The Author’s Main Argument on Pests


TheAuthor’s Main Argument on Pests

TheAuthor’s Main Argument

Themain argument is that there are absolute ethical justifications ofevery decision or action in a coupled system. The author observesthat revenge effects are likely to be the outcome of the decisionstaken to control pests or mitigate environmental or health hazards.Revenge effects, as the author connotes, are the unintended outcomesof an action that contradict the intentions and expectations of theactor. Revenge effects often lead to other problems that seem to bean exacerbation of the earlier state that was on target ofelimination or mitigation. As a result, policy makers and thosecharged with the responsibility to implement policies grapple withtwo challenges: the initial problem and the problem that degeneratesas a revenge effect of the interventions(Zimdahl,2012). In some instances, the original problem could be solved, butthe revenge effects degenerate into an even bigger problem that maynever be completely resolved through scientific or policy means butmanaged. Hence, the author provides different examples of revengeeffects that occurred as a result of different courses of actiontaken to control pests, weeds, and or pollution. A discussion of theexamples provided in the chapter manifest ecosystems such oceans andagricultural lands as coupled systems that have common features.

Anincrease of pests within the human habitat is an example of a revengeeffect. As a response to environmental hazards such as oil spills,human activity can lead to the growth and spread of pests. Theauthor gives an example of John Bhalzar writing on LosAngeles Timeswhere he observed that, the Exxon Valdez oil spilled was a perfectexample of a revenge effect. While the spill caused massive deaths toa lot of seas birds, the fact that ships get some many rats toislands is also a source of many other challenges. The rats haveturned out to be the most deadly predators of the same sea birdswhose existence was threatened by environmental hazards such as theoil spill. As sea manufacturers found technologies in ship buildingthat reduce the possibility of oil spills, they made it even morepossible for pests such as mice to be transported to differentislands and coastlines. The long term revenge effect is that the ratsincrease to the extent that they impose another burden of controllingthe predatory effects to sea creatures such as birds that are vitalfor the oceanic ecosystem.

Thesecond example of a revenge effect is the growth of agriculturalproduction that has been improving since the agrarian and industrialrevolutions. The need to increase production meant that farmers hadto replace the natural plant community with a specific crop leadinginto a uniform artificial habitat that encouraged the spread oforganisms that fed on that single plant. At the same time, it isalso encouraged the extinction of organisms that depended on theexistence of the natural plant community. Organisms that werepreviously unrecognized as pests in the natural plant communitybecame pests due to the immense growth. The author cites an exampleof the potatoes that were introduced in the Southwest of America. Theuniform species led to the growth and spread of the Colorado potatobeetle as a serious pest that became difficult to control.

Thethird example of a revenge effect is the efforts by European andNorth American countries to build long-lasting harbors usingballastas opposed to dry bulk building materials such as sand,cobblestones, lead, and bricks. While the step ensured that moreships could dock on the shores, the revenge effect was the spread ofzebra mussels. Like many marine organisms that spread as a result ofthe change of the materials to build harbors, the zebra musselsspread across the Atlantic to the North American harbors. The quickspread was due to the periodic discharge of ballast in the oceanwaters that caused a rapid exchange of small seas organisms. Forexample, a harbor in Oregon is home to 367 non-native species of seaorganisms. The zebra mussels are responsible for the destruction ofmillions of fish. As the author notes, employees of fisheries couldbe reducing their future catch by letting more mussels into naturalwaters.

Lastbut not least, the human efforts to live in clean and healthy homesalso have revenge effects. The hazardous effects of the comfortsthat human seek may not have anything to do with pests and bacteria,but a cause of other diseases such as asthma, which are just asdeadly as those transmitted by pathogens. For example, wall-to-wallcarpeting was found to be the cause of installer risk arthritis forthe technicians installing it and childhood asthma among children whoinhabit carpeted houses. Furthermore, children staying cleanhouseholds were at a greater risk of polio than their age-mates whoinhabit comparatively dirtier environments. High living standards, asthe English physician,Michael Bostock, would later find, increase therisk of hay fever. Indeed, it is ironical that dirty and messyenvironments tend to improve immune system of children than cleanenvironments.

Theassertions of the author also emphasize the common features of acoupled or complex system. According to the normalaccident theoreticalperspectives, tight coupling is one of the features of thatpre-dispose system to unforeseen accidents(Glassman,1973).Based on the author’s point of view, oceanic ecosystems andplantations typically embody tightly coupled systems. Almost all thefactors that constitute these ecosystems are interrelated. Forexample, the seas planktons supply oxygen to sea organisms such aszebra mussels. The mussels, on the hand, depend on fish as food.This explains why the phenomenal growth of zebra mussels threatensthe future to fish in natural waters. The threat extends to thenatural aquatic ecosystem. Each component of a tightly coupledsystem has tight relationship with the others and therefore, a slightchange in one of the components affects the state of the others. Furthermore, tightly coupled systems have an irritable response toany perturbations. The response may, sometimes, degenerate into anuncontrollable disaster. From the author’s example of revengeeffects, the farmer’s decision to concentrate on the massproduction of preferred crops leads to the destruction of somecomponents of the natural plant community while nourishing somepests(Perrow,2011). At first, the insects and weeds that multiply in number tobecome pests were negligible components of the ecosystem. However,the extinction of other components and the sudden promotion ofsupportive components cause a surge that elevates them to pests. Unfortunately, some of the damaging sensitivities of in a coupledsystem end up being completely irreparable and the only option is tomanage their effects to the system.


Glassman,R. B. (1973). Persistence and loose coupling in livingsystems.Behavioralscience,18(2), 83-98.

Perrow,C. (2011). Normalaccidents: Living with high risk technologies.Princeton University Press.

Zimdahl,R. L. (2012).Agriculture`s ethical horizon.Elsevier.