Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

This is why they're taking it slow; they're not worried about knock on issues with our herd immunity. They're worried about ecological collapse.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Pests_Campaign

"The "Four Pests" campaign was introduced in 1958 by Mao Zedong, as a hygiene campaign aimed to eradicate the pests responsible for the transmission of pestilence and disease: the mosquitos responsible for malaria; the rodents that spread the plague; the pervasive airborne flies; and the sparrows – specifically the Eurasian tree sparrow – which ate grain seed and fruit.[1]

[...]

By April 1960, Chinese leaders changed their opinion due to the influence of ornithologist Tso-hsin Cheng[2] who pointed out that sparrows ate a large number of insects, as well as grains.[8][9] Rather than being increased, rice yields after the campaign were substantially decreased.[10][9] Mao ordered the end of the campaign against sparrows, replacing them with bed bugs, as the extermination of the former upset the ecological balance, and bugs destroyed crops as a result of the absence of natural predators. By this time, however, it was too late. With no sparrows to eat them, locust populations ballooned, swarming the country and compounding the ecological problems already caused by the Great Leap Forward, including widespread deforestation and misuse of poisons and pesticides.[10] Ecological imbalance is credited with exacerbating the Great Chinese Famine, in which 20–45 million people died of starvation.[11][12][Emphasis added]"




Its important to differentiate b/w the plans of a politician and the plans of research scientists who have done actual work in this area. Mao's plans seem to have been a hare-brained solution to China's problems (and they're not the only one. Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward cost more lives than both the world wars... and they were all Chinese lives).


> "Its important to differentiate b/w the plans of a politician and the plans of research scientists who have done actual work in this area."

Not really, because the general public won't take such care with the differentiating. The more scientists deliberately exterminate or cull animals, the more the public will grow accustomed to the idea of humanity taking such an active violent role in the environment. And the more the public grow accustomed to that idea, the more they'll be willing to fall in line behind politicians who try to do the same. Particularly when those politicians claim science as their justification (numerous disastrous examples in the 20th century.)

The ethical analysis performed by scientists looking to justify exterminations should include the social impact of their actions. Scientist and engineer sorts often loath considering such factors.


If you're going to weigh the social factors in wiping out the 20-something species of mosquitoes which feed on humans (out of > 3000), I think you need to factor in the possibility that malaria (and thus mosquitos) may be responsible for HALF of human deaths in our history.

Half. That's an outrageous number, but Nature suggests it might be true: https://www.nature.com/news/2002/021003/full/news021001-6.ht...

At what point do you think we are ethically clear to take drastic action against another species? How many more human lives need to be lost before you think it's OK?

JackCh 10 months ago [flagged]

Half of human deaths isn't very significant considering that despite that the human population is still exploding at an unsustainable rate that will cause incredible environmental destruction if left unchecked. Far from being threatened with extinction, our present course will cause the extinction of countless other forms of life.

And in response to that, you propose that we deliberately drive even more species to extinction for the purpose of making the problem even worse?

> "How many more human lives need to be lost before you think it's OK?"

If they were a threat to the survival of our species, I would sign off on it. Plainly they are not.

How many more species must be exterminated before you decide the planet is safe enough for humanity? When will the Disney Worldification of the planet be sufficient for you? Maybe Disney World levels of safety from wildlife aren't even sufficient for you? https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/animalia/wp/2017/11/03/d...


It's rare to see someone state so plainly that they just don't care about human life.

It makes it clear that I have no common ground for this kind of discussion with that person.


I think he's more concerned about not conceding is original point wasn't thought through; so rather than losing face, he advocates mass extinction of human beings, over mass extinction of a tiny number of mosquitoes.

That sort of trading genocide for one's own ego is Maoist and Stalinist, and it is really no different from their thought processes. Thankfully though stable political systems marginalize low-rank people like this. (Thus, be very afraid of revolutions).


Would you please stop using HN for ideological battle? This is a significant step to the worse in what was already a terrible subthread.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


> "he advocates mass extinction of human beings"

Far from it, this is not even remotely a possibility. Mosquitoes are not threatening humanity with extinction in any conceivable way. As I stated elsewhere in this thread yesterday, if humanity were actually threatened by mosquitoes, I would support their eradication.


Humanity is important but humanity is not currently being threatened. If humanity were actually being threatened I would support the eradication of any species threatening it.


OK, you care about humanity as a species.

But apparently not about thousands or millions of individual humans dying.


Please don't do this kind of flamewar on HN. They're all the same and all off topic here. Ditto for https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17502054.

You lowered the discussion significantly by taking it in an inflammatory direction, yielding flamey responses, which you then fed. I don't think you were trolling on purpose, but it has much the same effect. We're trying to avoid that, please don't post that way here.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Its easy to want lower human mortality when you’ve already benefited from greatly increased human mortality due to scientific progress.


I think you meant the opposite of what you wrote, i.e. 'want bigger human mortality ... benefited from greatly reduced human mortality'


It's easy to ignore the destruction of the environment if all you care about is optimizing for the human race at the expense of all other species.


[flagged]


The only genocide being proposed in this thread is the mass extermination of mosquitoes.


Imagine if half of all the humans who have died didn't.

How screwed would we all be right now.

Of course it doesn't work quite like that, but still. We might save enough humans to destroy the planet faster than we can fix it ... now solve that one without doing something "evil"!


Birth control / contraceptives are pretty effective against overpopulation.

Most parents prefer having one, two or three healthy kids rather than ten and losing half of them to malaria.


The speed of "fixing" the planet scales faster than the human load on it due to economies of scale - imagine today's population with the agricultural techniques of antiquity. It would be complete global annihilation of us and everything else.


We can thank the Chinese for their bold experiments in recent history to give us some significant real-world examples to back up our cautions about the risks of ecosystem engineering.

I think we should get into ecosystem engineering (it will be a tech, like anything else, capable of good or bad), but it's too powerful now and our knowledge / control is too limited. Thanks Mao.


This is how we start Jurassic Park, btw.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: