“If all insects on Earth disappeared, within 50 years all life on Earth would end.
If all human beings disappeared from the Earth, within 50 years all forms of life would flourish.”
— Biologist Jonas Salk, inventor of the Salk Polio Vaccine
My mother had polio has a child. She was one of the lucky ones who didn’t end up in an “iron lung” that breathed for you. When the Salk polio vaccine was made available she made sure my brother and I were first in line. When the Sabin live virus* vaccine came out we got that too and every booster shot that was available. Mom was going to make sure we never contracted polio
Human beings, in all our nearsightedness and ego driven behavior, may not be as hardy, as industrious, ubiquitous nor tenacious as insects. However, humans have an intellect capable of contemplating what would happen if all the insects disappeared and what would be the consequences if all human beings disappeared.
I’ve never known an insect contemplate anything close to that.
*Salk’s vaccine was composed of “killed” polio virus, which retained the ability to immunize without running the risk of infecting the patient. There was some evidence that the “killed” vaccine failed to completely immunize the patient. A few years later, the Sabine vaccine made from live polio virus was developed, which could be administered orally, while Salk’s vaccine required injection.
In the U.S., public health authorities elected to distribute the “live” oral vaccine instead of Salk’s. Tragically, the preparation of live virus infected some patients with the disease, rather than immunizing them. Since the introduction of the original vaccine, the few new cases of polio reported in the United States were probably caused by the “live” vaccine which was intended to prevent them.
(I’ve often wondered about live virus vaccines and whether Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue and other “unexplainable” conditions might be virus related.)