Now is the time to eliminate mosquitoes

“In 2015, there were roughly 214 mil­lion malaria cases and an es­ti­mated 438 000 malaria deaths.” While we don’t know how many hu­mans malaria has kil­led, an es­ti­mate of half of ev­ery­one who has ever died isn’t ab­surd. Be­cause few peo­ple in rich coun­tries get malaria, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies put rel­a­tively few re­sources into com­bat­ing it.

The best way to elimi­nate malaria is prob­a­bly to use gene drives to com­pletely erad­i­cate the species of mosquitoes that bite hu­mans, but un­til re­cently rich coun­tries haven’t been mo­ti­vated to such xeno­cide. The Zika virus, which is in mosquitoes in the United States, pro­vides effec­tive al­tru­ists with an op­por­tu­nity to ad­vo­cate for ex­ter­mi­nat­ing all species of mosquitoes that spread dis­ease to hu­mans be­cause the hor­rify­ing and dis­gust­ing pic­tures of ba­bies with Zika might make the Amer­i­can pub­lic re­cep­tive to our ar­gu­ments. A lead­ing short-term goal of effec­tive al­tru­ists, I pro­pose, should be ad­vo­cat­ing for mosquito erad­i­ca­tion in the short win­dow be­fore rich peo­ple get ac­cli­mated to pic­tures of Zika ba­bies.

Per­son­ally, I have (un­suc­cess­fully) pitched ar­ti­cles on mosquito erad­i­ca­tion to two mag­a­z­ines and (with a bit more suc­cess) emailed some­one who knows some­one who knows some­one in the Trump cam­paign to at­tempt to get the can­di­date to come out in fa­vor of mosquito erad­i­ca­tion. What have you done? Given the enor­mous harm mosquitoes in­flict on mankind, do­ing just a lit­tle (such as writ­ing a blog post) could have a high ex­pected pay­off.