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.