It was 1958 to 1962, The Great Leap Forward. Times were tough. Through the Communist Party of China and Mao, China was about to go from 0 to 100 real quick. Or they thought.
Naturally, just like any reasonable person would, Mao ordered the violent, inhumane extermination of all sparrows across China. This was called the Four Pests Campaign, if you’re interested.
But Mao had good intentions! He wanted to get rid of these feathery buggers so they wouldn’t eat grain seed and fruit. Like I said, good intentions.
So the people of China fought the sparrows to the death. They banged pots and pans around trees so the birds could never land and would die from exhaustion. Nests were destroyed. Eggs were broken. Chicks were slaughtered. Birds were sniped from the sky.
Here comes the irony.
Mao wanted to get rid of the birds to provide more food to the Chinese citizens. Because the sparrows ate the human food.
But instead, the elimination of sparrows from the food web caused an explosion in the insect population, which ate even more human food. Locusts swarmed the country and rice yields were even lower than before the campaign. Desperation ensued.
In other words, Mao’s silly attempt to remove birds from the dinner table resulted in the Great Chinese Famine and 45 million people died from starvation.