Causes and Impact of the Disaster

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The 1930s can be recorded as one of the worst moments for some of the farmers in the United States and Canada. Mather nature caused severe damages to their plantations leading to massive loss of property, jobs, and an economic depression in these countries. However, it is documented that the farming methods and expectations applied by these farmers were a primary cause to the disaster. Even though these affected regions had to bear with these losses, famine, and drought but there was a group of people that would have been accountable to these losses. President Roosevelt crafted specific measures that would be applied in calming the affected farmers urging them to plant a few crops to sustain family needs (Duncan 65). According to documentation by Lüsted, Casteel and Conn (52), the period lasted for six years {1930 to 36} creating an economic problem with the environment turning against many Americans. The majority of the citizenry in these regions lived in the Great Plains and the southwest that consists of Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, and Oklahoma. This paper discusses the laxity of Roosevelt’s administration in minimizing the hardships in that period relating to the causes and impact of the disaster.

Literature Review

Causes of the Disaster

            Farming practices in these regions were a significant player to the incident as farmers applied poor agricultural practices on their lands. For instance, leaving a large piece of land without any plantations minimizes chances of wind breakage. The farmers in this region practiced extensive farming combined with severe drought which later increased the chances of the wind blow. The occupants on these pieces of land had to resort to migration as an appropriate alternative creating significant levels of congestion in these places. Sweeney (31) Also states that majority of the native people had coped up with the situation like the previous nomads. However, the preceding thirty years were so humid which then led to the migration of buffalos back to the southern prairies which then led the Comanches and Kiowas back to their land.

            Secondly, blame can be directed to the nation’s administration which did not pass the required notice to these occupants to have their land into proper use. Such risk plans may have created limited chances of such occurrences. Minimizing such risks would have been the priority for the Roosevelt administration thus improving the economy and living standards of the people from those regions. It can further be stated that there was an aspect of unjust expectations from the farmers on when the rains will fall prompting them to leave their lands without cultivations. Therefore, this poor communication and leadership skills can also be linked as one of the causes of the disaster. The public needed to be informed of the likely outcomes if the land is left plain without any plantations. Poor administration practices on alerting the people of a particular area are still practiced in the current era causing similar natural calamities in the world. The majority of these acts happen when the public has minimal information regarding its existence or are being informed at a very later stage that they can hardly make arrangements for relocation.

            Another cause may be the failure to honor payments to the plantation workers hence leaving the lands not cultivated. According to documentation by Worster (10), an estimated 3 million men and women lost their jobs and were out of work. The poor working conditions in the 19th century could hardly entice the occupants to carry on with the plantation practices. The industrial age in the United States also had a key role in the cause of the environmental disaster (Cordova and Porter 1710). Lastly, the heat waves are another cause of the environmental disaster. It is further stated by Boschat, Purich And Cowan (2440) that heat waves contain metric composites leaving the soil particles weak and exposed to erosion catalysts. Any small movement of winds across these plains will cause disaster to the humans and animals in that region.

Impact of the Disaster

            Even though people lost lives and property after the blow, migration was the immediate effect witnessed in these regions. Additionally, these pieces of land started becoming semi-arid which was then a situation that the occupants could not handle. People began, moving to the other areas to acquire a better life as they could not sustain the hardships brought by the strong winds. Nevertheless, the migrations further led to congestions in other areas as there were no relocation plans that were earlier made by the Roosevelt administration for the affected people. This congestion effect in these areas later led into a contraction of diseases among the occupants. The nation had to incur additional incomes to improve the health care in these regions and save more lives. Secondly, the country was faced with an economic depression for an extended period {an estimated 6-9 years after the occurrence} forcing the state to seek alternative measures to improve their economy. There was no income generated from these plantations as an estimated 3 million men and women losing their jobs.

            The disaster also led to an increase in capital-labor in the country. The industrial age was faced with an abundant manual-labor available for employment with the targets of bridging the gap on the incomes that was being generated in the industrial sector. Furthermore, the capital-labor available led to a decline in the wages as competition for these opportunities became high. Arthi (165) laments that the labor was formed after the massive destruction of agricultural produce collapsing the farm incomes. Diversity in the economic activities carried out in the country was then an alternative practice that would help in improving the living standards of that era. The cry for diversity was due to the fall in the stock market that transpired after the disaster with the state having to bear with decreased income generation.

            Programs were later being laid to unfold the issues of landscape degradation with the inclusion of climate gradients in the 1930s. The dust bowl had substantially reduced the agricultural land values to the less eroded regions (Hornbeck 1478). It is further stated that the unindustrialized land use was limited and slow inclusive of the short run-costs incurred by the farmers and the government. The residents were then being trained in alternative land use practices even as other eroded areas would not get back to full recovery. It was a practice that hardly provided satisfaction to every individual that was living in that region. Significant amounts of money had to be incurred by the affected parties to attain a particular level of stability before they subscribe to the alternative land use activities.

            Erosion prevention techniques was another impact realized after the occurrence of the blow. The infertility of the soil could hardly help the farmers achieve their agricultural goals. However, there was no chance of resorting to irrigation farming as there were very limited water sources in the region to support the huge aroid area. These human-made deserts could only support specific economic activities that these occupants would resort to generating minimum incomes to sustain a living. In the long run, innovations and commercial activities were being formed in these places with the occupants enjoying better communication services regarding any natural calamities that may occur if the land is put into improper use.


            In conclusion, the Dust Bowl calamity is considered as one of the greatest disasters on American soil in the 19th century. This paper has demonstrated the laxity of Roosevelt’s administration in minimizing the hardships in that period relating to the causes and impact of the disaster. Blame can further be put on the residents that did not pay much attention to the various activities that they would put on the land. Leaving the land plain gave higher opportunities to the wind to wash away the soil with no plants available to act as windbreakers. The affected regions took a long time to heal as constant migrations were being witnessed in the regions that could not get the required help.  The country also endured a lot of strain to improve their economy as more income was directed to rescue practices other than development practices. It was not easy to accommodate the estimated 3 million men and women that relocated to neighboring regions to attain better living standards.

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Works Cited

Arthi, Vellore. Human capital formation and the American Dust Bowl. Oxford: University of Oxford, 2016. Online.

BOSCHAT, GHYSLAINE, et al. "Factors Contributing to Record-Breaking Heat Waves over the Great Plains during the 1930s Dust Bowl." Journal of Climate (2017): 2437-2463. Ebscohost.

Cordova, Carlos, and Jess C. Porter. "The 1930s Dust Bowl: Geoarchaeological lessons from a 20th-century environmental crisis." Holocene (2015): 1707–1720. EBSCOhost.

Duncan, Dayton. The Dust Bowl: an illustrated history. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2012. Print.

Hornbeck, Richard. "The Enduring Impact of the American Dust Bowl: Short- and Long-Run Adjustments to Environmental Catastrophe." The American Economic Review (2012): 1477-1507. Online.

Lüsted, Marcia Amidon, Tom Casteel and Marla Conn. The Great Depression : experience the 1930s from the Dust Bowl to the New Deal. White River Junction, Vermont: Nomad Press, 2016. Print.

Sweeney, Kevin Z. Prelude to the Dust Bowl Drought in the Nineteenth-Century Southern Plains. Oklahoma: Norman University of Oklahoma Press, 2016. Print.

 Worster, Donald. Dust Bowl: the southern Plains in the 1930s. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. Print.

November 13, 2023


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