Verily is formerly "Google Life Sciences" and currently Alphabet Inc's research arm for life sciences.
Amongst CSIRO's earlier inventions are 1960s insect repelent 'Aerogard', polymer banknotes and major components of Wi-Fi as we know it.
CSIRO funding over time
Do you think that high extra 28mm to attain that high water mark of 2013-2014 funding would have made the big impact?
Maybe 2017-2018 are dramatically lower and if they are, please provide a source.
Again, thanks for fact-checking me. I appreciate the correction!
This is a ridiculous thing to say. Curtin, Hawke, and Gillard all left the faiths they were raised in, and the first two Prime Ministers were Spiritualist (no dogma, not really zealots) and Unitarian (no supernatural belief) respectively. Australia is not a country in which accusations of zealotry can be fairly levelled.
If you'll allow me to ignore the non-sequiter about Abbott, it's worth pointing out that while he did cut CSIRO funding, as much to my disappointment as it was to yours, it wasn't really unprecedented, with funding experiencing lows that were similar under Hawke and Howard.
We ought to fund public research better in this country. We can afford it. But we don't have to use silly name-calling to get there.
Almost everything you enjoy in modern life was build first by public funding. The water in your tap, the electricity in your walls, the roads and bridges you drive on, hell, even the Internet was made by the army and TOR was made by the navy.
What had for profit organizations really given us?
I mean, they have obviously given us a lot, the Internet would be pretty dull without for profit organisations, but they often aren’t good at making new things.
There is a reason you’re still using the email protocol, it’s next to impossible to make a standard when for profit organizations take over, and it’s really the same with mosquito mass murder.
This is great for Australia, but if an African country wants to do the same thing they either have to start from scratch or pay.
Historically, a high percentage of major advances in basic science arose in publically-funded org's. The vision tends to be more long-term, the results less utilitarian.
I could make a strong case that the majority of major advances in basic science were made during the "gentleman academic" era.
Publicly-funded research institutions start to become prominent around the Great War, and their relevance is increasingly challenged (see: the replication crisis).
Basic research is more important than the means by which it is funded.
OTOH, I'll stick by my claim that 'basic research' done by privates -- (Bell notwithstanding ... e.g. Jansky was looking to solve a -private- problem, not discover radioastronomy) and especially nowadays -- is much likelier to have a particular pecuniary bias. So, not so 'basic'. Unlike, say, NASA.
It socializes the risk while privatizing the gains.
If CSIRO doesn't partner with industry you end up with debacles like the wifi lawsuit.
Is this actually happening, or is this just speculation?
Wonder why Australia had 12% better results? The sheer size of the experiment there? Australia was much bigger than Fresno, with only 300 acres there.
If I understand that correctly, that is a massive number. I really like what these sterilization trials are producing. In my mind, it’s a lot safer than spraying chemicals across cities.
In light of those numbers I feel we are ethically clear to take drastic action. We don't have to kill all mosquitoes as fewer than 1% of mosquito species feed on humans. We have several tools which will target the specific species which impact us (such as the approach used in this article). It's time we do something about it, or accept the fact that millions more humans are going to die while we wring our hands.
If we've not found any negatives then I imagine we've not tried very hard.
Australia is kinda synonymous with species-wide population control and not in a good way; hopefully this will change that?
One article: https://www.nature.com/news/2010/100721/full/466432a.html
>"They don't occupy an unassailable niche in the environment," says entomologist Joe Conlon, of the American Mosquito Control Association in Jacksonville, Florida. "If we eradicated them tomorrow, the ecosystems where they are active will hiccup and then get on with life. Something better or worse would take over."
Is that entomologist in the group you're allowing to have opinions? Because "<shoulder shrug> could be better or worse" doesn't appear terribly enlightened.
We've regretted destruction of killer species before (I'm thinking of the deforestation that follows wolf annihilation and the desire by some to reintroduce wolves to Scotland); we should be very careful.
IMO non-experts can add a needed objectivity to rational consideration that is often difficult for experts to tap in to.
That all said, and not that anyone cares, but I support targeted species-level eradication tests.
(Also TIL Arctic mosquitoes.)
That list suggests that the technique is an effective way of holding an insect population down in general, but not a good way of eliminating it entirely. Furthermore, the trials involving Aedes, Anopheles, and Culex are particularly unpromising:
> Culex quinquefasciatus / Myanmar / 1967 -- population eliminated
> Culex quinquefasciatus / Florida / 1969 -- population eliminated
> Culex pipiens / France / 1970 -- population "reduced"
> Anopheles albimanus / El Salvador / 1972 -- population reduced "below detection level"
> Culex quinquefasciatus / Delhi / 1973 -- population "reduced"
> Culex quinquefasciatus / Delhi / 1973 (?) -- population unaffected
> Aedes aegypti / Kenya / 1974 -- no long-term effect
> Anopheles albimanus / El Salvador / 1977-1979 -- significant reduction, but eradication prevented by immigration
> Culex tarsalis / California / 1981 -- "no population reduction"
So, in 9 trials the first 5 were whole or partial successes and the last 4 failed. (I have no idea what the story is with the two ~simultaneous trials in Delhi.) That's not great and the trend is ugly.
I tend to suspect the reason mosquitoes show up in this list with so many failures is precisely the fact that people hate them and significant efforts have already been devoted to their extermination. This strategy can't work over the long term -- either the population is wiped out quickly or not at all.
"The "Four Pests" campaign was introduced in 1958 by Mao Zedong, as a hygiene campaign aimed to eradicate the pests responsible for the transmission of pestilence and disease: the mosquitos responsible for malaria; the rodents that spread the plague; the pervasive airborne flies; and the sparrows – specifically the Eurasian tree sparrow – which ate grain seed and fruit.
By April 1960, Chinese leaders changed their opinion due to the influence of ornithologist Tso-hsin Cheng who pointed out that sparrows ate a large number of insects, as well as grains. Rather than being increased, rice yields after the campaign were substantially decreased. Mao ordered the end of the campaign against sparrows, replacing them with bed bugs, as the extermination of the former upset the ecological balance, and bugs destroyed crops as a result of the absence of natural predators. By this time, however, it was too late. With no sparrows to eat them, locust populations ballooned, swarming the country and compounding the ecological problems already caused by the Great Leap Forward, including widespread deforestation and misuse of poisons and pesticides. Ecological imbalance is credited with exacerbating the Great Chinese Famine, in which 20–45 million people died of starvation.[Emphasis added]"
Not really, because the general public won't take such care with the differentiating. The more scientists deliberately exterminate or cull animals, the more the public will grow accustomed to the idea of humanity taking such an active violent role in the environment. And the more the public grow accustomed to that idea, the more they'll be willing to fall in line behind politicians who try to do the same. Particularly when those politicians claim science as their justification (numerous disastrous examples in the 20th century.)
The ethical analysis performed by scientists looking to justify exterminations should include the social impact of their actions. Scientist and engineer sorts often loath considering such factors.
Half. That's an outrageous number, but Nature suggests it might be true: https://www.nature.com/news/2002/021003/full/news021001-6.ht...
At what point do you think we are ethically clear to take drastic action against another species? How many more human lives need to be lost before you think it's OK?
And in response to that, you propose that we deliberately drive even more species to extinction for the purpose of making the problem even worse?
> "How many more human lives need to be lost before you think it's OK?"
If they were a threat to the survival of our species, I would sign off on it. Plainly they are not.
How many more species must be exterminated before you decide the planet is safe enough for humanity? When will the Disney Worldification of the planet be sufficient for you? Maybe Disney World levels of safety from wildlife aren't even sufficient for you? https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/animalia/wp/2017/11/03/d...
It makes it clear that I have no common ground for this kind of discussion with that person.
That sort of trading genocide for one's own ego is Maoist and Stalinist, and it is really no different from their thought processes. Thankfully though stable political systems marginalize low-rank people like this. (Thus, be very afraid of revolutions).
Far from it, this is not even remotely a possibility. Mosquitoes are not threatening humanity with extinction in any conceivable way. As I stated elsewhere in this thread yesterday, if humanity were actually threatened by mosquitoes, I would support their eradication.
But apparently not about thousands or millions of individual humans dying.
You lowered the discussion significantly by taking it in an inflammatory direction, yielding flamey responses, which you then fed. I don't think you were trolling on purpose, but it has much the same effect. We're trying to avoid that, please don't post that way here.
How screwed would we all be right now.
Of course it doesn't work quite like that, but still. We might save enough humans to destroy the planet faster than we can fix it ... now solve that one without doing something "evil"!
Most parents prefer having one, two or three healthy kids rather than ten and losing half of them to malaria.
I think we should get into ecosystem engineering (it will be a tech, like anything else, capable of good or bad), but it's too powerful now and our knowledge / control is too limited. Thanks Mao.
When one gets stabbed withdrawing the knife (which follows the same logic) can kill you.
As for small fractions, ecological systems are usually pretty chaotic (in the mathematical sense of small perturbations being able to produce massive changes).
It's a good question. And the same thing could be said about any disease prevention strategy. What if the persistent presence of Polio is necessary for us to survive some future hypothesised outbreak? Imagination is the limit here.
But we certainly do know the chaos that is unleashed everyday by not eradicating viruses that use mosquitoes as a vector.
But it's worth keeping in mind that Malaria kills one child every 30 seconds.
As for you last comment, well even the Dahlia Lama swats mosquitoes.
(Furthermore exterminating a species just so the human population can grow even faster will lead to an incredible amount of additional extinctions due to habitat loss. Humanity is growing fast enough already; we don't need to optimize for this any further.)
Note however that here they are erradicating mosquitoes and not the virus.
But yes, the law of unintended consequences will probably apply.
I fully agree with you that something has to be done about these diseases. Going back to your first post I replied to: my mother had Polio and lived with minor side effects all her life, while thanks to vaccines, that disease is something from history books for myself and my children.
I am just concerned that people tend to ignore the risks from things we don’t know exist and therefore don’t usually account for.
Your hypothetical is just as likely to be harmful instead of helpful, unless there is actual evidence proven otherwise.
The null hypothesis should assume that it is no more likely to be helpful than harmful.
But in the worst case caution could be a harmful position. So in these tech matters I think it's adaptive that we disagree, since if we were (hypothetically) both on the same ecosystem-engineering team, maybe our diverse opinions would contribute to a balanced strategy that I think can have the best chance of greatest net benefit.
Interesting point about null. How can we factor in risks like 'unknown unknowns' into null hypothesis thinking? I don't know right now. But I think one issue/limitation with null hypothesis thinking is that it is not imaginative. This makes it very applicable for assessing evidence for something. But not applicable for thinking about the unknown risks that could occur for something. Different thinking frameworks for different problems, not one-sized fits all, I think. But I think it is applicable for you to use it here to advocate your position of pushing forward unless we have evidence otherwise. My position differs in that I'm saying I think we need to be imaginative about the potential risks.
Germline altering should only be done in extreme circumstances, and I think this is one of them. Even if mosquitoes do pass on vital antibodies (why hasn't this issue already been noticed in wealthy people who have never been bit and have never consumed something that was bit?) or malaria finds a new way to spread or their absence otherwise creates some kind of butterfly effect ecosystem chaos, what's easier to do in 30 years? Artificially re-introducing safer versions of these mosquitoes / mosquito analogs / isolated antibodies back into the ecosystem and finding new treatments for pathogens, or resurrecting the millions of people who needlessly suffered and died of preventable diseases?
And also consider the chance that maybe nothing bad at all will happen if they all die off. Obviously, this is a very risky hypothesis that's nearly impossible to prove or disprove in a lab, but it's just a possibility to keep in mind. Complex systems like ecosystems are fickle. Sometimes removing a tiny piece of a system wrecks the whole thing like a Jenga tower collapsing, and sometimes removing a massive piece has almost no effect at all. Eliminating a parasite species doesn't necessarily mean there will be significant negative consequences. But of course, there absolutely could be.
As long as this technology is tested extremely carefully and applied to smaller real-world ecosystems which can be studied for years before being deployed globally, it seems like the overall best answer is to avoid the short-term death and despair and deal with future problems as they arise.
Evolution by natural selection no longer holds all the cards. Humanity has, and will continue to, supersede it and override it to achieve things that would never otherwise be possible. We don't have to cower in fear of natural processes anymore, because we can intelligently shape our world, and soon other worlds, as we see fit. We still have to understand these systems and processes to prevent externalities, but that doesn't mean we can't cautiously venture into this kind of technology. It would happen sooner or later, so why not right now?
If we do it like the way you are saying I think it will work. At least I think that's the best chance we have. And I totally agree we must take these chances. And And I'm totally on board with the net benefit/ number of lives saves calculus, and also that we must go beyond natural selection to better our species.
We'll probably be okay because people as a whole have a diversity of opinions: some enthusiastic want to push forward, others want to move more cautiously. Put it together, hopefully we get the right balance. I guess this trait itself evolved, from hunter-gatherers. Only tribes that had the right mix of people: adventurers who want to explore new territory and cautioners who want to be careful, survive on average, I think. Hooray for careful progress.
yes, you will find "we did it" in China and Brazil and Vietnam and other places: The roots of this work go back to 2011 and before, at Monash University:
Verily brought mechanistic sex-sorting of mozzies. The CSIRO has a remit to get IPR into play, its government science for profit (I used to work at the CSIRO btw) and James Cook is right in the heart of the Australian mosquito belt. Maybe Monash is in a different sphere now.
No matter: the groundwork on Walbachia, the fundamentals stem from what they did. The cited 'happened here before' moments in this thread? most of them are WMP initiatives.
And later implement some kind of check to avoid the reintroduction. Some countries that have a nice natural barrier have checks to avoid the introduction of fruit that may have flies larva. With mosquito, I'm not sure how the larva can travel from one country to another...
A ship which unloaded in the St. Lawrence Seaway would fill the bilge tanks with fresh water.
* Malaria killed 445,000 people in 2016.
* Of those, 285,000 were children under the age of 5.
* There were 216 million cases of malaria in 2016.
That is a large city's worth of children dying every year, and a large country's population having severely reduced productivity.
And that is just one mosquito born illness.
The guaranteed human and economic benefits of wiping out mosquitoes, far outweigh any theoretical downside.
This group and other groups working to wipe out mosquitoes are truly doing humanity a great service.
I like how you just state that, like it doesn't even matter what the downside was. What if bird populations crashed and a pestilence set upon crops worldwide, and caused mass starvation & millions dead- kind of exactly like what happened during the Great Leap Forward?
I'm not saying that would happen, but we can't just say "lots of people die of malaria, so don't even worry about the downside"
It’s great to ask “what-if”?! This is a well studied problem of an invasive species where the scientific answer to your question is: there is no downside.
Do you have any evidence at all that such a thing is likely to happen? What level of certainty that such an outcome won't happen are you aiming for? Others have noted that scientists have considered the effects of eradicating disease causing mosquitoes, and concluded that eradicating them won't to the best of our knowledge cause ecological problems. I showed evidence that around half a million people are dying every year from mosquito borne diseases. When 500,000 people are dying a year, you need more than just a vague feeling of unease not to support eradicating disease causing mosquitoes.
We could probably fix that without need for any new technology and with only minimal changes to the eco-system. I wonder which costs more.
[Yes, I know it doesn't work like that and that these are not mutually exclusive.]
I don’t see how you can be so certain. We know that time and time again, the human race has thought this to be the case and ended up with serious resulting issues.
That’s not to say that the potential issues would be worse than 500k people per year, but I don’t see how we can say that with any real certainty.
I would also be curious to know the business / funding arrangement details to see if there is any possible conflict of interest. No one will look for adverse impacts if the profit motive is persuasive enough not to look very hard.
But looks like we're not there yet.
"From November 2017 to June this year, non-biting male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes sterilised with the natural bacteria Wolbachia were released in trial zones along the Cassowary Coast in North Queensland.
They mated with local female mosquitoes, resulting in eggs that did not hatch and a significant reduction of their population."
In theory all they have to do is keep releasing these males and hopefully eventually all the female vectors will have mated with these introduced males and that's it.
Edit: as in the Australian, introduced pest.
Mosquitos are still the deadliest animal as far as humans are concerned, makes me wonder what other populations they are keeping under control....
Ecologist hubris and ignorance of 2nd and 3rd order effects is marching with misplaced confidence towards the death spiral.
*Buys more SpaceX bonds....
The ones most harmful to humans are also fairly specific about what species they bite:
Most members of an ecosystem play a role in sustaining it, but certainly not all.
Write me when the Martian ecosystem will have reached equilibrium between mega-worms and killer super-bacteria imported from Earth :)
With all due respect, I read that as “many ecologists can’t imagine how mosquito erradication...” seems like naive interventionism where benefits are known and hence measured but risks are unknown and hence ignored.
A pure rye bread would be more difficult to bake as it binds water differently but I think its doable. It might not be as tasty but you wouldn't starve in front of it.
>The first American narcotics experts to go to Afghanistan under Taliban rule have concluded that the movement's ban on opium-poppy cultivation appears to have wiped out the world's largest crop in less than a year, officials said today. The American findings confirm earlier reports from the United Nations drug control program that Afghanistan, which supplied about three-quarters of the world's opium and most of the heroin reaching Europe, had ended poppy planting in one season.
>But the eradication of poppies has come at a terrible cost to farming families, and experts say it will not be known until the fall planting season begins whether the Taliban can continue to enforce it.
Later that year America invaded and poppy production soon exceeded historic numbers by a significant margin.
Make of this what you will.
The USA discovered in the Vietnam War that destroying people's livelihood isn't a great way to win hearts and minds. Unfortunately half of Afghanistan's GDP comes from opium and heroin.
The Afghan government doesn't want to eradicate opium production because half of the government is involved in the opium trade.
The Russians actually wanted to spray the fields back in 2010, but the USA declined .
ISAF actually specifically avoided destroying poppy fields, if you watch documentaries from the Afghan War, like Restrepo or The Battle for Marjah, you'll see American troops just walking right through poppy fields and doing nothing.
Most of them just want to make a living and put food on the table without being shot by one or the other or blown up in a drone strike.
(So most of the batch is sterile and cant reproduce so cant evolve. But maybe just a single mosquito of the batch is "faulty" and can reproduce and is released anyway etc etc ?)
80% isn't a high enough number to avoid adaptation.
Because I would really love to hear some moral objections to the matter.
If we're really lucky, the consequences will be minimal: spiders and other predators will simply find something else to eat. But if mosquitoes had some heretofore undiscovered critical purpose for the environment, we might have seriously screwed things up.
Aedes aegypti did not exist at all in Fresno, for example, until 2013.
These species of insects were introduced to these ecosystems. By humans. The diseases (for example, Zika) being spread now are the consequences of us introducing these mosquitoes in the first place.
You are mistaken. Not wiping out all mosquitos, just the specific aedes aegypti species from the aedes genus.
But what if mosquitoes are actually bad for the environment? By not removing them we can be screwing things up!
And it sure isn't unknowable - find what is interacting with that mosquito (something may be eating its larvae or reproducing symbiotically or parasitically etc). That dependent creature will be catastrophically affected, likely become extinct as well.
This problem has been studied: https://www.nature.com/news/2010/100721/pdf/466432a.pdf
If you mean non-random, then who decides? Morality, productivity and purpose are culturally and individually relative. Having the majority or even a powerful minority decide what future children should be born is even more authoritarian than the first approach.
If you're worried about the planet not being able to support too many people, there are many other options that promote kindness, respect and privacy while promoting a sustainable environment.
The only viable avenue is education and even then life is very much geared to beget more of it. And that's before we get into life extension.
The better alternative is to get off the planet. The only reason we are exhausting the planet is because there is more of us every day and the same amount of planet to be divided.
Or there might be some man made or natural disaster around the corner, one thing is for sure: it will not continue this way for much longer.
Mother nature does not like sudden vacuums in complex ecosystems, it gets ugly for somebody at some part of the food chain where we never expected it.
Tell me more ecologists...grabs popcorn.
This is so stupid. A population will recover from this in a single generation, because the second you stop releasing sterile males, the remaining males (no matter how few) can repopulate the species.
If you want to make a species of mosquitoes extinct (and I'm in favor of this, they serve no irreplaceable environmental purposes), the more effective method would be releasing males that only have male offspring.
Or perhaps it's prudent and by design. Mosquitos are part of a complex ecosystem that we barely understand. Irreversibly wiping out a _species_ without fully understanding the consequences is a drastic measure.
It's all revisionist nonsense. Take a look out the window at all the hulking tons of metal burning up dinosaurs to move faster than any land animal ever did. Complex ecosystem.
It's the same phenomenon we get with opposition to GMO food found predominantly in faux educated circles. Heard about evolution in school, never really understood it.
How are we sure of this?
We can start with less populous species that share their ecological niche with other species that can replace them in the food chain - observe the impact of removing that one species then move on to others as warranted by the results.
Answer #2: It's worth the risk. Kill them all.
We had some missteps applying technology last century but the time has come to stop being paralyzed by fear and start carefully, optimistically fixing some of this stuff.
Not really. Mosquitoes, both adults and larvae, serve as an important food source for many animals that humans eventually depend on for food. Many types of juvenile fish eat their larvae, for example, juvenile fish that eventually grow up and become a major source of protein for some groups of people.
But not for Westerners in temperate climes, so, y'know, who cares ... [that's deeply black sarcasm in case it's not obvious].
More concerning than the ecological scar left behind by the eradication of some species of mosquito is the precedent that would be set. Once you've deliberately eradicated one pest species, people will incorporate the knowledge of that action into their image of how the world works and the sort of things we're willing to do. The next time somebody proposes that a species be eradicated, there will almost certainly be less debate.
I've heard people defend the deliberate eradication of mosquitoes by pointing out how we've already deliberately eradicated viruses like smallpox. This demonstrates my concern. What will the eradication of mosquitoes be used to justify? It's already the case in the modern era that angry mobs of idiots need to be restrained from emotional outbursts against animals (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Australian_shark_cull). Having scientists justify the extermination of mosquitoes will only make it harder to get these angry mobs to back down.
I don't really doubt that human-feeding mosquito species could be eradicated without much harm to the environment, but these social concerns remain unaddressed.
Even with reuse it is pretty mating strategy dependent. It isn't a dial an extinction. Trying that with say feral cats would be a miserable failure or at best the equivalent of releasing a bunch of teaser tomcats into an area having only the TNR occupying effect on inhibiting population growth by claiming territory until they die of natural causes.
In short; a scientist demanding a cull will have more social impact than a politician demanding a cull. The more culls scientists demand, the easier it will be for fear-mongering politicians to demand culls.
Culling invasive species wherever they are invasive is something I support. But many people want to go a lot further than that.
As a species we’re piss poor at calculating blowback in complicated systems, ranging from the deaths of animal species, to interventions in foreign lands. Is it really surprising? We have an incomplete picture of the systems we intervene in, so the outcomes surprise us, then we rationalize our next blunder with the old saw, “this time it will be different.”
The normalization of extermination should be avoided, even if it comes at the costs of hundreds of millions of human lives per year. (There is no people shortage, but damage to the environment is often permanent. And not to put too fine a point on it, but human populations are growing too fast as it is which is a leading cause of environmental destruction. We should not be attacking the environment to encourage massive increases in human population growth; not unless we have very concrete and immediate plans on how to artificially retard the growth of human populations. Waiting for economic factors to suppress birth rates isn't good enough; that sort of milquetoast approach leads to extraordinary destruction of the environment. It's little more than an excuse to ignore the problem and do nothing.)
> "Since 2000 there have been 15 fatal shark attacks along the West Australian coast."
Yes, it's an emotional outburst. Anybody who goes in the water should know the risks. If that's the problem, put up more signs warning people. Very few people are getting killed by sharks; the shark culls are totally unjustified. If you talk to your average Australian about the Chinese slaughtering sharks for soup, they'll condemn it. But a disturbing number will defend the slaughter of sharks for an infinitesimal chance of saving some surfer who knew the risks and chose to swim with them.
> "They're just sharks."
It is this sort of shitty attitude that will only become more prevalent when the eradication of animal species is further normalized.
And congratulations. You have entirely trolled me. Not even Australians are that goofy about fish.
The Verily folks are well aware of gene drives and CRISPR, but they're working to get a useful profitable product out to market, so they'll have more money to support that sort of R&D.