Return of the Dust Bowl

America's Tragic Past May Become a Reality


In the morning the dust hung like fog, and the sun was as red as ripe new blood. All day the dust sifted down from the sky, and the next day it sifted down. An even blanket covered the earth. It settled on the corn, piled up on the tops of the fence posts, piled up on the wires; it settled on roofs, blanketed the weeds and trees. — John Steinbeck, “The Grapes of Wrath”

The Dust Bowl of the Dirty Thirties

Between 1930 and 1940, the southwestern Great Plains region of the United States suffered a severe drought. Once a semi-arid grassland, the treeless plains became home to thousands of settlers when, in 1862, Congress passed the Homestead Act. Most of the settlers farmed their land or grazed cattle. The farmers plowed the prairie grasses and planted dry land wheat. As the demand for wheat products grew, cattle grazing was reduced, and millions more acres were plowed and planted.

Dry land farming on the Great Plains led to the systematic destruction of the prairie grasses. In the ranching regions, overgrazing also destroyed large areas of grassland. Gradually, the land was laid bare, and significant environmental damage began to occur. Among the natural elements, the strong winds of the region were particularly devastating.

Arizona Dust Storm: Amazing Time-Lapse of Phoenix 'Haboob'

Dust Bowl 2013?

The Dust Bowl was not necessarily a thing of the past. Unfortunately for Americans today, this horrible tragedy may soon be a reality. One reason is because one of the largest bodies of water used to irrigate the majority of farming land is being depleted quickly. “Water drawn from the Ogallala Aquifer is used to water more than 15 million acres of crops. Without this source of water, the United States would not be the breadbasket of the world,” (The Economic Collapse). Another reason a second dust bowl may affect the U.S. is because a severe drought has become common in the farming regions of America. “Secondly, drought conditions have become the "new normal" in many areas of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and other states in the middle part of the country,” (TEC).