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The Dust Bowl - Research Paper Example

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For most people, it seems apt fare for PBS or The Discovery Channel, but as a phenomenon that ordinary people were forced to…
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The Dust Bowl
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Download file to see previous pages Egan describes it “as if a curtain were being drawn across a vast stage at world’s end.”1 Much of Egan’s prose has this biblical tinge to it, and it strikes the proper tone for a disaster that seemed like a foretaste of Doomsday.
A catastrophic symbiosis occurred. The region’s residents suffered crippling economic and personal privation from which most never recovered; similarly, the region sustained a devastating physical transformation from which it has never fully recovered. And there is irony of biblical proportions at work here, in that the people who endured such abject misery were the same ones who were responsible for the most spectacular climactic shift in American history.
The land that farmers so freely exploited was part of an exquisitely delicate eco-system. The pristine grasslands which massive herds of buffalo had kept in check created a root system that held fine, fertile soil in place. When the buffalo were exterminated, the plains Indians whose subsistence depended on them moved further west, leaving only white settlers concerned with profiting from the richness of the land. That meant clearing away the grasses. When the Depression hit and wheat prices fell, farmers were forced to increase their yields, clearing more and more grass in order to do so. Millions of tons of dust were picked up by the highest winds in the United States, rendering bare survival problematic.
Farmers found themselves incapable of adjusting to the situation, and agricultural profitability in the region suffered. “During the Depression and through at least the 1950s, there was limited relative adjustment of farmland away from activities that became relatively less productive in more –eroded areas.”2 In the more-eroded counties, attempts at agricultural adjustment resulted in a recovery of less than 25 percent of initial losses.3 One of the most remarkable aspects of the Dust Bowl, and which speaks to the sheer ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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