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What is Dust Bowl: Causes and Effects

The Dust Bowl, also known as the "Dirty Thirties," was an era when a terrible wind blew dirty and loose sand devastated society, a...



The Dust Bowl, also known as the "Dirty Thirties," was an era when a terrible wind blew dirty and loose sand devastated society, agriculture and the economy of the American Midwest. At that time, the Midwest had already been destroyed by the Great Depression of 1930. Many historians consider the Dust Bowl to be the worst man-made disaster in American history. It was preceded by a prolonged drought and over-cultivation in anticipation of a higher wheat price. The farmers plowed up the grassland grasses that had held the ground together and sowed their wheat.

Cultivation and grazing on the US plains resulted in uniform and intense damage to the prairie grasses that exposed the soil. The winds blew over the plains, carried clouds of dust in so-called "black rollers", piled up on farms and were screened from the ceilings, and they jumped in through doors and windows. It also resulted in no visualization, death of people and livestock, mass migration to cities, environmental damage and a worsening of the Great Depression.

Human displacement

As a result of house destruction and the death of cattle in 1935, many families from Texas, Colorado, Kansa, Nebraska, and Oklahoma moved in search of work to support their families and pay bills. It is estimated that 3.5 million people from the U.S. Plains have been forced to seek refuge in California, with a record 86,000 people migrating each year. The migration was recorded as the largest in American history. Some did not travel long distances; they have just gone to the next state or city. Many families moved to other places without their property, where they were discriminated against, poor wages and low jobs.

Death of people and cattle

It is not clear how many people died, but it is estimated that it is somewhere between hundreds and thousands. Many had what is known as "dust pneumonia" in which they developed chest pain and difficulty breathing, some of which were fatal. The death occurred despite efforts by the Red Cross to hand out dust masks. However, the masks helped reduce mortality and prevent further complications. The dust blinded thousands of animals and suffocated a high percentage. Sand found its way into the animal's stomachs, causing them to die. There is no official documentation of the death of the Great Plain for humans or livestock.

Economic effects

The demolition of homes and other properties forced the farmers out of their business and with the already destroyed economy of the Great Depression, the standard of living of families deteriorated drastically. The harvested crops brought in low prices and were not enough for subsistence farming, so the federal government established Surplus Relief Corporation to ensure that surplus produce was destined to feed the hungry and poor. In 1933, farmers had to slaughter at least 6 million pigs to reduce supply and raise prices. By 1934, they had sold more than 10% of their farm produce and livestock.

The tons of earth blown away by the wind left the land bare and barren for decades. This erosion made it difficult for farmers to continue farming, resulting in a decline in yields for both human and animal consumption. Due to ongoing effects, approximately 21% of families in Great Plains have received assistance from the federal government. As a result, the government has been forced to overwhelm the people of California to raise enough money for relief supplies and health services for the migrants.

"Black Blizzards" strike on New York, Washington, DC

The devastating dust storms from the Great Plains, nicknamed "Black Blizzards," carried topsoil to the cities of New York and Washington, DC The clouds of dust darkened the sky and sometimes lodged in places in snow form, making removal difficult. Some of the dust got into the rooms through cracks in furniture, skin and contaminated food. On May 11, 1934, a dust storm traveled approximately 2,000 miles on the east coast, damaging the US Capitol and the Statue of Liberty Monument.

Dust Bowl on "Black Sunday"

On April 14, 1935, a strong wind displaced approximately 300 million tons of earth from the Great Plains, which first hit the Oklahoma Panhandle and Northwestern Oklahoma before moving south all day. Many books have been written about the day and one of the writers who worked for the New York Times wrote in The Worst Hard Time: "The storm carried twice as much dirt as it dug out of the earth for the Panama Canal. It took the canal seven years to dig; the storm lasted a single afternoon. More than 300,000 tons of Great Plains topsoil was in the air that day. "

The representation of the dust bowl in the arts

The many effects of the Dust Bowl captured the imaginations of artists, writers and musicians in the United States. The author John Steinbeck has drawn attention to the plight of migrants in his novel "The Grapes of Wrath" and portrayed the devastating health and poor social conditions of the time.

US Government Response

The US government's involvement in land management was strengthened after the disaster. Soil conservation programs have been put in place and the Soil Conservation Service has been created to oversee implementation. Immediately after the election of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, he took over the soil conservation programs and restored the nation's environmental conditions. It was under his leadership that more than 200 million trees were planted from Texas to Canada to act as windbreakers, hold soil in place, and retain water in the soil.

Government campaigns have been launched to encourage farmers to use plowing and planting methods that preserve the integrity of the soil. These campaigns resulted in the training of farmers in soil protection practices such as strip farming, terracing, contour plowing and crop rotation. By 1938, the methods of protection had produced fruits, and the amount of soil blown away was reduced to 65%; however, the land remains barren. A return of regular rain in 1938 ended the Dust Bowl period, but the government continues to encourage farmers to practice soil conservation methods to protect Great Plains ecology.