What Caused the Dust Bowl
A number of catastrophic events have been witnessed across the world. Hurricanes have hit the United States of America’s coastal regions causing tremendous damage to the ecosystem as a whole. Earthquakes have been witnessed in Japan and Hawaii causing quite a number of deaths and property damage. However, besides these catastrophic events having a serious impact on the environment, there have been technological developments that enable people to be prepared for them causing lesser damage than before. Among these catastrophic events, is the one-time Dust Bowl that was a period of dust storms in the American and partly Canadian prairies in the 1930s. Besides being a natural disaster that had a serious impact on the American and Canadian natural environment and economy, it was a revelation of the negative effects of human activities on the environment. Therefore, it can be argued that the Dust Bowl was triggered by human activities that threatened the human survival on earth. Additionally, it acted as a warning from nature to human beings to re-evaluate and review their interaction with the environment.
The Dust Bowl was triggered by wrong human activities such as farming. the Dust Bowl affected the Great Plains which were never used for farming before until the Europeans arrived in the American soil. These lands were never used for cultivation, but cattle farming was widely practiced in the region. After the long droughts during the late 19th century is when farmers embarked on cultivating the lands to plant various crops especially wheat. Although it is said that the plants did well, the farming methods that were employed in the region were erroneous and inapplicable in the area and climatic conditions. The farmers never used various techniques such as fallow fields, crop rotation, cover crops and other soil erosion prevention methods that could have prevented the soil from being eroded. After a couple of decades of extensive farming, the soil became exhausted, and a severe drought hit the region accomplishing the negative impact of human activities on the environment. The bottom line, a land that was initially farmland is now a desert since the soil had turned into dust. Therefore, the Dust Bowl had occurred as the effect of negative human activities on what was initially considered as the fertile lands of the American and Canadian Great Plains.
The Dust Bowl was largely influenced by the climatic conditions of the region. The Great Plains is dry and windy (winds reach 60mph speed). During the 1800s, the U.S government had built a massive network of railroads across the country. In 1862, it promised free land to those who would migrate to the plains for a span of five years. The incentive of free land accelerated the migration with the help of railroads. Those who settled there planted a variety of crops and engaged in extensive farming. Between 1909 and 1932, more than 30 million acres were under extensive farming while others were under the cultivation process. It was a huge profit for the farmers, but they ignored one important land protection factor, the grass. The more they expanded their cultivation land, the grass became depleted exposing the soil to the sun. During the 1920s, the farmers invented new, fast and effective farming methods. New equipment was introduced, and this encouraged the farmers to work harder than before so that they can yield maximum profits. Those who did not afford the equipment rented them and doubled their efforts so that they can be able to pay the rent and manage some profit. During the late 1920s, the country’s economy went into a decline, and this was a motivation for the farmers to double their efforts. At the beginning of the 1930s, farmers in the southern plains cultivated more wheat and even plowed lands that could not have been tilled. The bottom line, the land was abused to the maximum. During this period, the drought intensified, and nothing was to grow, the land became dry and titanic winds blew the ground away creating giant clouds of dust that covered the sky and harmed people. These giant dust clouds made the survival of human beings extremely difficult. These winds began to create “black blizzards” in 1931. During the following year, the dust storms increased dramatically to 14 and reached 32 in 1933.
The Dust Bowl effects were disastrous to both the environment and human beings. Since then, there were regular dust storms that reached the Eastern US coast affecting large cities such as New York. What was initially a fertile land, the Great Plains became inappropriate for farming, and the farmers moved to other states together with their families in search of new jobs. As a matter of fact, the Dust Bowl had aggravated the negative economic impacts of the Great Depression in the country. Farmers who managed to get out of the Great Plains had no option but to be hired at low wages or be unemployed. For survival reasons, most of them chose the former over the latter.
Tremendous natural catastrophes have caused a lot of damage to the environment ruining the lives and spirit of the people, but they have united them and taught them how to stay positive during hard times. Conversely, they have made the human race learn from its mistakes. People have learned from these events and prevent them from happening and if they cannot prevent, predict the time they will happen and prepare themselves. In case they occur, people have learned that they will have to stand together as they did with the Dust Bowl.
In conclusion, the Dust Bowl was both a natural and human catastrophe that was triggered by human activities such as inappropriate farming methods. Every event has both negative and positive lessons, from the Dust Bowl we learn that it is important to conserve the soil and employ environmentally friendly farming methods which prevent soil erosion. On the other hand, the Dust Bowl acts as a warning to human beings, and we need to prevent the negative impacts to the environment that result from our activities. If we prevent them from observing our activities on nature, we can succeed in avoiding natural disasters.