The sun provides energy for the grass and the trees. The grass and trees provide leaves, nuts, and fruits for rodents and birds. Birds and rodents provide meat for snakes and coyotes. The cycle and organization of life seems simple at first glance.
But what about those darned mosquitoes? While walking around Wild Basin and looking for invasive plants, I was bitten by at least four mosquitoes. I managed to smash one against my shirt, but that only left an annoyingly large red streak of blood. However, that act got me thinking: what if we got rid of the mosquitoes? Surely another insect would fill up a similar niche without being a disease-ridden menace?
Maybe nothing drastic would happen. But what about the cost? Or the risk? How long would the ecosystems take to stabilize?
What Leopold says about the topic is let it be:
“The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant, “What good is it?” If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.”
I tend to agree with Leopold, but I would have loved to ask the question of: at what cost? If diseases and sickness are part of the Earth’s ecosystem, are we fools for spreading vaccines? Hopefully he would say no. If mosquitoes are disease vectors and are responsible for millions of deaths per year, would we be fools to try to protect ourselves in a similar way? Maybe.