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Mao Zedong’s Sparrow Campaign Caused One of the Worst Environmental Disasters in History

Mao made waves across the world when he established the People’s Republic of China, but did you know that he also caused a huge environmental disaster?

Mich Escultura





Under Mao Zedong’s leadership, China underwent a series of changes to improve and modernize life for its citizens. One of these campaigns had to do with eradicating sparrows because they were eating too much grain. This was called the Four Pests Campaign (or Kill a Sparrow Campaign), which was part of the Great Leap Forward, undertaken between 1958 and 1962. The four pests in the campaign were rats, flies, mosquitoes, and sparrows.

Citizens were given the order to do whatever they could to eradicate the birds. This included beating drums to scare them off from landing, which forced them to fly until they died of exhaustion. People also shot down sparrows and tore down their nests. It also gave people something to do with all their free time. Their goal was to push the birds close to extinction in China.

Sparrows were said to eat too much grain, so the Chinese government wanted them eliminated.

Mao, who was neither an ecologist, nor a farmer, personally identified mosquitoes, flies, rats, and sparrows as pests that needed to be eradicated. He claimed that the Eurasian tree sparrow needed to be killed because they ate grain seeds, mobilizing masses of Chinese people to kill off the birds. Bird nests were torn down, eggs were broken, and nestlings were killed.

Killing sparrows became a morbid sort of national pastime.

“Mao knew nothing about animals. He didn’t want to discuss his plan or listen to experts. He just decided that the ‘four pests’ should be killed,” environmental activist Dai Qing told the BBC.

Schools, work units, and government agencies that killed the most pests would get recognition or rewards.

And people were quick to join in as they wanted to show their support for their government.

Researchers at the time may have thought this was a good idea but in reality, the Chinese were orchestrating their own doom. Millions upon millions of sparrows were killed which meant there were less birds to feed on crop pests like locusts. This led to a huge infestation of locusts which ate everything in their path.

Rural areas collapsed because of the surge of locusts and this led to a huge famine. An estimated 45 million people died because of the famine. Others even resorted to cannibalism, a topic which was extensively written about in a book called Tombstone by Chinese journalist Yang Jisheng.

With the sparrows gone, locusts infested all the crops, leading to what is now called Mao's Great Famine

Mao eventually ordered the end of the campaign against sparrows, but the people, the economy, and most of all, the environment, took decades to fully recover.

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6 Strange Historical Objects that Remain Unsolved up to Now

History and strange artifacts never really did mix well. Mysteries are often left unsolved for several millennia.

Kat Lozada



The thing with history is that it spans thousands of years and people from our time will never really know the exact things that have happened in the past. Historians can only piece together a story based on the data and facts gathered. Artifacts excavated by archaeologists can only confuse us all the more because of questions brought up.

In fact, there have been so many diggings which have made these researches much more interesting and fun. Several historical objects have been unearthed that historians have yet to explain what these were even made for:

1. Giant stone spheres of Costa Rica

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5 Forgotten and Scary Children’s Toys from the Past

Mika Castro



No matter what age they are, giving toys as gifts to children seem like a good idea - especially if the toys are not only fun, but educational too. Toys can promote fine motor skills, memory and imagination or even linguistics skills for children.

However, there are toys from the past that are so grotesque in concept, you would probably ask, "What the hell were the manufacturers thinking?" Allow us to present to you 5 scary toys from the past that could send any child scampering in fear. Next Christmas, you might consider giving these and its guarantee that your nephews and niece or godchildren will never visit you again! *evil laugh*

1. Creeping Baby Doll

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The Ancient Roman City of Timgad Reveals Remarkable Modern Grid Design

This city ruins is one of the best surviving examples of the grid plan used by the ancient Roman city planners.

Jamie Casadores



In 1765, when Scottish explorer James Bruce discovered an ancient city partly buried in the sands of the Algerian desert. He did not realize that he was actually standing above the ruins of the largest Roman Empire settlement ever built in North Africa — the ancient city of Thamugadi, now called Timgad.

The ruins of Timgad offer us a glimpse of ancient Roman urban planning at its height with its precise design and modern grid plan. Located on the slopes of Aures Massif in what is now known as Algeria, it was built nearly 2,000 years ago by the Roman Emperor Trajan.

The city was originally designed as a perfect square, 355 meters long on each side. The angled design was highlighted by the decumanus maximus (east-west oriented street) and the cardo (north-south-oriented street) lined by a Corinthian colonnade.

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