Dust Bowl essay

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During the 1930s, terrible clouds of dark dust were witnessed in the states of western Kansas, eastern New Mexico, western Texas, eastern Colorado, and the Oklahoma Panhandle. The clouds of dust are the ones that led to the Dust Bowl. The Dust Bowl was brought about by both human factor and ecological reasons. Following a prolonged drought, extremely high temperatures and powerful winds, these regions in the grasslands and plains were reduced to become a mere desert. Although droughts were still a common phenomenon in these regions, human factors must have aggravated the situation to reach its extreme.

The Texas State Historical Association claims that severe droughts occur in about every twenty years, with less severe ones occurring between three and four years. In these regions, there is regularly fewer than twenty inches of rainfall in a year. This rainfall is not enough to sustain large vegetation, but it is able to hold thick wild grass that has the ability to withstand harsh conditions. According to Timothy Egan, if the thick wild grass was stitched on the prairie, the roots of these grasses would hold down the regions soils. However, in the years between 1931 and 1937, the drought became so severe to an extent that grass did not survive leading to serious soil erosion by the wind. This grass not being present is what led to the Dust Bowl.

The Homestead Act of 1862 that awarded land free of charge to any individual who did not mind settling and living in the grassland area and prairie land shaped the great storm. This led to a major increase of farms. According to the Texas State Historical Association, in Texas alone, the number of farms increased from 436,038 in the year 1920 to 495,489 within a period of ten years. These were all farmers using the farms for agriculture. Due to the increased agricultural activities, people uprooted the grass that is found in the regions and thus made the soil loosen. This is because the soil dried since it was highly exposed to the dry weather conditions and thus defragmenting to sand.

The famers themselves must have caused the dust bowl. They would farm and at the same time graze their livestock on these lands thus depleting natural thick grass that covers the region. Normally, dry weather conditions have always been witnessed in the grassland area and prairie land, but such extreme conditions of sand storms had not been witnessed before. The human activities on the soil are the ones that exposed the soil so that it lost its humidity since there was no vegetation to hold the soil together with the little water in plants’ roots. This however led to the government taking measures to ensure that it prevents such an event again.

In May 1934, a dust storm covered the white house; this led to the government reacting to find a solution to the problem. The government had also realized that it were the increased farming activities that caused the dust bowl. This led to the creation of the Soil Conservation Services. The program was meant to re-possess this land from the occupants by the government by purchasing it from them. This would ensure that the natural vegetation would be left to grow uninterrupted. Laws were also put in place to ensure that there was no overgrazing or over farming on the lands that were left for the people. These measures by the government show that the dust bowl was mainly accelerated by human reasons. Thus, the reason the government decided to reduce human activity was to end the calamity and ensure it does not happen again. 

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