commentary: The Spiraling Impact of Alien Invasion
Martin G. Collins
Given 12-Jan-13; Sermon #1138c; 12 minutes
In the United States, we have entire industries, such as the movie, video game, and book industries, that make stories of alien invaders their bread and butter. Great emphasis is given to the belief that an alien invasion will come. What if aliens arrived as stowaways or were brought deliberately, and others were so tiny that nobody noticed them until it was too late? What would be their impact on us?
What if they became a nightmare by sickening the natives with bacteria or viruses, by killing and devouring communities, and then stealing their homes? Would you believe the alien invasion is happening right now? Does it sound farfetched? I see you are smiling, so you do not believe me. But one is happening.
Some think illegal immigration of people from other countries is the only alien invasion occurring today, but they are wrong. It may be happening in your garden or the forest behind your house. It is definitely happening on the farms in the U.S. They are affecting our food supply; it’s just a matter of how much.
The species that people bring to new habitats where they spread uncontrollably is ousting endemic wildlife and becoming major pests. Invasive species are "any species including its seeds, eggs, spores, or other biological material capable of propagating that species, that is not native to that ecosystem." Their introduction does, or is likely to, cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health. Invasive species have a huge impact worldwide. In some countries, the cost is astronomical, although many costs are indirect.
Let me give you some examples of alien invaders—invasive species—that are derogatorily affecting the U.S.
Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus): Black-and-white striped carrier of West Nile virus, dengue, St. Louis encephalitis, and a severe and persistent viral disease of the joints called chikungunya. It is now a major worry in the U.S. The insect is believed to have landed in shipments of old car tires that retained pockets of moisture, enabling it to survive the sea trip from Asia.
Another invader, feral swine, are the offspring of European imports that escaped and bred in the wild. They number in the millions and cause an estimated $8 million per year in property damage. Weighing over 300 lbs., they have a better sense of smell and are faster than domesticated pigs. The largest population is in Texas, but these heavyweights have been found everywhere from California to Maine.
Asian carp were originally imported to clean algae in commercial catfish ponds in Arkansas in the 1970s. They quickly escaped and migrated up the Mississippi River as far as the Great Lakes. They now threaten commercial and game fishing in the Great Lakes. Asian carp grow up to 4 feet long and 100 lbs. and devour the plankton that native fish need to survive. While jumping out of the water, the “flying” silver carp have even broken people’s noses.
The Zebra mussel is a small striped freshwater mollusk, native to southern Russia and the Caspian, which has spread to parts of the U.S. by hitchhiking a ride from Europe in the ballast water of ships. Mussel infestations are a major cost for power stations because they clog coolant pipes.
Another is the verroa mite, which is wiping out honey bees that pollinate many crops.
Here is an invasive species most of us are very familiar with, especially here in the South. Fire ants are a variety of stinging ants with over 285 species worldwide. Although most fire ant species do not bother people and are not invasive, Solenopsis invicta, known in the U.S. as the red imported fire ant (or RIFA) is a viciously invasive pest.
They entered the U.S. in the late 1930s aboard cargo ships from tropical South America. The cargo ships arrived in Mobile, Alabama, and fire ants immediately migrated throughout the United States. They have been reported as far north as Delaware and as far west as California, and they are continuing to migrate north to this day.
An average colony contains 250,000 workers, hundreds of reproductive males and reproductive females, and one queen. In addition to single-queen colonies, many have multiple queens, which increase the number of mounds per acre. Queen ants can live seven years or more, while worker ants live approximately five weeks. A newly mated queen can lay a dozen eggs. When they hatch seven to 10 days later, the queen feeds the larvae; but a queen fed by worker ants can lay 800 eggs per day, which emerge as adults 9 to 15 days later.
Between 30% and 60% of people living in fire ant-infested areas are stung each year. A fire ant's sting burns, blisters, and may cause nausea, vomiting, disorientation, dizziness, asthma, and shock. In sensitive victims, the sting may cause anaphylactic shock or even death. Unlike many other ants, which bite and then spray acid on the wound, fire ants only bite to get a grip and then sting (from the abdomen) and inject a toxic alkaloid venom.
In the U.S., the FDA estimates that more than $5 billion is spent annually on medical treatment, damage, and control in RIFA-infested areas. And as if that is not enough, the ants cause approximately $750 million in damage annually to agricultural assets, including veterinarian bills and livestock loss, as well as crop loss.
As is true in some cultures today, the appearance of certain animals is regarded as an omen in the Bible. Frequently in Scripture, these animals are ones whose night-time calls seem to be messages from the spirit world. For example, owls, hyenas, frogs are mentioned in this context. Or, these animals seem to be acting as messengers (crows, ravens, bats are mentioned in this context). Some animals already possess negative associations with death (snakes and vultures are mentioned in this context).
This negative association is seen here in the U.S. in the Burmese python, which was first found in Florida's Everglades swamp in 1979, where it may have been abandoned by a pet owner. The Burmese python took only 21 years to become an established species there. Lacking natural predators, the snake gorges itself on native birds, deer, bobcats, and other small to large animals.
Current estimate of its population run as high as hundreds of thousands. Recently, University of Florida scientists examined a record 17-foot, 7-inch specimen that had 87 eggs. That certainly sends shivers up my spine; I'm sure it does yours. And that's the retirement are for many of the Baby Boomers and those before them who retired.
So the U.S. is increasingly under the curse of an alien invasion of sorts. Why is this happening to the U.S.? What has America done to deserve this initial nightmare?
In America and other Israelitish countries, we are experiencing the beginning of national sorrows. King Solomon saw the tendency of the Israelites to reject God during his time, so he asked the Eternal to forgive His people when they confess and repent of their sins, which were causing their problems and their curses.
I Kings 8:37-40 When there is famine in the land [of Israel], pestilence or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers [or any alien invader]; when their enemy besieges them in the land of their cities; whatever plague or whatever sickness there is; whatever prayer, whatever supplication is made by anyone, or by all Your people Israel, when each one knows the plague of his own heart, and spreads out his hands toward this temple: then hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and act, and give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart You know (for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men), that they may fear You all the days that they live in the land which You gave to our fathers.
We can echo that prayer of King Solomon about our own people today in this nation and other Israelitish nations around the world.
The phrase, “when each one knows the plague of his own heart,” refers to when each one perceives his own sinfulness, and recognizes his own sufferings as divine chastisements and sin as their cause. The cause of the curse is sin and the essential necessity is forgiveness, although divine instruction is also requested and the fear of God is required, as Solomon said.
The Bible names many animals simply because the mere mention of them evokes fear. Their fierce behavior is likened to the dealings of God, enemies, or wicked individuals. But this is not the kind of fear King Solomon refers to here. This fear of God involves repentance, reverence, submission and love, which eventually the Israelites will accomplish.
God promises that if we fear Him, He will be a Father to us and we will be His sons and daughters. The apostle Paul added, “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
The aliens have begun to arrive! Without the fear of God, it does not bode well for the U.S.
May God help all of Israel to fear Him and avoid the invasion of even greater and more destructive invasive species.