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Doing Good By Doing Harm?

I paused today before swatting a mosquito today due to a thought passing through.

If I could find a way to eliminate all mosquito's I would ultimately save billions of lives and prevent an imense amount of suffering but at the same time I would be taking trillions of six legged lives.

I acknowledge that suffering and death is a part of life but it is a thought process I chose to live by and would it be such a bad thing to do the harm that would ultimately be for the good?

Comments

  • Mosquitos exist for a reason. They fill an ecological niche. If you eliminate all of them, the creatures that feed on them will be out of food. No good comes with toying with nature that way. Instead of swatting mosquitos, just blow them off you with a puff of air. Take preventive measures, like putting screens on your windows and doors.

    _/\_
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    Dakini said:

    Mosquitos exist for a reason. They fill an ecological niche. If you eliminate all of them, the creatures that feed on them will be out of food. No good comes with toying with nature that way. Instead of swatting mosquitos, just blow them off you with a puff of air. Take preventive measures, like putting screens on your windows and doors.

    _/\_

    I know what you're trying to say, but in many parts of the world mosquitoes are more than just a nuisance. West Nile Virus, malaria, and dengue fever are among the diseases carried by mosquitoes that cause a great deal of suffering, permanent disability, and death.

  • zombiegirlzombiegirl beating the drum of the lifeless in a dry wasteland Veteran
    vinlyn said:


    I know what you're trying to say, but in many parts of the world mosquitoes are more than just a nuisance. West Nile Virus, malaria, and dengue fever are among the diseases carried by mosquitoes that cause a great deal of suffering, permanent disability, and death.

    I was thinking this too... But like Dakini said, preventative measures are the most kind.
  • ZeroZero Veteran


    If I could find a way to eliminate all mosquito's I would ultimately save billions of lives...

    One can't be sure of that - eliminating a part of the ecosystem usually means another part flourishes... a niche is the calm in the storm...
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran
    edited August 2013
    Bugs (all the annoying biting ones) are the vast majority of food for bats, small birds, and fish. If we eliminated bugs that had the potential to spread disease, it would affect the entire food chain. If it were just mosquitoes, maybe, maybe not. I've never tried to find out. But if you include flies and other biting insects, yes. Birds actually alter their migration to hit areas with high mosquito populations. They are quite important in the ecosystem. We'd have some major problems without birds and fish on the planet.

    I guess, for me, the discussion seems to imply that by killing trillions of other beings, it would save some human beings (which overpopulate that planet as it is), and then maybe it is ok. On a personal/emotional level, of course no one wants to see other people suffer from disease, especially when many are so preventable and treatable with cheap medicines that just aren't available everywhere. But on a more logical level, I'm never convinced that making any wide-sweeping ecological change in favor of more humans living (or living longer) is the best thing to do. I am not heartless, I promise, but it seems more along the natural order of things for people to die of mosquito-borne diseases than it is for all the animals that die so we can have more pesticides and more bigger houses, and so on. That's simplifying quite a lot of course, but on a basic level. We cause far more harm to the world around us (and thus to ourselves as a result) than mosquitoes cause, on a grand scale, even though the suffering can be immense.

    In some areas of the US, more than 30% of the bee population has died off over the winter in the past few years.
    In comparison, about 2 million people or so die each year due to diseases spread by mosquitoes. Of our 7+ billion people this comes to what .03% of the population?
    I'm not saying mosquitoes or bees are more important than people. But when we overlook the important of the tiny, ugly, annoying creatures at the bottom of the food scale we ignore our own health and survival as well. It's just good to keep perspective.


    That said, with mosquitoes in particular, there are only like 200 out of over 3000 species of mosquitoes that actually bite humans and can spread disease so if we had a way to only rid the planet of the ones that spread disease or bite humans, it probably wouldn't have a major impact in most areas. But, this would vary some. In my state, there are 50 species. Almost 30 of them bite humans. Getting rid of them would have a harmful effect on the small bird and bat population, at least initially.
    TheEccentric
  • If you killed all mosquitos, the important human lives would be saved due to their eradication. I live in an environment where they are not yet a danger. If eradicated, another less dangerous to humans insect would fill their niche. You need a mosquito laser.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosquito_laser

    Good luck :rarr:
  • If you killed all mosquitos, the important human lives would be saved due to their eradication. I live in an environment where they are not yet a danger. If eradicated, another less dangerous to humans insect would fill their niche. You need a mosquito laser.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosquito_laser

    Good luck :rarr:
  • zenffzenff Veteran
    After a short google search (“Buddhist Pest Control”) I think Buddhists are reluctant. But in the end they are practical about the subject. At some point we decide to protect our lives and our wellbeing; and we kill insects for that, when there’s no other practical solution.
    vinlyn
  • We farm. Insects must die. If for health reasons or other reasons we eat meat, big animals die. My father had malaria. Not fun.
    Maybe we could instigate a kill one mossie and sponsor two butterflies? :screwy:
  • jlljll Veteran
    To quote an eminent biologist.
    ' How arrogant of man to think he is the
    species that deserves to live more than any other on this planet
    .'

    Man is the product of evolution, not by our own design.
    In the last 100 years or so, man has dominated the planet.
    Look around you, do you ever wonder if the earth would be better
    off without homo sapiens?

    I paused today before swatting a mosquito today due to a thought passing through.

    If I could find a way to eliminate all mosquito's I would ultimately save billions of lives and prevent an imense amount of suffering but at the same time I would be taking trillions of six legged lives.

    I acknowledge that suffering and death is a part of life but it is a thought process I chose to live by and would it be such a bad thing to do the harm that would ultimately be for the good?

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran
    jll said:

    Look around you, do you ever wonder if the earth would be better off without homo sapiens?

    I'm sure it would. Have you seen that film "The day the earth stood still"?
  • jlljll Veteran
    No, i havent.
    is it online?

    jll said:

    Look around you, do you ever wonder if the earth would be better off without homo sapiens?

    I'm sure it would. Have you seen that film "The day the earth stood still"?
  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    edited August 2013
    Everybody is so negative.

    We could be the only way Earth is able to share information with other planets. We may have a lot of learning to do still but we are getting there.

    The Earth may be better off without us? That doesn't make any sense as we (not just homo sapiens but all of us) ARE the Earth.

    Homo sapiens are going through a phase where we are too smart for our own good but it just might lead to an awakening.
    riverflow
  • Misanthropy and anthropocentrism both represent two sides of the same coin.

    [existentialism] Like it or not, the human beings represent only one participating species in a much larger and diverse ecosystem. The crucial matter lies not in whether humanity (as a separate species) continues or not, but whether or not we will act responsibly in a way that acknowledges that broader ecological context. That choice belongs to us, and we cannot evade it. Defining "humans = bad" oversimplifies the issue just as much as "human = good" does. Our choices matter, not positing some blanket fixed characteristic of "humanity." [/existentialism]
    MaryAnne
  • While seating at a meditation retreat in Thailand, a student asked the teacher why the mosquitos do not land on him. The teacher responded, westerners are filled with anger which causes heat, mosquitos are attracted to heat. Remove the anger and remove the heat, removing the threat.

    Forest monks learn quickly how to deal with mosquitos by dealing with the emotions and the anger that arises when a mosquito is buzzing in your ear.

    Do not place your life as being more important than the mosquitos, after all, are we not both trying to do the same thing. Trying to get from one moment to the next.
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    I_AM_THAT said:

    While seating at a meditation retreat in Thailand, a student asked the teacher why the mosquitos do not land on him. The teacher responded, westerners are filled with anger which causes heat, mosquitos are attracted to heat. Remove the anger and remove the heat, removing the threat.

    Forest monks learn quickly how to deal with mosquitos by dealing with the emotions and the anger that arises when a mosquito is buzzing in your ear.

    Do not place your life as being more important than the mosquitos, after all, are we not both trying to do the same thing. Trying to get from one moment to the next.

    So I guess the current dengue fever epidemic in Thailand ("Thailand could face one of the largest dengue fever epidemics yet with the Public Health Ministry anticipating that over 120,000 people could contract the virus this year") must only be foreigners visiting contracting the disease.

  • vinlyn said:

    So I guess the current dengue fever epidemic in Thailand ("Thailand could face one of the largest dengue fever epidemics yet with the Public Health Ministry anticipating that over 120,000 people could contract the virus this year") must only be foreigners visiting contracting the disease.

    ...Either that or most Thais get very angry very easily! :rant:
    vinlyn
  • I_AM_THATI_AM_THAT Veteran
    edited August 2013
    _/\_
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    vinlyn said:

    I_AM_THAT said:

    While seating at a meditation retreat in Thailand, a student asked the teacher why the mosquitos do not land on him. The teacher responded, westerners are filled with anger which causes heat, mosquitos are attracted to heat. Remove the anger and remove the heat, removing the threat.

    Forest monks learn quickly how to deal with mosquitos by dealing with the emotions and the anger that arises when a mosquito is buzzing in your ear.

    Do not place your life as being more important than the mosquitos, after all, are we not both trying to do the same thing. Trying to get from one moment to the next.

    So I guess the current dengue fever epidemic in Thailand ("Thailand could face one of the largest dengue fever epidemics yet with the Public Health Ministry anticipating that over 120,000 people could contract the virus this year") must only be foreigners visiting contracting the disease.

    Yes another example of Asian triumphalism which every bit as tedious as western triumphalism. The fact is the phenomenon of people who attract mosquitos and people who do not has been well researched as an offshoot of malaria research. It turns out to be to do with a number of physical characteristics, including blood group and gender. Apparently given a choice mosquitos prefer the ladies.
    vinlyn
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran
    Mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide and can be drawn from over 100 feet away by a person who is breathing. They are attracted to some people more than others depending on their hormones and what they are wearing and scents present on the person, and sometimes they are averse to people who have health problems mosquitoes can detect (including, apparently, cancer). The foreign exchange students are just as affected by them as we are so I don't buy the angry westerner thing.
    When I go out in the woods with my husband, the mosquitoes are so attracted to him that I don't even need to use bug spray, they leave me almost entirely alone. I can be right next to him and he'll be covered in them. He also reacts much more strongly to their stings though that has improved and I think is a result of him not growing up here.

    They are currently testing a patch that basically blocks mosquitoes from sensing the CO2 you emit as you breath (this is kind of what bug sprays too, but they confused the senses of the mosquito rather than block them entirely...but less effectively and with health risks to us). If it passes the trials and eventually is available, it'll be a game changer in the world of mosquito-borne disease.
  • howhow Veteran
    edited August 2013
    I don't allow mosquitoes to bite me if I can avoid it and
    I do kill mosquitoes in my tent because trying to gently remove them just allows more mosquitoes to gain entry during the removal procedure.

    But

    I also assume that all life here is a balance of pros & cons.
    Diseases are easily tracked to mosquitoes but I do wonder what long term benefits also accrue from them since they certainly have been around longer than humans.
    All I know for sure is that we don't presently know enough to formulate what harm is allowable when that ultimate good you mention is unknown.
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited August 2013
    Its the other way round for my wife and me @karasti. They will fly round me to get to her.
    I am not offended by this neglect.. :)
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    Disclaimer: I'm de-railing for a good cause... :)
    One of my rewarding fundraisers.....

    Nothing But Nets is a global, grassroots campaign to raise awareness and funding to fight malaria, a leading cause of death among children in Africa.

    They work with UN partners like UNICEF, the UN Refugee Agency, and the World Health Organization to purchase nets, transport them to Africa, and distribute them to families. Net distributions are typically part of a wider public health effort within a country coordinated by the Ministry of Health, the UN and other local and international organizations.

    --http://www.nothingbutnets.net/about-us/

    lobster
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