The Dust Bowl of America

History always has a lesson to teach us. What does the Dust Bowl of America teach us ? And have we learnt our lesson ?

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The Dust Bowl of America is commonly used to refer to the great drought and dust storms that occurred in 1930’s on the great plains of America. Early explorers found that the great plains of America mostly the region around Kansas,New Mexico and Oklahoma to be unfit for agriculture. It was mostly because of the dry nature of the area and it became popularly known as the great desert of America.

Decades after, when civil war was over, new settlements came to the area. At the age of industrial revolution, new farming technologies became available. New tractors and ploughing machines came out and made agriculture easier and cheaper. During that period, most of the people in the plain areas, used the chance and used new technology to plough the lands and cultivate the soil. Agriculture in the region tripled in that decade. But little that people knew that the top soil with grass on them was keeping the soil together. And as the top soil became loose due to the ploughing, the soil became loose. And during the 1930’s the region was affected by drought as rain fall decreased. The soil became more and more dry. And as winds blew, the soil blew along with the wind in form of dust storm with nothing in between to stop them.

The drought lasted for a decade. The dust storms blew as far as Washington DC and New York city in the east. People knew they were to blame. They tired to plant trees to keep the soil together but that does not seem to work. The government of America promoted new ways to cultivate the soil such as crop rotation and terrace farming to reduce the dust storms. The government was so desperate that it gave people a dollar an acre to cultivate using terrace farming. The dust storms continued till the end of the decade till the rain began to pick up.

Apart from the long term economic impacts, lots of people became homeless due to the storms. People moved from one place to another. More than 500,000 americans were left homeless.

The main cause for the dust bowl is because of improper methods of cultivation. To simply put up, humans thought they could exploit mother earth as per their will without knowing the consequences. Improper development without understanding the impact that it has on environment has been a cause for plenty of disasters. Have we learnt from our mistakes ?

Maybe not. Still many of the human disasters are because of improper development. Chennai floods, Ooty landslide to name a few disasters in Tamil Nadu alone. How long are we going to exploit our resources on the assumption that everything will be all right? How long are we going to believe that everything is fine? The melting of glaciers, the thinning of Ozone layer. Aren’ these prove enough? Isn’t it the time we respect out planet and begin to change our very way of lives?

What are your thoughts ? Comment below.


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