Being ridden by Bill Gates. All the way to the Microsoft, uh, bank.
She not he.
The female of the species is more deadly than the male – as the song goes.
There are some things that seem to be ignored completely by Bill Gates and the people like him who think that getting rid of mosquitoes will end all these diseases. It might end the diseases in question, but only temporarily at best, because mosquitoes aren’t the only blood-sucking bugs, and the process of spreading virii through bug bites is useful to Nature in general. If there we create a niche by killing off mosquitoes, that niche will be filled by another insect. Or, you know, we’ll start to get a handle on the mosquito problem, and then it’ll just come back with a vengeance like bed bugs have.
So, should we just throw up our hands and give up? No, of course not. But it might do us well to consider how malaria in southern Europe was eradicated between 1955 and 1975 (and why it’s coming back), why malaria doesn’t plague Israel any more, and why the southern US doesn’t have the problems with malaria that it once did. Note that in all of these cases, controlling the mosquito population has been part of the fight against malaria, but none of these places are mosquito free today.
The end of malaria in a given region may have as much to do with access to drugs, general improvement in hygiene, the state of water and sewer infrastructure, and other factors which map to wealth within a country or region rather than to the existence of mosquitoes. So, do we care about people’s health enough to build closed sewers in Africa instead of the open sewers that get built today? Do the donor class care enough to fund maintenance of vital infrastructure instead of only funding new construction and “innovation”? Probably not. It’s way more fun to talk about the eradication of mosquitoes and pretend like that’s the best way to fix the problem.
I think it’s more that Bill Gates is looking at it as a ‘silver bullet’ for the issue – eradicate the direct source of a million deaths per year – rather than taking on the far more long-term, labor-intensive, and potentially expensive solution of rebuilding the infrastructure of the entire continent of Africa. Not sure if either one is ‘fun’, really.
First, we are speking about mosquito population control and making impossible to the mosquito to be a vector of diseases.
Second, certain mosquitos that are vectors are introduced species, non endemic to certain areas. So there would be no problem of extinguishing then in those places.
Third, humans have a terrible memory. Long term eradication or control programs are dependent on continuous campaigns, and most politicians do not want this kind of program. And if they do it, after a few months or just before the elections they will declare the battle won, even if it far from it.
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