Yes, Zika is a horrible health threat. Yes, we really, really, want to do something about it. But we do need to understand it:
Now that the World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus a public health emergency, we must remember one thing: we can’t turn the clock back on globalization. There is no role for travel or trade bans unless we issue mosquitoes passports and restrict their movement – a ridiculous notion.
Almost six million foreigners travel to Brazil every year. It is estimated that another half a million will travel to Brazil for the Olympics, just under half of whom are expected to be Americans. Travellers returning from the Olympics could carry Zika back to the US, but it’s only a matter of time before that happens anyway. With its warm, humid climate, much of the US south is an ideal habitat for the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the transmitter of Zika virus.
No, no and thrice no you stupid fucking idiot. Zika is not about the spread of a particular species of mosquito. It is also not (as Bill Mckibben seems to think) about climate change. It is about the spread of a specific virus among an extant distribution of mosquitos. Just as with malaria outbreaks.
The mozzie feeds on an infected human (or other animal). This infects the mozzie, which then infects the next feeding platform, human or other animal. You can have a vast population of the relevant mozzie and as long as no infected humans (or other animals) enter that population then Zika will not spread. To misappropriate a phrase from elsewhere, there’s a co-dependency here. There is no mozzie to mozzie transmission of Zika, as there isn’t with malaria.
This is hugely important. For, for example, the way to stop it moving from, say, Brazil to the Southern US, where there is that resident mozzie population which could be infected, is to stop people with Zika moving from Brazil to the US.
It’s only if you understand what is actually happening that you can produce a solution. No, I don’t actually recommend banning human travel. But it really is sod all to do with coal burning or even mozzie populations spreading. It’s an infection within extant mozzie populations.