Friday, October 29th, 2010

The Future Will Be Itchy, Deadly

Great. Here during the current mass extinction event, the first of its kind to be caused by the activity of a single species (that would be human beings), a global conservation study released at this week's UN Biodiversity Summit in Japan says that one-fifth of all animal and plant species on the are now endangered. Awesome animals, like the Siberian tiger, the largest of all the big cats; and the fossa, the top of Madagascar's food chain, a creature so interesting, that zoologists don't even know what family it belongs to (is it a type of cat, a mongoose, what?); and the sad and adorable and just recently discovered snub-nosed monkey of Myanmar, already so oppressed by its anatomy and environment that it has to sit with its head tucked between its knees whenever it rains—all on the brink of nevermore.

You know who seems to be thriving, though? (Besides bed bugs and Asian carp, I mean.) Mosquitoes! The most hateful, annoying, torturous plague of a life-form evolution ever came up with. And the most lethal! Mosquitoes are responsible, through the malarial parasite they carry, for one human death every forty seconds (mostly children, mostly in Africa). Mosquitoes have been responsible, in fact, for half of all human deaths since the stone age! Mosquitoes are doing so well, in fact, that a single strain, the Anopheles Gambiae of Africa, is mutating into two separate species. Each adapted to suit different environmental conditions, so more and more of the planet can be covered in their teeming swarms.

So that's the future we have to look forward to: less species of everything else, more species of malarial mosquitoes.

22 Comments / Post A Comment

Jim Demintia (#1,815)

After the last couple thousand years, it's pretty safe to say that human beings are fucking terrible, so the fact that the insect complement of our global dominance is the mosquito probably qualifies as some kind of karmic retribution.

C_Webb (#855)

And by "READ MORE" you meant "KILL SELF," I assume?

kneetoe (#1,881)

But, as your post points out, for many the present is itchy, deadly. People often talk about the potential for malaria to spread under global warming without seeming to realize that millions are dying of malaria right now. And man is it hard to find dollars to help ferners (and least of all Africans) even when there are known solutions that could at least seriously lower the death/sick rates (not looking at you Bill Gates-just keep doing what you're doing).

jolie (#16)


This week the Duggar family of the mosquito world moved into my apartment and the ensuing bloodbath was traumatic for everyone involved. My left hand is STILL swollen!

C_Webb (#855)

You need to borrow/rent a bat.

jolie (#16)

In the worst way, yes.

Not to worry. The World Health Organization is preparing a worldwide shipment of ceiling fans.

C_Webb (#855)

I'm envisioning the gin and tonic coming back in a big way.

Smitros (#5,315)

It's been gone? Not from my hand, anyway.

popstand (#8,298)

Nitpick Alert: Siberian Tiger is the largest of the big cats, not the Bengal.

God, I hate myself for doing that…

kneetoe (#1,881)

Length and/or weight?

Dave Bry (#422)

No, Popstand, fact-checking is always appreciated.

First line of National Geographic's Siberian tiger info page: "Siberian (or Amur) tigers are the world's largest cats.


Dave Bry (#422)

Corrected now in text.

(An easy fix to make, since all five subspecies of tiger are helpfully endangered!)

kneetoe (#1,881)

Sure, Dave, complain about the extinctions, and then when the skeeters try to reverse the trend, complain about that too. Just can't win!

Smitros (#5,315)

Increasing CO2 levels are also likely to favor the growth of viny plants, many of which are considered weeds, and some of which are invasive species like kudzu.

riotnrrd (#840)

And poison oak and poison ivy! They will thrive in the CO2-heavy climatological disaster area of the near future.

Mindpowered (#948)

Which brings up an interesting point.
13,000 years ago North America was as rich as Africa (if not richer) in various megafauna from Lions to Mammoths to Camels to Rhinos to Giant flightless terror birds.
In fact our ecology (where it\'s still preserved) is adapted to having all these species running around here.
It may be our only solution to import this Megafuana and then re-export it when those other places get there houses in order. Much like the re-importation of the Polish Bison from Berlin after the Nazi\'s wiped them out.

See here:

Dave Bry (#422)

Yeah. I really liked this idea when it was being talked about a few years back. I don't know enough about anything, but there was one article in the Economist that proposed clearing a couple of largely uninhabited plains states here in the U.S. of people, and using the land to reestablish the megafauna. I was like, "Yeah, that could work!" But also, besides not knowing enough about anything, y'know, I don't live in the plains states.

katiebakes (#32)

Endangered species are soooo 90's.

Dave Bry (#422)

Species at all are so '90s.

Thanks for the info. I am so glad that I don't have to deal with scorpion control. That would be terrible and I would probably be dead now. It wouldn't be from poison, it would be from fear. I hate everything that creeps and crawls.

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