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Insects As Weapons

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the preemptive-strike-against-koalas dept.

Science 160

An anonymous reader writes "Timothy Paine, an entomologist at the University of California-Riverside, recently 'committed to the scientific record the idea that California's eucalyptus trees may have been biologically sabotaged, publishing an article [in the Journal of Economic Entomology] raising the possibility of bioterrorism.' Specifically, Paine argues that foreign insect pests have been deliberately introduced in the Golden State, in hopes of decimating the state's population of eucalyptus (especially the two species regarded as invasive, which 'are particularly susceptible to the pests.') In California's Bioterror Mystery, Paine (and scientists who are skeptical) make their arguments. What isn't in dispute is that the insect pests have already inflicted hundreds of millions of dollars in damage, making the story a cautionary tale about what might happen if a food or crop were intentionally targeted."

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160 comments

could be eco terrorism (1)

hguorbray (967940) | about 2 years ago | (#40522609)

considering it targets invasive non local species

although introducing another non native species to counter another one could and often does backfire

-I'm just saying

Abuse of the word terrorism (5, Informative)

k(wi)r(kipedia) (2648849) | about 2 years ago | (#40522843)

TFA appears to be trolling for search engine hits with the use of "terror" or "terrorism" in the article and the title itself (California's Bioterror Mystery). Really, terrorism should be something that at the very least causes you to have qualms, if not outright fear, about your safety.

For example, you might have second thoughts about riding an airplane because of some extremist hijacking it and blowing it up. Ditto for visiting the mall or drinking tap water because somebody might have laced the water supply. But this one? The only terror I see is of the trees falling over and crushing the poor pedestrian standing right next to it. I'm not a koala, so I'm not going to be losing sleep over the loss of my favorite supply of mint.

To be sure, the title of the scientific paper on which the article is based sounds less sensationalistic (unfortunately, a subscription is necessary to read the paper itself):

After a long period of sitting on the findings, Paine finally published the paper, Accumulation of Pest Insects on Eucalyptus in California: Random Process or Smoking Gun, in the Journal of Economic Entomology.

Re:Abuse of the word terrorism (2)

steveha (103154) | about 2 years ago | (#40523573)

I agree. The word "sabotage" would fit the bill perfectly for events as we understand them.

More sensationally, "bio-warfare" could arguably be used (because if we can have a War on Drugs or a War on Poverty, why not a War on Eucalyptus Trees).

But I think "bio-sabotage" or just "sabotage" is the word.

P.S. Wikipedia has an article on sabotage [wikipedia.org] , and that mentions ecotage [wikipedia.org] . But rather than meaning "ecological sabotage", ecotage means "sabotage intended to interfere with damage to the environment".

steveha

Re:Abuse of the word terrorism (0)

uninformedLuddite (1334899) | about 2 years ago | (#40524455)

There is already a "War on Nature". It just hasn't been officially declared yet. Also is what Monsanto has achieved with corn and its hardy little evolving pests able to be classified as bio-terrorism yet?

Re:could be eco terrorism (5, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 years ago | (#40522921)

although introducing another non native species to counter another one could and often does backfire

Man, tell me about it. Here in Chicago we've got the Japanese Longhorn beetle, Asian carp and zebra mussels wreaking havoc on our ecosystem.

People think you can do any goddamn thing you want to nature and the world's always going to be hospitable to humans.

The hundreds of thousands of people dealing with unprecedented wildfires in Colorado and the hundreds of thousands without power in 110 degree heat on the East Coast thanks to some unprecedented storms might have something to say about that. I've been alive since the Eisenhower administration and I've never seen >95 degree heat in March before this year. 100 mph winds yesterday right here and 100,000 people without power here in Chicago in 100 degree heat. I'm not saying that these anecdotes are evidence of global warming, but something definitely seems a little haywire.

I'm not even saying that Al Gore is right about anything, but the people who have been having such a great time ridiculing him for the last 10 years maybe owe him a little humble apology, just for being assholes. Right or wrong, if somebody says, "You're house might be on fire," you really at least ought to see if there are any flames and smoke before saying, "Oh, that's bullshit."

Re:could be eco terrorism (1)

Jetra (2622687) | about 2 years ago | (#40522987)

Yeah. People are ignorant. I was watching a documentary about spiders the other day. Some guy got bit by a black widow. Now he goes out every night to kill every single on on his property. I hate spiders as much as the next guy, but spiders are here for a reason, to keep flying insects in line, population wise.

I've been in chicago only for 3 years. In that time, I've been through that supermassive thunderstorm that had marble-hale. That was late last year, I believe. I have survived through the 100 degree heat we had the other day as well as walk through the eight feet of snow we had back in winter 2010-2011. To say that we can control this simply by ignoring it has got to be the most self-destructive act that we have ever made.

I turned off and unplugged all of my electronics on Earth Day and recycle all I can. What does everyone else do?

Re:could be eco terrorism (1, Insightful)

uninformedLuddite (1334899) | about 2 years ago | (#40524467)

To say that we can control any of this this at all has got to be one of the most egotistical beliefs that mankind has ever entertained.

Re:could be eco terrorism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40525537)

It is all part of gods grande masterplan. Humans don't need to think. God will take care of that. Who gave us consciousness by the way?

Re:could be eco terrorism (-1, Offtopic)

ravenshrike (808508) | about 2 years ago | (#40523041)

Nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, that Al Gore proposed would have done anything to significantly change humanity's effect on the ecosystem. Assuming, of course, that he's correct about the magnitude of AGW's effects. Not to mention on a significant scale your tales of the Eisenhower administration mean nothing. Let me know when wheat starts growing in Greenland.

Re:could be eco terrorism (4, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | about 2 years ago | (#40524147)

Talk about an impossible standard, and another moved goalpost. Once you get to "growing wheat in Greenland", it's far too late to even try to prevent it. We do know that the rate of glacial ice thaw has been increasing rapidly, more quickly than predicted.

Sure, there is a natural global climate cycle, but this acceleration of change is outside the usual range of typical climate cycles. Atmospheric concentrations of CO2 are twice that of any period in the last 400,000 years.

Re:could be eco terrorism (1)

uninformedLuddite (1334899) | about 2 years ago | (#40524471)

I wanted to know when some of those dreaded tropical diseases started moving northwards away from the equator. Then I found out that Siberia has had malaria outbreaks on a massive scale decades(if not centuries) ago.

Re:could be eco terrorism (4, Funny)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about 2 years ago | (#40523097)

You've got japanese beetles?

We've got this natural predator of the japanese beetle here in Australia, called the Cane Toad. Let us know if you want a few million or so.

Re:could be eco terrorism (3, Funny)

snspdaarf (1314399) | about 2 years ago | (#40523185)

Already have them in Florida. Why would we want cane toads that try to drink all our beer?

Re:could be eco terrorism (4, Funny)

uninformedLuddite (1334899) | about 2 years ago | (#40524483)

You should be thanking them. I would have thought that even cane toads would have turned their noses up at American beer.

Fire is natural you know (1, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 2 years ago | (#40523679)

People think you can do any goddamn thing you want to nature ... people dealing with unprecedented wildfires in Colorado

Look, the people of Colorado are as careful as anyone with how nature is handled.

The fires have nothing to do with that. Mix a drought (which is not uncommon in a semi-arid high desert, which is what the front range IS) and a lot of vegetation designed to be burnt (pine trees) and you have huge fires.

Yes it sucks but it's not the fault of people the forests are on fire.

Re:Fire is natural you know (4, Insightful)

demachina (71715) | about 2 years ago | (#40523903)

I think he may have been arguing that global warming and climate change might be a possible source of the record breaking heat wave and drought, and that global warming may be due to people burning fossil fuels. It is certainly a possibility though its obviously hard to prove definitively (and certain to ignite a troll fest on /. if the leftist and rightists smell the global warming blood in the water).

It is pretty well established that people did get over zealous in preventing forest fires for most of the last century and it was a really bad idea, since forests need to be burned off at regular intervals with low intensity fires. If you dont and let brush build up and trees get too dense then when they happen now they explode and are much more dangerous and destructive. Its also true that when people building houses in brush filled canyons and in dense forest they are pretty much asking for their homes to eventually burn. Putting wooden shingles on a house, also pretty much begging to lose your home to a forest fire. Not clearing trees and brush from the immediate area around your house, strike three.

The environmentalist backlash against logging has also helped contribute to forests that are too dense, especially when coupled with aggressive forest fire prevention.

I seem to recall a few months ago one researcher had a theory that the debris field in the Pacific from the tsunami from Japan was causing a significant hot spot in the Pacific and could be altering the climate this year, though that would also be hard to prove. If it were true then it would be because people built houses on a tsunami plagued coast though needless to say people don't cause tsunamis.

Re:could be eco terrorism (1)

Troed (102527) | about 2 years ago | (#40524893)

I've been alive since the Eisenhower administration and I've never seen

Extreme weather events over the last 2000 years. "Happy" reading:

"462 A.D. The Black Sea froze completely"

"An extreme weather event took place in 535-536. The effects were widespread. It caused unseasonable weather, crop failures and famines worldwide."

"680 A.D. In England, there was famine from a drought that lasted for three years."

"In 1063, the River Thames in England was frozen over for thirteen weeks. All the rivers of the continent were frozen, and even south of the Alps, the Po River in northern Italy and many other streams were blocked by ice."

"1113 A.D. In England, it was 'so hot that grain, and some forests of wood, took fire.'"

"In 1125, excessive constant daily rains the whole summer in England. Hence the most terrible famine through the whole nation on man and beast. "

http://www.breadandbutterscience.com/Weather.pdf [breadandbu...cience.com]

Re:could be eco terrorism (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 years ago | (#40526025)

"In 1125, excessive constant daily rains the whole summer in England. Hence the most terrible famine through the whole nation on man and beast.

So, you've got to go back to 1125 AD to find events this bad? Ayii!! We're all gonna die!!

Seriously, didn't the plague come shortly thereafter?

And those "extreme weather events" you list there are for year. We've got an extreme weather event that's lasted like a decade now.

Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (4, Interesting)

AaronW (33736) | about 2 years ago | (#40522657)

I won't miss eucalyptus trees. The condo complex over my back fence had one. It was constantly dropping branches in my back yard, some of them quite large. They're also a nightmare if they catch on fire [wikipedia.org] . They also tend to kill vegetation that grows under them due to the oil which drips from the leaves. They're considered an invasive species in California.

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (4, Insightful)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 2 years ago | (#40522775)

Fairly common for many species actually. Pine trees and oak trees have a similar effect. And pine trees actually want to burn. Fire is part of a pine tree's life cycle.

One thing you can say about eucalyptus is that they smell nice.

And does anyone really care what is and isn't an invasive species?

We're an invasive species. Does this look like Africa to you? What is really relevant is if you want that species there in the first place. Trees are very hard to complain about as an invasive species. They don't grow very quickly. If you see one growing in your back yard and would rather it not... cut it down with a 10 dollar saw. If you have one already in your backyard.... cutting it down might be pricy. But that's true of any tree care.

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40522873)

Invasive species upset the natural balance between native species.

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40523243)

Invasive species upset the natural balance between native species.

The "natural balance between native species" is just an intellectual construct. Before man arrrived, land bridges would form, stuff would cross and wipe out other stuff. Think of transocianic shipping as just another land bridge.

What this really boils down to is that some people think the human impact on other species should be managed one way, and some people don't think it should be managed quite so much.

In this regard, humans are most likely unique. When dinosaurs began dominating and changing ecosystems they didn't, as far as we know, contemplate whether or not they should try to preserve other species. They just ate and pooped, and probably wiped out some things.

Go back further. Oxygen? It's the toxic waste of the planet's first inhabitants.

For all we know, there's some future organism breeding now that thrives on coal ash and abandoned strip malls.

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40523939)

For all we know, there's some future organism breeding now that thrives on coal ash and abandoned strip malls.

Ben Bernanke?

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (2)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 2 years ago | (#40524627)

In this regard, humans are most likely unique. When dinosaurs began dominating and changing ecosystems they didn't, as far as we know, contemplate whether or not they should try to preserve other species. They just ate and pooped, and probably wiped out some things.

Hey there mighty brontosaurus
Don't you have a message for us?
You thought your rule would always last
There were no lessons in your past.

Fifty million years ago
They walked upon the planet so
They live in a museum
It's the only place you'll see 'em.

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40525025)

One thing that has evolved is our own lifetimes (to the consternation of rightwing evolution deniers) is a bacteria that eats NYLON. So yes, there will be some organism that eventually digests abandoned strip malls and dines on coal ash.

Enjoy.

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40523339)

Invasive species upset the natural balance between native species.

Define "natural".

Then explain what "balance" is, and why it's preferable.

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (2, Interesting)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 2 years ago | (#40523351)

go back to africa and tell me that.

or stay where ever your are which is probably not africa and stop bothering me about irrelevancies.

I'm completely with you in so far as bad species. But they're not bad because they're invasive or not local. Mosquitoes aren't good in their natural habitat. They're f'ing annoying blood sucking insects that spread diseases... everywhere.

Would I genocide mosquitoes? Absolutely. Ticks, leeches, basically any parasite, lamprays, and all sorts of other things that I'm very happy to exterminate. By all means, keep some DNA on file and possibly an isolated population in a lab... under lock and guard... the guards instructed to shoot anyone in the head that tries to release them. Not wound. Right between the eyes. Some of these species have caused MILLIONS of human deaths. Attempts to release some of them should be seen as attempted mega mass murder. You don't screw around with that. Right between the eyes.

Sound extreme? It's really not. Some of these species have killed millions of people and even amongst the ones that haven't you're dealing with a whole branch of life that isn't our friend. Doubtless I'm going to get some 'circle of life' argument about how I should respect other living things or that everything has it's place. That's a load of crap. We need certain types of life to sustain the biosphere but parasites aren't amongst them.

But what about species that are non-local that aren't bothering anyone? Leave them alone. Exactly how could a eucalyptus tree bother someone? Pollen allergies? I fail to see the problem with them.

Long story short, I don't care if a species is local or not. I care if it's a threat to my community or is irritating while serving no actual purpose. If I don't need it and it's messing with me... well, that's a problem... for it.

Amongst the many amusing failures to grasp reality are the people releasing wolves back into the American wild. This has happened a few times with the same result. The wolves are released. The wolves attack farmer's live stock. The farmers complain to the local government about the wolves. The local government tells them to suck it because the wolves are a protected species. The wolves suddenly disappear and no one can find them. Rinse and repeat.

My view on the matter is not uncommon. It's not the PC view but then the PC view is merely what people say when they're being recorded. Amongst friends and family this is the conclusion.

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (3, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40523411)

>>>Would I genocide mosquitoes? Absolutely. Ticks, leeches, basically any parasite, lamprays, and all sorts of other things that I'm very happy to exterminate.

The frog and spider population would plummet. They might even go extinct (some frogs are already near extinction). When you add or remove a species, you upset the balance. Let's take rabbits for example: They overran Australia because they had no natural predator. Rabbits everywhere.

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (1)

Livius (318358) | about 2 years ago | (#40523469)

Valid point. But I'd still make an exception for mosquitoes.

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524291)

the bats wouldn't be happy, though. Rock pigeons and common starlings I add, though.

The rabies "threat", while existant, is so emotionally overblown.

Mosquitoes suck (sic), but not as bad as deer flies and their larger brethren.

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (2)

dargaud (518470) | about 2 years ago | (#40524679)

There was a paper couple years ago by a biologist who basically said that exterminating mosquitoes wouldn't change much. His reasoning was that nothing eats mosquitoes: they are too small. They are less than 5% of a bat's diet. Although in the paper he didn't say anything about larval mosquitoes which I'd think are eaten by fish/frogs in much larger quantities than adult ones.

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (3, Insightful)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 2 years ago | (#40523699)

Nonsense.

There are plenty of other insects for them to feed upon. I'm sure somewhere there is a frog that depends upon mosquitoes but that's such a tiny portion of our ecosystem you can't even pretend it matters. Not even to that habitat.

This whole notion that if any species dies the whole system collapses is idiotic. Species die all the time... NATURALLY. And the ecosystem thrives.

Wipe out all the parasites and doubtless there will be some unintended consequences. But the price will be vastly cheaper then what we're paying with the status quo.

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (2)

onepoint (301486) | about 2 years ago | (#40524129)

I was hoping that someone would say what you said.

so let's look at the outcomes. the removal of a known threat which causes an estimate-able amount of deaths, swap that for an unknown threat due to environmental changes. I'll use as a good example wolves re-introduced back into yellowstone.
we all know that plant eating animals ( deer, moose ... ) were left a lone for 30+ years, over those years we saw overgrazing and certain plants growing while others were not taking hold. ( they were eaten ). When wolves were re-introduced to yellowstone, the parts of the park that were severely overgrazed completely changed, herds of dear/moose shrank quickly ( weak were lunch meat ). Balance is slowly being restored.

Now species do die all the time, but nature took them out slowly and found a replacement ( given I'm trying to find the replacement for some mega fauna but that's another story. ) even when the asteroid hit and wiped out everything. nature slowly replaced everything

Nature doesn't exist (2)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | about 2 years ago | (#40525665)

"but nature took them out slowly and found a replacement"

Please don't anthropomorphise "Nature". "Nature" doesn't replace anything. (And note my sig: Tennyson in 1844 knew more about evolution than a lot of educated people do today. And yes, evolution as an idea was well established before Origin was published; Charles Darwin got some of his ideas from his grandfather Erasmus.)

Seems unlikely (1)

TiggertheMad (556308) | about 2 years ago | (#40524985)

The frog and spider population would plummet.

Would they? Or would other insects just fill the space that mosquitoes were in? Nature abhors a vacuum. I think that you would just end up with frogs and spiders eating something else that had filled the ecological space.

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524185)

Are you a biologist? Do you actually know anything about ecology? I doubt it. It's not a matter of whether it's a "PC" view or not. The whole reason we have so many problems with invasive species is because idiots go around screwing with the ecosystem, like you're proposing. Mosquitoes drive the entire arctic ecosystem. They provide food for a huge number of species - lots of different birds, bats, and even other insects. Lamprey? Do you even know what the fuck lamprey are? They're hardly pests.

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 2 years ago | (#40524335)

Change anything and something dies.

And guess what? Thinks always change.

And guess what? Something always dies.

All things being equal you're threatening something that is generally going to happen regardless. All I'm suggesting is that we direct the change to favor us rather then allowing it to happen entirely randomly... and as often as not favoring the parasites.

You think the artic ecosystem loves the mosquito? Not if you're one of the many animals they feed upon. The herds actually migrate towards the ocean simply to get a little ocean breeze. It blows the insects off them a little.

Again, I'm sure if you change anything something is going to suffer. But elements of the ecosystem drop out naturally all the time. And that causes pain for different species.

that is the trade off between being a generalist and being a specialist. Generalists frequently don't do very well. They rarely thrive the way specialists thrive. But specialists are entirely dependent on one specific food source and they can't survive without it.

So the specialists thrive and out populate the generalists until their food source has a problem... and then they can possibly die off entirely. While the generalists are almost impossible to kill.

Most of the really old species on earth are generalists. Any ecosystem that depends upon a specialist is in trouble. It's going to be disrupted sooner or later. But an ecosystem based upon generalists? Bullet proof.

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (1)

tburkhol (121842) | about 2 years ago | (#40525653)

Would I genocide mosquitoes? Absolutely. Ticks, leeches, basically any parasite, lamprays, and all sorts of other things that I'm very happy to exterminate.
[...]
Sound extreme? It's really not. Some of these species have killed millions of people and even amongst the ones that haven't you're dealing with a whole branch of life that isn't our friend.

Parasites and other forms of competition kill off millions of weaker, less fit individuals, making it easier for the stronger, more fit individuals to survive and thrive. Take away the mosquitos, and we might still be stuck in the stone age. Or the Pleiocene. Evolution requires lots of death.

I hate mosquitos just as much as the next guy, but our competition with them makes us better

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (3, Insightful)

evanism (600676) | about 2 years ago | (#40522907)

"Fairly common for many species actually. Pine trees and oak trees have a similar effect. And pine trees actually want to burn."

I'd say most trees want to burn. Its a side effect of being made of WOOD.

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 2 years ago | (#40522977)

I guess you've never tried to get green wood to burn. It can be done, but it's not easy.

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40522995)

This is why I like to camp on Alnmouth beach, where coal peeks through the sand.

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (5, Informative)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about 2 years ago | (#40523119)

Eucalyptus foilage is highly flammable when green; the oil in the leaves is the thing. Fire tends to strip the tree, but leaves the acorns able to sprout. The only thing that seems to kill them here in Aus is a grub infestation followed by a small flock of rather large black cockatoos. Those birds will tear the tree completely apart; they usually fall over a day or two after the birds arrive. I've seen this happen a couple of times myself, down in our old property in Tasmania.

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (2)

Psychotria (953670) | about 2 years ago | (#40523913)

Eucalyptus foilage is highly flammable when green; the oil in the leaves is the thing. Fire tends to strip the tree, but leaves the acorns able to sprout. [...]

Acorns? I think the term you're looking for is epicormic bud [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40522801)

Old news...you're (we're) toast...

Watch the movie Home (2009)...10 years till out of control...only 8 years to go when uncontrolled methane in the arctic starts spewing into the air...

As for eucalyptus...watch the movie...where eucalyptus plantations in Indonesia, etc. have destroyed all life beneath them...:)

Toast...planetwide ignorance is leading to planetwide catastrophes which are/will worsen...sigh...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqxENMKaeCU [youtube.com]

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (1)

ravenshrike (808508) | about 2 years ago | (#40523069)

Out of curiosity, during the MWP which was recently found to have occurred in the Antarctic as well as Europe, why didn't the Greenland warming melt the Arctic and release the methane?

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (0)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about 2 years ago | (#40523137)

I think the planet will recover.

I'm a little more concerned that the immune system it develops will target us...

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (2)

jet_silver (27654) | about 2 years ago | (#40522895)

Eucalyptus trees were implicated in the spread of the Oakland Hills [wikipedia.org] firestorm. They are flammable weeds. There isn't anything except the rapid growth rate and the smell to recommend them for anything at all in the USA, though in Australia it is my understanding that various pests constrain their growth and they're useful wood (for furniture) there.

If every single eucalyptus tree in California died it would bother me not a bit except for the brief time during which they were falling down.

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524319)

They maybe in populated areas. But remember the firestorms in San Diego County a few years ago? Those native creosote bushes go up like gasoline, too.

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about 2 years ago | (#40522981)

Big thing up here in Canada 10-12 years ago and in the NE-US about 30 years ago, they started planting Japanese Lilacs, those things are invasive too. I'm still trying to get the city to remove the 4000 of the ones they planted around the city here back about 5 years ago. Frickin' idiots.

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40523035)

Agreed. The trees dont belong in the california ecosystem, they are too intrusive. if someone really did introduce these bugs, they deserve a medal from the state. its not bioterrorism if the effects are good for people and the environment. the people who introduced the TREES were inadvertent bioterrorists.

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | about 2 years ago | (#40523105)

Yeah, but the problem is that the introduced pest is a yucky insect.

If only a bunch of cute Koala Bears had been introduced to eat the California eucalyptus tress, all would be forgiven!

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (2)

BluBrick (1924) | about 2 years ago | (#40523395)

Yeah, but the problem is that the introduced pest is a yucky insect. If only a bunch of cute Koala Bears had been introduced to eat the California eucalyptus tress, all would be forgiven!

Trust me, you wouldn't think that way if you heard them snorting and grunting and growling in the middle of the night!

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (1)

Wild Wizard (309461) | about 2 years ago | (#40525043)

If only a bunch of cute Koala Bears had been introduced to eat the California eucalyptus tress, all would be forgiven!

This whole story reminds me of the Simpsons "Bart vs Australia" (I think they have an episode to cover every situation)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTdOQjmbAHY [youtube.com]

Re:Eucalyptus trees are a bio terror weapon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524401)

We've got this natural predator of the eucalyptus trees here in Australia, called the Cane Toad. Let us know if you want a few million or so.

Why do others import our eucalyptus trees (Yes they are native to Australia)? I love them but yes they drop lots of leaves, they are highly flammable and sometimes they drop branches. Another one of our many deadly species.

What about the koalas? (5, Funny)

Kittenman (971447) | about 2 years ago | (#40522665)

If the eucalyptus trees go, then California's koala bear population will also be decimated. This is dreadful news.

Re:What about the koalas? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40522787)

At least that'll take care of the rampant koala syphilis. No really.

Re:What about the koalas? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40523317)

Not to mention the Drop Bears!

Can get out of hand (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#40522695)

While controlling non-native species by introducing their homeland pests is a common practice, care must be taken that the other species don't cause harm to the native ecology. This is an operation that may not worth the risks, it wouldn't be the first time when the "control" species became even more invasive than the original one.

Exodus (5, Funny)

Nethead (1563) | about 2 years ago | (#40522697)

..what might happen if a food or crop were intentionally targeted.

The Israelites go free?

Can't figure it out (3, Funny)

PaddyM (45763) | about 2 years ago | (#40522767)

It seems like every time I go to Australia to bring back a control insect, there's another insect that's not affected by the control that appears on the loose. Almost like there's a fly on the wall in my strategy meetings. Or a bug in my luggage.

From the article, it doesn't sound like they looked at other possibilities; suppliers which typically travel from Australia to LA, and maybe declining quality standards there. Maybe these other pests were dying off because of competition from the first set of pests and once the controls are introduced, the old set of pests (continuously arriving through incompetent shippers) are able to reestablish.

But I think it's an issue well worth talking about.

Re:Can't figure it out (1)

evanism (600676) | about 2 years ago | (#40522879)

"From the article, it doesn't sound like they looked at other possibilities; suppliers which typically travel from Australia to LA, and maybe declining quality standards there.".. i recon.

Imagine the horror of finding a spare koala or crocodile in your luggage. Pesky buggers are everywhere.

Re:Can't figure it out (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40523203)

When I was 6 years-old my parents put a lizard in my milk carton I brought for lunch. When I opened it up it crawled out and ran around the cafeteria. So, I can imagine.

I guess they thought it'd be funny. These days they claim not to remember the incident. W'ever. Moral of the story is, don't have kids when you're still young and mean.

Similar story in Brazil (4, Interesting)

Stormwatch (703920) | about 2 years ago | (#40522871)

Brazil's production of cocoa was greatly reduced after an epidemic of witch's broom in the early 1990s. Rumors spoke of sabotage by foreign producers, until a left-wing militant confessed bringing fungus-infected branches from Rondônia to Bahia to destroy the political power of the "cocoa barons".

Fruit flies (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40522973)

We stop tourists returning from other countries from bringing in produce to prevent pests like non-native fruit flies from taking hold domestically. Yet is has happened. I think the most likely reason is the most obvious - tourists hide and don't declare so they can have their "harmless" contraband. But it does occur to me, that would be a frightening means of economic sabotage if even just a few "tourists" a year were to bring in a matchbox full of an invasive and destructive insect in their pocket and let them go in Imperial Valley or Bordeaux or the Chilean agricultural regions.

Re:Fruit flies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40523859)

What I find surprising is that it took so long for the parasites to arrive and become established. There's been plenty of contact between the two countries for many years, I'm kind of surprised that quarantine controls worked so well for so long.

X-Files (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40523029)

Need I say more?

Simple solution - firewood! (4, Interesting)

capt_mulch (642870) | about 2 years ago | (#40523061)

Best thing for the invasive Eucalypts is to cut them down and use them for firewood. In my experience they make the best firewood in the world, especially for outdoors dutch oven cooking and BBQs. The wood doesn't turn instantly into ash when burnt, instead they tend to form solid hot coals for a while and give an even heat. After moving to the Solomon Islands from Australia, one thing I miss is Eucalypt firewood.

Way To Think Inside The Box (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about 2 years ago | (#40523117)

A couple of weeks ago I was ear-raped by a moth. Goddamn thing flew across the room and straight into my ear. I had to go to the hospital to have the fucker removed. This wasn't a little moth either, it was at least three quarters of an inch. If it hadn't kept wiggling I probably wouldn't have realized it was in there. I was half in denial all the way over there. So I thought you know, you could make some sort of Al-Quieda ear-seeking missile with a microphone and a bit of C4, park that fucker in their current #2's ear, gather intel until it's battery's just about dead and then detonate it! But you want to eat their crops. Ok. That's good too...

Oh wait, here's another one, we're going to introduce malaria mosquitoes to your country. Still want to go with the crop thing? Mmm... all right... How much do you get paid to come up with these ideas again?

Re:Way To Think Inside The Box (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | about 2 years ago | (#40523221)

So I thought you know, you could make some sort of Al-Quieda ear-seeking missile with a microphone and a bit of C4, park that fucker in their current #2's ear, gather intel until it's battery's just about dead and then detonate it!

Forget it. We've all seen "Fifth Element" several times already.

BIOTERRORISM!!! (2)

Baseclass (785652) | about 2 years ago | (#40523187)

Timothy Paine, an entomologist at the University of California-Riverside, recently 'committed to the scientific record the idea that California's eucalyptus trees may have been biologically sabotaged, publishing an article [in the Journal of Economic Entomology] raising the possibility of bioterrorism.'

Must every act of aggression be labeled as some form of terrorism? The term certainly has lost it's potency since 9/11.

Re:BIOTERRORISM!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40523215)

"The term certainly has lost it's potency since 9/11."

Sort of like the apostrophe has lost its potency thanks to uneducated fuckwits
like you misusing it.

The government does this all the time (2)

kaldari (199727) | about 2 years ago | (#40523303)

So when the U.S. government introduces an invasive species to control another invasive species, it's called progress, but if it happens accidentally, it's called bioterrorism?? Invasive insects are introduced to the U.S. through shipping on a daily basis, thanks to NAFTA and other free-trade treaties gutting the import inspection requirements. But no one complains about that for some reason. Probably because too many people are making obscene amounts of money thanks to the relaxed regulations, and conveniently you can blame 'ecoterrorists' for the introduced bugs, so why worry?

Re:The government does this all the time (3, Informative)

kaldari (199727) | about 2 years ago | (#40523461)

It looks like at least one of the people they interviewed is more sensible:

Ted Center, an entomologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Invasive Plant Research Laboratory in Fort Lauderdale, Florida agrees. Globalization has ratcheted up the chances of importing pests and diseases from everywhere. Furthermore, he says, there are now more direct flights between Los Angeles and Australia than ever before, and pests entering the cargo holds of passenger planes need only survive fourteen or fifteen hours in order to reach California. Other destinations where eucalyptus occurs receive fewer flights or are less directly accessible, requiring connections. “In my opinion, the [Journal of Economic Entomology] paper is far too speculative,” he says.

Re:The government does this all the time (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40523483)

No. When it's by accident, it's called "accidental". When intentional, it's one of two things: agricultural sabotage (or some such), or bioterrorism. It's bioterrorism if the intent is to scare people (terrorize), with some political aim. It's agricultural sabotage if the intent is to rob people, for some economic aim.

The article said something like, "raises the specter of bioterrorism." That's muckracking speak for, "here's why this interests you." It does not, properly read, mean that what's happening is bioterrorism. I mean, this didn't come from Fox News, afterall. In which case, a Democrat pissing in the bushes would be bioterrorism.

Nazi's, post war America, and Ticks (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40523407)

The Nazi's were working on insects as weapons for years under the watchful eye of Eric Trabe. We recruited him after the war where he ran New York's Plum Island Animal Disease Center.

Right across the channel is the town of Lyme where the first people developed a strange disorder later called "Lyme Disease." Incidentally, ticks were Trabe's favorite pet project.

Re:Nazi's, post war America, and Ticks (1)

zedrdave (1978512) | about 2 years ago | (#40524633)

Nazis developed the first jet engines. Jet engines are the convenient explanation for contrails, which many suspect are in fact laced with mind-control chemicals. Coincidence? I think not!

Also, the fact-based level of your post would be greatly improved by correctly spelling the name of Erich Traub.

Re:Nazi's, post war America, and Ticks (4, Informative)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 2 years ago | (#40524657)

Right across the channel is the town of Lyme where the first people developed a strange disorder later called "Lyme Disease." Incidentally, ticks were Trabe's favorite pet project.

That does not appear to be true. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Nazi's, post war America, and Ticks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40525041)

The Nazi's were working on insects as weapons for years under the watchful eye of Eric Trabe.

And the grammar Nazis are working on insects targeting apostrophe abusers.

Insects As Weapons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40523655)

Bob
The idea is not new. Many years ago there was a story that New Zealand introduced insects into Australia that would destroy the market for apple growers. At the time there was some apple trade rivalry. There may have been either some truth to the newspaper reports or just logic out of control.

Poisoned wells (3, Interesting)

Pf0tzenpfritz (1402005) | about 2 years ago | (#40523681)

Sounds a lot like a modern day version of the old "poisoned wells" tale to me. Still good for spreading paranoia, xenophobia and hatred against "disbelievers"...

I have a vision! (3, Funny)

geekprime (969454) | about 2 years ago | (#40523689)

Of a shotgun that fires spiders, less lethal shells use wolf spiders and the lethal shells use black widows.

*shudder!*

X-Files episode? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40525491)

This reminds me of the X-files, the one with the bees carrying small pox. LOL

www.airmaxskobillige.com,nike shox barnesko (-1)

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Would we be worried if... (1)

aapold (753705) | about 2 years ago | (#40523893)

they had instead introduced marauding bands of genetically engineered koalas to devastate the eucalyptus trees?

This is nothing (2, Informative)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | about 2 years ago | (#40524043)

Every aspect of life is now theoretically weaponizable. The fact is that the number of people it takes to do very big damage to large numbers of people is trending down, has been trending down for centuries and will continue to trend down ever more rapidly.

Basically your freedom and privacy are inversely proportional to the number of people it takes to hurt large number of people in very bad ways. At one end of that scale is the lone nut with a doomsday weapon. In that world, your freedom and privacy go to zero because society will not permit that lone nut to act unobserved.

Getting more realistic doesn't really bring much comfort. A few people working to weaponize some bacterium in some way is not much better. Now we need to watch everyone who orders X from company Y (or worse , didn't) or who went to grad school for major Z (or worse, didn't) .

If you look at Ted Kaszinsky , he already understood that to hide his tracks, he had to make his own shit from everyday things found just everywhere. It's not like this type is so crazy they can't think straight and plan.

Here's an equation that describes the relationship between technology, terrorism and your privacy and freedom as you now know it.

loss of freedom . = the number of people they can do those bad things to ^ (the level of badness they can achieve ) / number of people needed to achieve bad things

So for instance,

virus writer:

number of bad people =1

number of people hurt =10,000,000

level of badness = inconvenience and some money

result- lose just a little freedom

Kazsinski:

number of bad people =1

number of people hurt =10

level of badness = death, dismemberment

result: lose no freedom

9-11 hijackers

number of bad people =19

number of people hurt =3000

level of badness = death

result - lose a lot of freedom

WWII

number of bad people = 18 million

number of people hurt = 60 million

level of badness = death

result - no permanent loss of freedom

So what we see is the three numbers interact strongly and it really takes all three approaching their bad poles for things to really change.

But that's where we're headed now.

Nothing that we've constructed either in law or human conduct or organizing principles for society has prepared us for this.

We have to expect that everything will be and somewhere right now, on paper at least, is being tried.

You don't like it when the phone companies turn over your records to the FBI , but that's the LEAST of what you have to get used to in the face of what progress in technology is going to deliver to your door. All private companies help the intelligence agencies any way they can because the key players understand what's happening. They understand the above even if not explicitly. It's not about enslaving hapless masses; it's about survival and how we're going to be able to achieve that as those three number race towards their respective poles.

No one wanted this, it's no one's fault and no one really knows what to do. Keep that in mind when you're reading tomorrow's headlines. We never evolve to wield the capabilities we are acquiring. It's no one's fault.

Really I only see one way out of this, and you're not going to like it any better than you like any other part of this. We need to genetically engineer people so they don't want to do bad things. We need to genetically engineer people so they are much less greedy, much less anti-social, much less religious, much less concerned with acquiring positions in dominance hierarchies for the purpose of monopolizing resources and access to female reproductive rights. That's what drives most of the world's badness now and throughout history. It's really just that simple.

Our genes evolved to compete fiercely for those limited resources - food, shelter, power and sex- needed to sustain the bodies that carry and pass on our genes. We're still that. We cannot continue to be that.

No political body is ever going to approve what needs to be done. You need look no further than James Inhofe and the American Republican Party generally for the exact reason why representative bodies need to deliberately excluded from this endeavor. The world's scientists and the intelligence agencies need to act on their own, certain understanding and independently of any supervisory political body and begin to do what needs to be done: acquire the knowledge that needs to be acquired and conduct the experiments that need to be conducted (what could possibly go wrong?). Really, that is what needs to be done and that's the only way it's ever going to happen, and it has to happen.

We can't go on breeding people who are effectively James Bondian type super-villains, determined and fully funded madmen setting in motion plots which will end in all our destruction. But this is exactly what we have in the persons of say, David and Charles Koch and Bjorn Lomberg and others whose minds have become little more than special purpose rationalization machines churning out narrative after narrative in order to preserve their personal stature in a reputation and power hierarchy. Ditto Bin Laden who imagined himself first as the Savior of Saudi Arabia against Hussein and then the person to reinstate the Caliphate over the entire world and bring the Great Satan America to its knees.

People are meat machines. The way these machines are currently programmed is on a collision course with the environment and on a collision course with the leverage technology is providing them. No Great Scientific Awakening on the part of the general population is going to save us from self destruction. The Christians will go on worshiping their imaginary Sky God and practicing ritualized forms of cannibalism and the greedheads will go on despoiling the earth to sustain their wealth, making large pubic donations to the New York Metropolitan Opera and Nova to sustain their reputations and getting their cocks sucked by $5,000.00 an hour whores to sustain their feeling of being sexually potent and relevant.

That is what humans are.

The stuff in this article represents what might be called The End Of History. It's the End of the social and moral calculus that we've developed as a guide to societal conduct and progress.

At the End Of History, there are no rules; the New Rules are waiting to be written by those who will dare to pick up the pen. Either those parts of our society with the understanding, the foresight, the will and the operational capability to write those new rules will do so or we're going extinct.

Hey ! Maybe we'll survive global warming, by taking the radical actions needed- there is no other way, but just the fact that a segment of our population, through their sustained denialism, has led us to the point where, actually, we can't be sure any longer if we'll make it or not irrespective of what corrective action we take now and our continued existence as a species is now officially a matter of chance and luck, indisputably proves everything that needs proving.

Enough, though not all, humans as they are now are literally incapable of dealing with modern technology so as to avoid killing us all.

Q.E.D.

The world's scientists and the world's intelligence communities should join together and begin to re-engineer human beings. They are the only ones who could do this. Politics and politicians are irrelevant and incapable, the people cannot accept even basic facts, about evolution, about global warming, about genetics, about religion that science has proven beyond any doubt.

This really is the only way things can go and therefore it's the way they will go. If I see this then tens of thousands of other people see this also even more clearly than I do. Those other people are likely to be the ones capable doing it. They will therefore do it and as our situation becomes more desperate in the coming years, their determination and certainty in the rightness of what they're doing will only grow. Essentially as any of those numbers go up, your freedom goes down and if all three hit somewhere near 1 As that trend accelerates, what you call your freedom and privacy will have to be diminished. If it only takes five guys and a small biolab to kill millions, then there's not much room for - nor will there be a desire to permit- much privacy. This is where civilization is going through no fault of anyone.

Re:This is nothing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524353)

Melodramatic much?

There is no threat you mentioned which can realistically affect more than 1% of the population, except by inconveniencing them,like by making them move to higher ground or something (in the case of agw). Most of the threats, like the nut with a nuke, affect fewer than 0.01%. And they're pretty unlikely.

Exactly how are intelligence agencies and scientists going to secretly genetically reengineer 7 billion living people? There probably ain't no way to do that.

Oh right. Spread a virus which kills them all, and replace them with their betters. Or hey, dont replace them. Congrats, you've become the monster that you fear!

Biological antiestablishmentism (2)

beachdog (690633) | about 2 years ago | (#40524211)

This event needs better language.

Bioterrorism does not fit because the introduction of eucalyptus pests is not the generation of fear in human beings for the purpose of starting a war or causing political instability.

Eucalyptus has become an established plant in California. The word "established" catches the idea that grown eucalyptus trees in some settings provide shade and screening benefits. They have attained the status of having a social value.

The word "antiestablishmentism" catches the idea that the introduced pests are launching another kind of destruction.

About 140 feet away from my house grow several 240 foot tall Eucalyptus trees. They are shallow rooted plants on a steam bank. Whenever we have a storm, I always worry about which way the wind is blowing. The trees also block my satellite dish, block direct sun and plug up my roof gutters.

Yeah, biological antiestablishmentism at work. Don't infect these please. Can't afford the consequences.

   

Re:Biological antiestablishmentism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40525335)

The use eucalpytus and several of its close relatives means that your area must have one heck of a fresh water supply. These tree use great amounts of water and it is usually more expensive not buying a pamphlet about the problem.

Here we go again... (1)

Zelaron (1358987) | about 2 years ago | (#40524631)

Paine argues that foreign insect pests have been deliberately introduced in the Golden State, in hopes of decimating the state's population of eucalyptus

Timothy Paine seems awfully knowledgeable of these terrorists' specific goal of removing 1/10 of the population of Eucalyptus trees.

Aww.. I was thinking of something more exciting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524651)

Like Shino Aburame (from naruto):

http://naruto.wikia.com/wiki/Shino_Aburame

Oblig. Simpsons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40525763)

And the beautiful part is, once winter rolls around the gorillas simply freeze to death!

Republicans? (1)

windcask (1795642) | about 2 years ago | (#40525969)

Why the fuck is this story tagged "Republicans?" A presumption that Republicans must have a hand in anything environmentally destructive?

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