TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

Is the total eradication of mosquitoes a true solution?

Mosquitoes have a massive ecological role in nature. Especially as main food source for great number freshwater fish and birds.


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Jan 4 2013: The ecological aspect would seem tricky at first glance, but it really isn't. Even with this technology available to us, humans are in no way close to becoming the 'Banes of Mosquitoes'. In fact, our current behavior is the best thing that has ever happened to the mosquitoes; by giving them mobility to spread across the world, we have made them one of the strongest species on this planet. Mosquitoes have no natural capabilities that would allow them to spread in this way. Most mosquitoes have no business being in the Americas at all. So if we are doing anything, we are in fact correcting our previous disturbance of nature.

    And also; since all males die within days, we can actively stop our 'treatment' at any given point. We have total control of the development, and can specify the exact number of mosquitoes world wide that we want.

    This technology is literally perfect. It is for these kinds of situations that the word 'perfect' exists.
    • thumb
      Jan 4 2013: Your conclusion seems to say that non-indigenous life forms can be annihilated without consideration of the impact. Is that true?
      • Jan 4 2013: No, I address this in the second part of my answer; this technology doesn't necessarily wipe out the population since the males are short-lived. The process can be slowed down or reversed at our convenience. So you could start off with a smaller dispatch of these killer-males, and then customize your approach after observing the ecological effect.
        • thumb
          Jan 4 2013: Thank you. Do females live long enough to allow "observing the ecological effect" of the annihilation of all males? How many males would need to be kept in reserve? You use the word "perfect" which guarantees 100% beneficial results with no risks. Are you sure you want that word?
        • Jan 6 2013: @Edward Long

          You can always go in Egypt, grab the females and males of this species, and reintroduce it into America.

          This technology is intended to remove that non-native mosquito from the countries in which it shouldn't be and it arrived in the last 30-50 years thanks to human trades, not to wipe it out from the entire world.

          In respect to your former question, it should be considered that non-indigenous life forms have been introduced without consideration of the impact too. We were not even aware of it, so there has been no asses. It is fairly impossible for humans to actually understand how important are certain balances for an ecosystem, but to me the obvious answer out of ignorance is that "how nature made it before human intervention, should be fine restore it back".

          I do agree that "perfect" is a dangerous word, though. ;-)
        • thumb
          Jan 9 2013: RE: "I wasn't able to reply. . .
          We agree "perfect" will always be hypothetical in the natural realm. Thank you Mr. Mortensen.
        • thumb
          Jan 9 2013: @ Robert V'Ger
          I read "total eradication of mosquitoes" to mean total eradication of mosquitoes. So Mr. Mortensen's proposal is to eradicate only non-indigenous species? If so, I agree that in cases where the introduction of non-indigenous species produces harmful results those species should be eradicated. It's a good idea to mimic the natural. Thank you!
      • Jan 9 2013: @ Edward Long (I wasn't able to reply directly to your last post): Yes, I want that word, though I admit that it actually comes down to the motives of the USER of this approach.

        The life-span of the females isn't relevant, as long as we leave a percentage of healthy males. Insects have a much faster reproduction cycle than you seem to realize. You have to view this process in terms of generations of mosquitoes; if you kill half of the next generation of offspring, you still have a healthy half to observe when planning your next move. This is just an example though, you could also use much less influence in order to gain understanding of the ecological effects of the treatment, in a specific environment.

        EDIT: I just realized that I may have missed the point of this discussion. If the question that Domagoj Hackenberger (author of this thread) asked is taken out of it's context (a comment on a certain type of genetic manipulation; a tool), the answer becomes much simpler; killing every single member of a species without concern for the environment is not only wrong, it's actually pretty incomprehensible in a debate. The question in itself suggests action without contemplation, and it just makes me wonder if this is a course of action that anyone would suggest. At this point I feel that my personal opinion should be expressed, instead of further argumentation; I believe that the current mosquito population should be considered a pest, since it poses a lethal threat to our species. However I also believe that mosquitoes are beautiful creatures that should continue to enrich our environment on their own terms (as opposed to being carried around the world by our transportation routes).

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.