Dust Bowl

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Remembering the Dust Bowl

The Dust Bowl was a significant event in our country's history that had various lasting effects on American Society. Social, economic, and political changes occurred because of this disastrous and difficult time in America. The Dust Bowl was a turning point in the Great Plaines, moreover, Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, and a small portion of Texas. It changed life as Americans knew it during the 1930’s. It created a large economic and agricultural recession. This left the United States in a greater deficit than it previously stood which was originally created by the Great Depression. The Dust Bowl retrieved its name after Black Sunday on April 14, 1935. Prior to 1935 many dust storms had occurred. In 1932 a calculation of fourteen dust storms were recorded in the Plains and by 1938 there were a total of 38 storms recorded. The Dust Bowl is described as one of the most catastrophic events of the early 1900s. The Great Plains was a region of the United States that witnessed 100 million acres of topsoil being stripped from over used farmland. It was characterized by many factors such as poor farming practices, severe wind storms, and droughts lasting several years. It was an immense and powerful storm that literally covered the Midwest and blanketed many states by making their acres of farmland highly unusable. One analytic historian inquired, “Ultimately it resulted in the activation of a geomorphic process (intense wind erosion) which, when human society could not adapt to it, cascaded into unprecedented agricultural, economic, and societal collapse in its core region.” (A Critical Evaluation of the Dust Bowl and its Causes).The Dust Bowl is frequently referred back to as an example of a manmade environmental disaster. However, the destruction primarily affected the farming in the Great Plains because the terrain is mostly grassland and it relies on the root systems of grasses to hold down the topsoil necessary for producing crops. Unfortunately, popular farming practices that were utilized to preserve top soil were not used to prevent this occurrence. This inquisition, along with weather conditions, provided insight as a few causes of the Dust Bowl.

Although humans were not the main cause of the Dust Bowl, they played an active role. Poor agricultural practices and years of constant drought caused the Dust Bowl. During the years when there was a sufficient amount of rainfall, the farmland produced an immense amount of vegetation and crops. Vegetation and crops are supposed to be grown according to the type of crop they are, and based on the crop type they are placed in specific areas around the field. In addition, farmers also began to plow the natural grass cover and plant their own crops. Since the original root systems of the grass were not available to hold down the soil, most of it blew away and disintegrated. The wide row crops were catastrophic because between the crops, the land was kept plain. The soil became exhausted because the nutrients in it were being utilized by the plants quicker than they could be replaced. This in effect, caused droughts to occur during the early 1930s. Farmers continued planting and plowing, and as expected, nothing would cultivate and the ground cover that concealed the nutrient filled soil was diminished. Since there was nothing left to secure the topsoil, the land became easily accessible for enormous amounts of dust to be blown huge distances by the winds in the area. . By 1934, it calculated that over 100 million acres of farmland had lost most or all their topsoil to the winds. These winds varied anywhere from zero to sixty five miles per hour. The southern Plains winds’ thrashed across the farmlands and fields which raised billowing clouds to the sky. As winds picked up and crops died, more dust storms began to occur. For days on end the sky could darken, and in some areas the dust glided similarly to snow, layering farmsteads. An...
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