Saturday, July 11, 2015

China's 4 Pest Mistake...!

If we have learned anything over the years, it's that is not a good idea to mess with Mother Nature.

Sometimes the people in charge think they know better than nature about how things should be done. Making changes can have disastrous results.

The Four Pests Campaign

Photo credit: US National Library of Medicine

It’s never a good idea to screw around with nature, even if you’re an all-powerful dictator. But Mao Zedong wasn’t exactly an expert when it came to conservation, so when he initiated the “Four Pests Campaign” in 1958, he thought he was saving China from all its ills and woes.

Much like Stalin over in the Soviet Union, Chairman Mao wanted to push China out of its agrarian past into a modern, 20th-century future. For example, he wanted to rid China of plague and pestilence, so he decided to eliminate four particularly irritating animals: mosquitoes, flies, rats, and sparrows. While the bugs and rats carried all sorts of diseases, the birds had a bad habit of raiding grain and rice farms. Chinese scientists crunched a few numbers and concluded that one single sparrow eats 4.5 kilograms (10 lb) of grain each year. So if you killed a million sparrows, that’s food for 60,000 hungry people.

Inspired by the “science,” Mao initiated the Great Sparrow Campaign. A massive propaganda machine churned out thousands of posters featuring bright-eyed children and dead sparrows. Workers built scarecrows and flags to scare the birds, and people marched through town, banging pots and pans to frighten the sparrows away.

Birds were poisoned, eggs were crushed, and special zones were set up where marksmen and women could pick off sparrows as they flew by. Some say hundreds of millions of birds died, while others put the number at one billion. Whatever the death toll, the Four Pests Campaign nearly drove sparrows in China to extinction. Then the locusts showed up.

When doing their calculations, those Chinese scientists forgot an important piece of information. Birds keep insects in check. If you remove sparrows from the equation, things get real biblical real fast, and in 1960, the bugs absolutely destroyed Chinese crops, forcing Mao to remove the sparrow from his Four Pests Campaign. (Our fine feathered friend was replaced with the bedbug.)

Though it wasn’t the only factor involved, the Sparrow Campaign certainly played a key part in bringing about the Great Chinese Famine. The famine lasted four long years, and by the time it was over, approximately 30 million people were dead.

You would think that after all this time, we would finally start to get the message. However, mankind can be his own worst enemy, it seems. I wonder how many more times nature will kick us in the butt before we finallyt start to get the message?

Coffee out on the patio, even though it's hot already.


Joel said...

None so blind than the one who does not want to see.

Anonymous said...

No why would we :-)
There's nothing as arrogant as the human being I'm afraid. We keep on doing the same things over and over again. Just because something failed nine times it doesn't mean it will the tenth :-) :-) :-)

Have a great day!

Sixbears said...

Reminds me of when the killed all the cats during the Black Death.

Mamahen said...

Even I with my phobia of birds can see how this would not be a cool peach cream pie to share so save me a seat I'm on my way :))

JO said...

This kind of thinking never ends. We see it all the time, lets bring this in to get rid of this and then that thing becomes a huge mistake.
Oh well pretty day on the Mountain so far. But I'll join you all on the patio

HermitJim said...

Hey Joel...
Unfortunately we see only what we want to see. It's a shame, that's for sure!
Thanks for stopping by today!

Hey Christer...
Man can sure be arrogant at times, I'm afraid. We don't seem to learn well from our own mistakes, either.
Thanks, my friend, for coming over today!

Hey Sixbears...
Had just about the same side effect as well. Not much changes, does it?
Thanks for the visit this morning!

Hey Mamahen...
That pie sounds really good to me. Gotta love peach season!
Thanks for coming over today!

HermitJim said...

Hey Jo...
I'll bet it is pretty in the mountains. It does seem that we keep on repeating the same type of mistakes over and over.
Thanks, sweetie, for dropping by today!

Dizzy-Dick said...

It is not nice to mess with Mother Nature, she just may fight back.