong.
This bill is a good example of something that I've tried to say a couple of times when we've discussed the whole "restoring science to it's rightful place" thing: understanding the science involved doesn't necessarily mandate a particular course of action. If Grrl and I disagree to any substantive degree about the harm that invasives can do to the ecology and economy of the United States, I'd be absolutely stunned. That doesn't mean that I'm at all surprised that we disagree about this particular bill and the approach that it takes in addressing that potential harm.
In the rest of this post, I'll give you a quick overview of the major features of the bill, and explain why I think it's a pretty good piece of legislation, on the whole. I'll also take a look at a couple of Grrl's objections to the bill. Before you reach any conclusion of your own, you should at a minimum read her post in full, and try to find answers to any questions you might have.
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