The Dust Bowl and Climate Change

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The 1930s were a time of crises in the Great Plains, but the Dust Bowl was particularly devastating. Although the 1930s drought was more severe than the mid-1890s dust storms, and the 1930s population was much larger, the federal government responded very differently than it had in past crises. It felt that it had no responsibility or popular mandate to respond to the crisis. In fact, it was the farmers themselves who tended to help farmers recover from the crisis.

Since the 1930s, many farmers in the heartland have improved their farming practices and some climate change-related droughts are making these areas increasingly dry. Some scientists wonder whether the U.S. breadbasket will be ravaged by another Dust Bowl-like crisis. Here are some things to consider:

The first cause of the Dust Bowl was a drought in the mid to late 1930s. Dry, hot winds picked up huge amounts of dust and blew it across the plains. The dust storms covered the air and sometimes settled in cracks in houses. In fact, the dust storms lasted days, with the sky darkening for days. It pushed farm families to the west and created a migrant labor industry. But while the Dust Bowl caused the destruction of many communities, the consequences were immense.

The Dust Bowl caused severe drought and depopulation in the Midwest in the 1930s. It killed 7,000 people and left two million people homeless. As a result, a cascade effect began to occur in U.S. agriculture, forcing the government to introduce aid programs. However, a few years later, the drought had returned. Until the early 1950s, the worst-affected counties experienced a dramatic decline in their populations.

In 1935, the government created agencies and programs to help the affected families. The Emergency Relief Appropriation Act, the Farm Security Administration, and the Resettlement Administration, among others, were created. The Farm Security Administration and the Soil Conservation Service worked to plant trees as windbreaks on farmland throughout the Great Plains. These agencies helped to implement new farming methods to combat soil erosion. Today, they are called the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The Depression and its aftermath has left an indelible mark on American history. The Dust Bowl is closely linked with black and white photographs by Dorothea Lange and Arthur Rothstein. The music of Woody Guthrie and the songs he wrote during the period are evocative. A variety of artistic expressions, such as paintings and music, are also associated with the Dust Bowl. These works contributed to the cultural memory of the region and helped define its role in American popular culture.

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The dust caused by the Great Depression affected a wide region of the Great Plains. It was accompanied by drought and strong winds. Farmers began removing native grasses and replanting them with crops. The new crops did not grow well during the drought, and the topsoil became exposed. Consequently, powerful winds lifted dusty dust over the plains and deposited it in east coast cities. As a result, millions of people fled to the western states.

June 27, 2022



Agriculture Ecology

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