Friday, July 7, 2017

Clouds and Mosquitoes

Image from National Geographic Kids

Even if one is neutral on the subject of global warming, "all tropical diseases which are mosquito borne, are moving further and further from the equator," Robert Resendes, Director of El Paso's Health Department, tells us. More than any other animal, mosquitoes are responsible for more human deaths - 725,000 according to NASA's Earth Observer. Adam Voiland's June 28th story for the Earth Observer, Time to Hunt Some Blood-Sucking Bugs, describes the problem. Voiland tells us that NASA and the GLOBE (Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment) Program have come up with a way for you and me to help take some of the bite out of the mosquito scourge. It's especially an effective way for kids who love science to get involved. (Pay attention science teachers.) It's an app: Mosquito Habitat Mapper.

Voiland explains that the Mapper is . . .

". . .an app that makes it possible for citizen scientists to collect data on mosquito range and habitat and then feed that information to public health and science institutions trying to combat mosquito-borne illnesses. The app also provides tips on fighting the spread of disease by disrupting mosquito habitats. Specifically, it will help you find potential breeding sites, identify and count larvae, take photos, and clean away  pools of standing water where mosquitoes reproduce."

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To be sure, mosquito mapping and mashing isn't the only thing that NASA and GLOBE will do together. Their current app is just for you to observe clouds, take pictures and help scientists better understand atmospheric conditions. Soon the Mosquito Habitat Mapper will be added. Then you can watch clouds and help fight mosquito-borne diseases that kill so many people every year.

To get the app for cloud observation and to be first in line for the Mosquito Habitat Mapper go HERE. It will be much more worthwhile than snap-chatting, but then again, I'm a science nerd.

Click on image to enlarge or see bottom of Voiland's article.

One last comment about fighting mosquitoes. Did you know that our city's Health Department doesn't deal with mosquitoes although, as Resendes explains, the Health Department does work "closely with UTEP entomologists and Environmental Services Vector Control staff." Perhaps a little policy tweaking might be a good idea, if such tweaking is possible in a top-down/chain of command style of leadership currently entrenched in El Paso City government. Of course, I wouldn't know about such things.

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