There will be an environmental impact, but it will be from hundreds of millions of humans not getting malaria and climbing their way out of property, not from the lack of mosquitoes in the ecosystem. It's still a significant problem, but our current solution of "let all the poor people die" is not a good one.
I'm not objecting. I think we should eradicate the mosquito. But as someone who has worked for the government (albeit a different branch) I know that bureaucrats are not being evil or heartless when they don't allocate funds for necessary work that falls outside of their mandate: they could go to jail for misallocation of taxpayer funds. So whose mandate is this?
Which bureaucrat has gone to jail for making any decision of this sort? The BLM sold ~1700 protected wild horses to a slaughterhouse a few years ago, and I don't think anyone was even reprimanded. EPA allowed 11 million litres of contaminated, toxic wastewater to pollute the a river, and no disciplinary action was taken (that I know of), even though it seems this would be negligence (or a criminal offense) if a private party had done it.
Horses were native to North America, and existed on the continent before humans arrived; they were probably wiped out by said humans. These 'giant ungulates' have much the same natural predators as bison and deer, which also happen to be 'giant ungulates', but whose presence I do not believe you would object to.
The "horses" you're talking about were a different species, they were much smaller, they disappeared 12,000 years ago, and their predators included Smilodon and dire wolves. Environmental conditions have changed since then. The feral horses I'm talking about descend from long-domesticated stock of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. They are larger and more robust than typical deer. They inhabit desert country that currently doesn't have gray wolves and has only a tiny population of cougars. These two are really the only predators that could take down feral horses on a consistent basis, and they don't control feral horse populations in these areas. The vegetation in these areas is continually degraded by the presence of feral horses, which harms many actually wild species. Bison are not a factor because these areas are too hot and arid.
My objections to feral horses are not philosophical. If they occupied a sustainable niche in these environments I'd be happy. That just isn't the case. For more information about the mustang as it currently exists, I recommend the movie Unbranded, currently on Netflix. That movie sets up some sort of fake conflict between feral horses on BLM land vs private cattle on that land. It's true that horses' dentition means a single horse damages plants more than a single cow does. It's also true that neither domesticated animal should be present on much of this sensitive wild desert land in anything close to their current numbers.
Bison have the same issues with overpopulation and overgrazing, and they're being allowed to roam outside of Yellowstone again soon, which is making people nervous. They're destructive, dangerous, and carry diseases transmissible to other cattle, and they've been underculled in recent years, so no one is sure what's going to happen.
So you hear things where the people are the bad guys, but that doesn't make the problems for people living around these animal populations go away. It's a common oversight by people from (sub)urban areas; because they live in world built by and for humans, they forget they're only a relatively few miles in any direction from unforgiving wilderness.
The proper solution is to encourage hunting. The idea of "deer season" is crazy; they should be hunted continuously. To the extent that it is safe, this should be allowed in suburban neighborhoods and city parks.
I wouldn't be too concerned about horses when deer are already a much much bigger problem.
You did say it goes unpunished but having charges filed is a step forward.
Thus, almost nothing is ever done.
Hence, you see epidemics of prosecutorial misconduct, for example. Prosecutors go after people they know (or reasonably suspect) to be innocent, withholding exculpatory evidence, etc., just to score the credit of more convictions. Such people ruining the lives of innocent people are almost never (and I really that - it approaches zero) prosecuted themselves.
you mean invasive wild horses, don't you ? the ones that were brought here by western conquistadors ?
The opposition to the Oxitec project spout the most depressing anti-science nonsense.
That's the spirit.
Obviously this would be a major violation of the democratic process, but I feel like the utilitarian ends here justify the means. Should an individual have the power to take a global decision like this? Probably not, but this action is needed because the current GMO debate is so bogged down in unmovable, politically entrenched positions.
The environmental and social justice NGOs who campaign against this technology may be doing the world one of the greatest environmental dis-services we’ve ever seen. Biology is the ultimate sustainable technology, it’s crazy that environmental groups are opposing it’s use so strongly.
> Preventing disease, including immunization services
This seems to fall under that. xD
Here's a list.
Fuck the mosquito.
For example look at the phenomena of keystone species. If you remove starfish from a beach, the mussels will take over and the rest of the tidepool animals get wiped out. The reason is that the starfish prefer eating mussels and so maintain a balance. Unless you really know the ecosystem, it is hard to tell what is a keystone species that completely changes things.
An introduced species is easier. Unless it is in the same ecological niche as a native, there is no possibility that it is a necessary part of the balance.
Unfortunately, mosquitoes are likely to have a significant ecological role. They have preferred targets. Their role as a disease vector affects what population density those targets can have. Wipe out the mosquitoes, and you don't know what will happen to that ecosystem.
That said, I've been bitten by enough mosquitoes that I'm willing to risk it...
The methods discussed in the article can be targeted on a per species basis. The action could be limited to mosquito species that prefer to target humans.
(the sterile male method is already being used)
But to explain a bit of the reasoning, as I understand it, invasive species are considered harmful to ecosystems because they tend to throw them out of equilibrium. If you introduce something to an environment with no natural predators or other environment feedback loops to constrain population growth, the newly introduced species has a field day, for a bit, until it kills off whatever it feeds on. Since ecosystems are inherently deeply interconnected things, the boom-bust cycle causes all sorts of problems.
Now maybe a new equilibrium is eventually "better" than it was before, but that, I think, is the real arbitrary human value judgment. Observing that introducing a new species throws existing systems out of whack isn't a value judgement - it accurately describes what happens.
If I'm understanding your comment about the rate of change, I think you're talking about drift between equilibria.
Asking about "too fast" is where the human value judgement comes in. Which isn't invalid, it is just human-centric and far from the whole picture. Stating that introducing an invasive species can destroy the existing ecosystem is a statement of fact without judgement. It is just an observation of reality.
Typically zoologists, botanists, and other biologists who study local ecosystems and determine the damage done by invasive species.
Construing this as a human concept doesn't make it arbitrary - anthropogenic impact on the environment is important because we rely on our environment for survival as a species. Damage isn't limited to just a less biological diversity, it can and has stretched into agriculture and human production.
And back on topic - Kill 'em all - native, invasive, makes no difference. As I read the expert concensus, after eradication the likelihood of some edge case eco-dependency being revealed should be vanishingly small, whereas the status quo allows millions of homo sapiens to be sickened and or killed.
That seems like easy math to me.
NB: I'm a Southerner (Peach state) so I'll admit I carry a strong, but well earned, hatred of the vile creatures.
Claiming that mass extinction of all mosquitoes from the ecosystem is a bullet the environment can take is another matter.
To your second point: eliminating all blood-feeding mosquitoes is the most radical proposal I've ever encountered, and this is a small subset of all mosquitoes (itself a small subset of Culicidae). I've never seen it compellingly demonstrated that these mosquitoes have an irreplacable role in any ecosystem, but there's much we don't grasp that an incremental and cautious approach seems wise.
Ecosystem-wise, let's not forget mosquitoes and their diseases are as much threat as they are content. Hawaii didn't have mosquitoes until the 19th century, they did a number on native bird populations. Mosquitoes negatively affect any species they feed on, not just humans.
Countless animals rely on mosquitoes as a valuable food source. And before someone brings up the tired "mosquito predators all eat things besides mosquitoes" argument, people eat food besides grains. It doesn't mean we wouldn't still be 100% fucked if rice and wheat went extinct overnight.
Edit: well, I read that article poorly. Sorry!
A summary would be releasing sterile males and gene drives.
I place more value on the well being of humanity than I do on that of the rest of the world. In general, I value the well being of the world as a whole, but mostly because it's beneficial to humanity. If we eliminate ourselves, there can be no benefit to humanity--so no, I am not up for that as well.
In this specific case, I don't place any intrinsic value in the life of a mosquito. To me, the only factor in whether it lives or dies should be how much harm or benefit it brings to humanity.
And Hitler didn't place any intrinsic value in the life of a Jew.
I just don't think it's ok to eliminate a species. Intentional extinction of any species is not ok with me, even if it is a mosquito.
Other than that reply, I'm going to ignore your Hitler comment.
How much intrinsic value do you place on the life of a mosquito? Would you die to save all mosquitoes? To save half of all mosquitoes? A million mosquitoes? What would you sacrifice to save the life of 1 mosquito?
>I just don't think it's ok to eliminate a species. Intentional extinction of any species is not ok with me, even if it is a mosquito.
Do you value humans more than mosquitoes?
Would you eliminate mosquitoes if it meant saving the human race? What if it meant saving half the human race? Saving a billion people? A few million a year?
How about viruses? Do you think we should reintroduce smallpox to the wild?
Maybe you don't consider viruses to be truly alive, so how about bacteria? Are you opposed to eliminating the bacteria that causes anthrax?
How about a more complex lifeform? What are your thoughts on eliminating malaria parasites?
The GP may well have done so, but most extreme proposals are to eliminate parts of the genuses Aedes, Anopholes, and Culex - together about 2% of the genetic diversity of the family Culicidae.
>Countless animals rely on mosquitoes as a valuable food source.
I'd be interested in seeing some concrete evidence that this is true; I've looked unsuccessfully. Seems to me that there are a few hyperspecialized predators, but generally mosquito population dynamics are too unpredictable for this to arise.
I found that amusing, and carried on in kind.
For example, one of the popular techniques is releasing genetically modified mosquitoes that are sterile. The problem is we don't know what could happen if/when these modified genes spread into the wider environment
It's a very serious concern, whether or not eradicating mosquitoes will introduce more severe problems
(Genuine question! I don't know what the risk is)
I think the better option (also in the article) is to release engineered males that result on male only offspring. Eventually you run out of females and the species dies off.
This is a double win, since male mosquitos don't bite animals.
The problem is we don't know what happens after/when we introduce those genes into the environment. Humans are spreading the gene by releasing the modified mosquitoes - not them having offspring.
Of course that could also happen in the wild with some good 'ol cosmic rays and no human intervention.
Pickup by virus or other microorganism. Transposons.
I don't know how this will be received. I don't even know how I feel about it. But someone has to ask the tough questions.
Is it evolutionarily prudent to go about saving people who can't save themselves?
our current solution of "let all the poor people die" is not a good one.
I don't think that is our "current solution," the lives of many of the world's "poor" have gotten immeasurably better, health and material wise, since contact with Europeans.
Prior to outside contact sub-Saharan Africans didn't have the wheel, written language, a calendar, buildings greater than 1-story, any mechanical devices, domesticated animals, ...
Efforts against malaria, and for clean water are ongoing. Iodised salt does wonders. The list goes on... I don't know how you got in your mind your "current solution."
The question you should be asking is how we can accept that so many people are unable to save themselves because of actions we (developed world) have taken. Both recently and in the past.
The developed world (mainly western) has inflicted some atrocities on the other parts but that is not what you trying to picture here. There were countless examples of even the tauted-to-be-benevolent tribal people (e.g. African) attacking and trying to wipe out other tribes throughout the world history.
Alas, currently it has become fashionable to put the entire blame on developed western world. This is propaganda (the one that Marxists and communists also love to spread).
I am not a westerner but I do acknowledge many great deeds done by the westerners in the other parts of the world. Internet, electricity, railways, trucks, roads, aeroplanes, mobile-phones, project Gutenberg, concrete, internet archive, Wikipedia, better agriculture practices, agro machines: take your pick. Also add to that the recent initiatives like MIT OCW.
These things which the western world has given to the entire world there is no parallel such benevolent behaviour in the human history. I am grateful to the developed world for such acts of courage and rising above one's own good and one's own religious sentiments.
I am an Asian, and I do know how mean and malevolent our own people had been and have been even now. Countless massacres and oppressive practices by the Islamists and communists and other tribes and groups.
Personally for me, the projects like Internet, internet archive, Wikipedia and OCW have been so beneficial that I cannot imagine myself educating me without them at such a low cost.
BTW, evolution is a complex phenomena but social structures are also important in overall progress of the society. The western developed societal structure is the best societal structure as of yet.
W.r.t. this it is no wonder, for many people here (including me), the western world seems like heaven.
Why in the world would you think that? We're still made of genes aren't we? We still sexually reproduce don't we?
because of actions we (developed world) have taken
Stark differences existed between the continents long before colonisation. Stark differences exist in areas that were never colonised.
Some areas that were colonised are now thriving.
As much as we like to flatter ourselves, we are not the cause of all the world's problems.
Nor is the constant haranguing of people who have nothing to do with events decades and centuries past of benefit to anybody.
Let's consider biology. Physics and chemistry constrain biological processes and systems, for sure. But the number of distinct proteins based on the same set of amino acids, for example, is arguably unlimited (or at least, huge). Selection may favor one protein over another, and yet have virtually no impact on amino acid structure and diversity. Let alone on atoms, nucleons, quarks, etc.
The same applies to societies and cultures vs peoples.
Physics is just emergent properties of ... (math?).
Chemistry is just emergent properties of physics.
Biology is just emergent properties of chemistry.
It's turtles, all the way.
Do we actually understand Mosquitos role in the planet's eco system?
The real question is how certain do we have to be about their role before we decide the gamble is worth it?
In this thread you see wealthy westerners complaining that mosquitos are a nuisance. In many parts of the world they are holocaust-scale killers. It gets to an age old question re: the precautionary principle, and a lot of philosophers have spent a lot of time reasoning about it. No one has a generalizable answer.
Which is likely to cause more ecological damgage:
1) Wipe out two (of over 3,500) species of mosquito
2) Spray poisons indiscriminately, wiping out many different species of insect, both mosquitos and non-mosquitos?
Also interesting, I thought Intellectual Ventures was only a patent troll, I didn't know they did actual research work as well.
The link-bait title is wrong. No one is seriously talking about eliminating all mosquitos. There's discussion of eliminating two (two) of the over 3,500 species of mosquito, specifically those that carry horrible human diseases.
Maybe you should try reading the article, rather than just the title?
Their impact as a food source would be negligible.
Before they were introduced by sailing ships, its not like the bug-eating animals did not have enough bugs to eat.
There’s little evidence, though, that mosquitoes form a crucial link in any food chain, or that their niche could not be filled by something else.
We wipe species off the face of the earth regularly for as little benefit as increasing the land available for soy farming in the Amazon; averting a holocaust per decade seems like a no-brainer when measured on that scale.
Remember human population fertility control effort performed by the US under cover of humanitarian aid in Central Africa less than 30 years ago?
As long as there are no drastic effects on the ecosystems involved, (local) extinction of one species is fine. It happens in nature rather regularly, e.g. due to epidemics.
We, the humans, can exert evolutionary pressure to fill the niche of virus-bearing mosquitoes with other species that don't have this trait. The nature will deliver. We can even help by introducing other species, well-known species that could replace the mosquitoes which are going to be exterminated in a more or less controlled way.
Humans (especially first world-ers) have become (somewhat rightfully so) paralyzed with fear about doing anything at all in the environment.
Our 20th century hubris lead us to think that we could fully understand and control our biosphere with unfortunate consequences, but there was a huge dose of optimistic humanism that went along with it. Smallpox was a good, good thing to eradicate.
Someday we will be able to exercise that measured control successfully. We'll probably have to to survive long term on earth no matter how many low-flush toilets we put in. I'm starting to wish to see some of that optimism again and a world without malaria might be just the kind of small step we need to get our mojo back.
Neither would killing of the last few panda (stupid, useless animal), but we wouldn't actually do it. With mosquitoes, do to their large numbers, it would seem like a bit of a gamble. If we're wrong it would be hard to undo killing all the mosquitoes.
But that probably won't be necessary. Mosquitoes are too successful to be that easily wiped out. Probably best we can hope for is to get rid of 80-90% of them.
ps: the only time where humans destroying something made me happy was smallpox.
Let's kill all of the mosquitos because we find their presence unpleasant. Well, that's done and...oh, shit. Turns out there was a value to mosquitos after all. Anyone think to save some of that DNA?
Now, getting rid of all of them might not be the smartest idea: it carries plenty of risk, but to say that they are just unpleasant is a major understatement.
Mosquitos occur world-wide, and even flourish in many climates where rates of infection from mosquito-borne diseases are relatively low. As an example, 90% of deaths from Malaria occur in sub-Saharan Africa, and even there, the likelihood of death from infection is radically lower for western visitors than for locals.
These diseases are largely a result of poverty and poor access to healthcare, not of mosquitos.
It seems that at least some of the reason why malaria is so prevalent in sub-Sahara Africa has to do with poor housing, poor management of drainage / sewers, and poor roads.
I'm not ruling out eliminating mosquitoes per se, but the United States and Europe managed to largely eliminate malaria in the 1930s-1940s without eliminating mosquitoes. So before I'd start advocating the elimination of entire subsets of species, I'd ask how the US and Europe were successful in their efforts, and wonder why we can't apply those lessons to the rest of the world. Maybe the money spent in targeting the elimination of mosquitoes (which cause a lot of problems) would be better spent in general health and sanitation (the lack of which also causes a lot of problems), for instance.
I'm all for releasing CRISPR on the worst species of mosquitos though. And ticks. They can't serve any function other than killing a few persons each year due to TBE.
Why does there have to be a region in permanent squalor? Why can't every place on earth where civilization exists be a decent place for humans to live, with peace, opportunity and sanitation?
But ... back down to earth. Since we can't fix that larger problem, at least maybe we can stop malaria by killing all the mosquitoes.
Seems to me that good second-world sanitation might alleviate it. But third world countries lack the sanitation and hence suffer Malaria. Seems the problem is political/social.
Coincidentally, there are quite many areas in Sweden were it is impossible to go outside in the summer without mosquito nets, and it is worsening.
Mosquitoes do exist in Europe; they don't spread malaria because it isn't there to spread, and it isn't there to spread because of effective healthcare.
(Europe isn't a great example as the mosquito population is not exactly high, which I guess is climate-related, but the above is also true of parts of the developed world where their populations are higher)
With CRISPR and gene drive, it changes from "fucking hard" to "trivial", so it is not only likely to change, it's already changed.
The kind of hubris displayed here almost certainly belies deep ignorance. Please, doctor, tell us how trivial editing DNA is.
DDT was the "perfect" mosquito killer, as well. It didn't last - resistance inevitably follows these attempts in wild populations.
So your argument is that it can't be done because no one has done it?
No one has released gene drive systems to the wild, but there is every reason to believe that it will work fine, and no credible reason to believe that it won't.
Here is the paper where they talk about the mechanism of resistance being conferred on the mosquito: http://www.pnas.org/content/109/28/E1922.abstract
The mechanism is this: "These scFvs are derived from antibodies specific to a parasite chitinase, the 25 kDa protein and the circumsporozoite protein, respectively."
So you'll spend a ton of money building a fancy CRISPR system in your mosquitoes, release them into the wild, and in a matter of months you will have parasites with on-target mutations in these proteins that will allow them to evade your resistance mechanism. I'd lay $1000 on this without blinking.
You're basically talking about curing malaria in mosquitoes. Why not, instead, just cure malaria in humans?
Second, there is no reason that a CRISPR-based system is limited to a single target. Will you also lay $1,000 against a system that targets ten species-unique sequences at once?
You're basically talking about curing malaria in mosquitoes.
Neither I nor the article is talking about that. It's a discussion of making the mosquito species itself extinct.
You're the one who brought up CRISPR and gene drive. Perhaps you should read the actual paper: http://www.pnas.org/content/112/49/E6736.full; you'll see that the proposal is entirely about giving mosquitoes resistance to the malaria parasite, not about eradication. That is, the goal is to eliminate the parasite in mosquito populations (i.e., cure malaria in mosquitoes), not to kill mosquitoes.
>Second, there is no reason that a CRISPR-based system is limited to a single target. Will you also lay $1,000 against a system that targets ten species-unique sequences at once?
Yes. On-target mutations are trivial to produce, and alleles segregate independently.
Which can be targeted to eliminate the mosquitos themselves.
"Perhaps you should read the actual paper"
The actual paper? Like there's only one? Hint: there's more than one way to use this technology, and more than one group working with it.
"On-target mutations are trivial to produce, and alleles segregate independently."
I think you're misunderstanding what "independently" means in this context.
If the probability of a mutation that will get around one targeted sequence is (say) 1 in a million, that's almost certainly going to happen, just because there are billions of mosquitos.
However, if you target (say) ten independent sequences, the probability of any one organism having resistance to all of them is going to be 1 in (1 million)^10 = 1 in 10^60 and that is basically not going to happen. It does no good in this case for one organism to be resistant with respect to one target, while another organism is resistant with respect to another target, because all of the targets will have fatal outcomes. The only way for the organism to survive would be for it to be resistant to all of them at the same time, from the beginning.
And there's no reason why you'd have to stop at 10, either.
Because plasmodium is a eukaryotic species which reproduces sexually, on-target resistance mutations to any number of mechanisms can arise independently in a bunch of different organisms and accumulate through selection + allele segregation. It's also very easy to produce these sorts of mutations, since it is trivial to change an amino acid to disrupt antibody binding/recognition without altering the function of the protein.
>Which can be targeted to eliminate the mosquitos themselves.
This is incorrect; the whole point of a gene drive is that it causes increased propagation of a trait in the mosquito population. What you're describing is a very different strategy, since a trait that kills the mosquito obviously cannot propagate. It can also be achieved much more simply by using sterile males to outcompete fertile males and reduce the population ('sterile insect' technique); however, this technique only works on small populations and almost certainly wouldn't work in Anopheles or some such.
FWIW, we could "cure" a lot of these diseases. We have, in rich parts of the world. If the option was between "we distribute cures to forgotten diseases to everyone who needs them" versus "we take a gamble and murder all the mosquitos," I might agree the former would be the better bet.
That's not the choice we're given because not enough people in the first world want to step up in a serious enough way.
In any event, learning how to control human diseases and prevent parasites from killing us seems like a very fundamental goal of medicine which should be accomplished in any eventuality. Eradicating mosquitoes need not be.
Also, regarding resistance, it is much easier to track and defeat resistance in human patients than to track and defeat resistance in wild populations of mosquitoes, which is what we'll be doing if we try eradication campaigns.
Much, much easier said than done.
That wasn't the case fifteen years ago. Mandating something, then hoping we come up with an inexpensive way to clean up the mess later probably isn't a good long-term plan.
It is in fact used medically to dissolve gallstones by way of injecting it into the gallbladder.
Arsenic has medicinal uses, too. I'll swing by the house later to drop some in the water inlet of your house.
MTBE is not required and there are alternatives
When the alternatives are more expensive, MTBE has been effectively "required". Perhaps it is not the current case, but it most certainly was in years past.
Do your research better.
You mean do my research such that my conclusions match yours? Or did you just have a nice, cold glass of Uncalled-for-Snark(tm) with your breakfast this morning?
Calling it a persistent pollutant is perfectly fine. It's bad enough to make entire aquifers taste bad until you put in the hardware to clean it out. What it isn't is a problematic carcinogen.
"Because of the intense odor (and taste) of MTBE, humans will not tolerate either air or water concentrations sufficient to produce the cytotoxic precursors required to promote cellular proliferation." http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1539-6924.1997....
> Arsenic has medicinal uses, too.
Not for its macroscopic physical properties it doesn't.
> I'll swing by the house later to drop some in the water inlet of your house.
Just be sure to stick to things like the EPA exposure limits and so on.
> That wasn't the case fifteen years ago. Mandating something, then hoping we come up with an inexpensive way to clean up the mess later probably isn't a good long-term plan.
> You mean do my research such that my conclusions match yours? Or did you just have a nice, cold glass of Uncalled-for-Snark(tm) with your breakfast this morning?
I'll admit that a little bit of it is snark. I find that the kind of person that's most vulnerable to misleading science is also pretty vulnerable to snark. But, no, I really did mean that you needed to do more research.
You know, "life finds a way" and all that..
And yes, gene drives can be reversed.
How do you supposedly kill mosquitoes without chemical dangerous products? Products that will kill people with cancer, asthma or birth defects.
How do you kill mosquitoes without killing bees and other useful insects that pollinize most of the agrarian production?
Most people ignore that on their own(using just wind to pollinize) the food that we cultivate the food production would be 5 percent or 10% of the current production. 50% of the world population will starve.
Bees already died en masse after the introduction of new pesticides, that had to be delayed in lots of places to study how they were accepting bees.
The healthier bees today live on cities like Paris which had forgotten pesticides in parks. The irony.
Ignorant people are very dangerous. Most people, specially experts on a specific field, are ignorant in most of the other areas.
Near my house there is a river 30 years ago some smart ass though it was a good idea to introduce an alien species of fish into it. No problem, the new fish was small and won't eat the local fish, they said.
Genius! The new fish eat all the eggs of local native population, that basically become extinct as a result.
Now: to ensure we're only extracting the mosquito DNA and not the dino DNA...
Their method was to put a bit of gasoline in all of the swamps. The thin layer of gas on the water surface killed the larvae. It probably caused lots of other environmental damage too though, so a different approach would be needed today.
I guess they were pretty close to eradicating mosquitoes in transmission areas once they started the control effort.
Not saying it was a good idea to plant Kudzu but there are far worse invasive plants to deal with.
It's a bit more then "unpleasant" I would say
Perhaps after a period of rapid upheaval, humanity develops the technology to capture and control those super powerful flora and fauna, and use them for our own devices.
Then we can finally become Pokemon trainers.
There is a Jewish creation story (Rashi, Genesis 1:11) that God told the trees to make their bark (or the wood itself) edible to humans. The trees refused because "if we did that humans would eat all of us, leaving none behind".
It seems to me that the trees got it wrong: Plants that are valuable to humans exist in far greater numbers than those that are not.
That was really interesting. Thanks for that.
If the latter, I'm not sure if people back then were so megalomaniac to consider being useful to humans as an advantage. The world was much less developed before steam engines gave us craploads of energy for free.
Needless to say, people were a threat to forests long before industrialization.
> Under the FAO's definitions above, agricultural land covers 38.4% of the world's land area as of 2011 
You could argue we already have.
Also you may think that most organism causing diseases are bad, but they can be actually useful in your own organism most of the time, and only trigger a disease once their population is out of control or when your body is not tuned correctly anymore.
Killing everything that seems to affect us in a bad way could snow ball into terrible consequences. Not to say I'm not glad that the plague is out of the picture, but everything is not "plague-level".
BTW: I have malaria. I hate mosquitos. I still believe we should not eradicate mosquitos.
"Let's get rid of all these natural population controls!"
Sounds like the beginning of a bad post-apocalypse movie.
I don't think that killing off mosquitoes will be the final insult that causes cataclysmic ecosystem collapse; that seems pretty far-fetched. However, I don't know that, and I do think we should strive to have strong evidence for the costs and benefits of any irreversible change we make to our world at this point.