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Dust bowl - Research Paper Example

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The Dust Bowl The Dust Bowl is the name given by Geiger in 1935 to the area of the Great Plains in the United States of America and the environmental disaster which occurred there in the 1930s ( National Drought Mitigation Center, 2012). This was at a time when America was already suffering from the effects of the Depression, which had begun in 1929 with the Wall Street Crash…
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Download file to see previous pages Henderson, a member of an affected farming family, describes the years before the storms came as a golden age ( 2001, page 15) In the 1930s though things changed dramatically. It became a period of scarce rainfall and high winds, both of which passed over the very light, over worked, soils of the region. The storms began in 1931. In 1932, as described by Ganzel (2003) 14 storms were recorded, and each year the number increased. Farmers however continued to plough and sow, destroying the established grassland. The drought which lasted from 1934 to 1937, affected 27 states according to Nelson (undated) and in the Dustbowl area poor farming practice meant that there were no longer plants whose roots had held the soil together. Black blizzards ensued, especially from the north. This was when the strong winds lifted the light, loose top soil and swirled it around into dense, choking dust clouds. In some area the dust was so dense it acted more like snow, forming high drifts, and even completely covering some farm buildings. The winds were so strong at times that they could move heavy trucks ( Hankel, quoted by Ganzel, 2003) with winds of more than 100 miles per hour. The cattle were choked, and even preparing or eating a meal became almost impossible. Carlson (( quoted by Ganzel , 2003) said that :- The impact is like a shovelful of fine sand flung against the face. …People caught in their own yards grope for the doorstep. Cars come to a standstill, for no light in the world can penetrate that swirling murk... We live with the dust, eat it, sleep with it, watch it strip us of possessions and the hope of possessions. It is becoming Real. The result for farmers and their families was that 60% of the population was forced to quit the area, leaving in many cases farms they had lived on for several generations. According to Nelson (undated ) the devastation lasted until the rains finally returned in 1939, but by then skilled workers had left for farm land elsewhere or for the cities of the distant West. The Government was well aware of the problems and did try to help over an extended period. In 1933 President Roosevelt brought in the Emergency Farm Mortgage Act and the Farm Credit Act ( Segraves, 2012) to help farmers facing foreclosure, in many cases because crops had failed and animals had died. In September of the same year the Federal Surplus Relief Organization was set up after a public outcry about the waste of such things as meat. Agricultural goods, including cotton clothing, were sent to relief organizations. The Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 allowed the government to nationalize large areas and then to control such things as grazing. This did a good job in halting any further deterioration caused by over farming methods, but did not actually reverse matters because the top soil was already lost. Nelson (undated) quotes from the Agricultural Year Book of 1934 :- Approximately 35 million acres of formerly cultivated land have essentially been destroyed for crop production. . . . 100 million acres now in crops have lost all or most of the topsoil; 125 million acres of land now in crops are rapidly losing topsoil. Early in 1935 the Government a Drought Relief Service designed to co-ordinate efforts from a number of agencies. This service bought up cattle from ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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