The Hidden Costs of War: A Letter From the ESA President

March 4, 2022

Hello fellow ESA members-

The brutality of war is easy to see and understand, whether it is the current unjust and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, the recent overthrow of Afghanistan by the Taliban, or other actions across human history. For many of us, we have had the privilege of living lives not directly touched by war, merely watching our social media feeds fill with anguished posts from the other side of the world. Others of us, though, are living and working within active war zones. For all of us, we may feel angst and helplessness about our inability to act in any meaningful and productive way when new conflicts arise on the global stage.

Science is considered by some to be above politics, but it is indeed political in many aspects, not least of which the way it has been funded and supported over its history. Like so many scientific societies, the Entomological Society of America stands in support of science, exploration, and the preservation of our collective natural history. War upends that. As armed forces roll further into Ukraine and the bombardment of several major metropolitan centers continues, we fear for our colleagues, friends, and family who are in harm's way, and we wish for a peaceful resolution to this conflict to be found soon.

Beyond human suffering, war also creates potential destruction of natural habitat, scientific infrastructure, and museums. The insect collections at universities in Lviv, Kharkiv, Kyiv, and elsewhere in Ukraine are but one example of the cultural and intellectual treasures at risk. When this conflict ends, the diverse Ukrainian scientific community will need the world's help to rebuild lives, labs, and research groups and to restore their lost or damaged libraries and collections.

Scientific collaboration is a form of soft power. ESA has historically been agnostic about borders—indeed, our motto is "Sharing Insect Science Globally"—and today we encourage the use of our scientific soft power. If you have collaborators in Ukraine or elsewhere who are affected, please check in on them. Ask if and how you can help. And I echo the call to please directly support these and other organizations responding to the emerging humanitarian crisis in Ukraine:

Hopefully, scientific collaboration can help to knit the wounds caused by this, as well as past, conflict.


Jessica Ware, Ph.D.
President, Entomological Society of America