Dust Bowl : The Southern Plains Essay

Dust Bowl : The Southern Plains Essay

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In the book Dust Bowl: The Southern Plains in the 1930s the author, Donald Worster, makes the argument that the Dust Bowl was a mostly a direct result of farmer’s methods and misuse of the fragile plains environment. However, there were many other largely contributing factors to the Dust Bowl. While the farmer’s methods played a role, other factors such as economic decline, unusually high temperatures, an extended drought accompanied by and economic depression, and the resulting wind erosion were all factors that help explain The Dust Bowl.
Worster argues that the farmer’s ethos was the main cause of the Dust Bowl, however the causes of the Dust Bowl were mostly geographical. In his introduction Worster says it “came about because the culture was operating precisely the way it was supposed to.” (Worster12) but neglects the fact that at the time of the Dust Bowl many of the farmers weren’t fully educated in preventing most of the natural disasters that occurred. The farmers could not have protected against all the drought and wind erosion without knowing what would happen in turn of the droughts. When the droughts came, the wheat production slowed drastically as well. The Kerens Tribune says “The winter has been a dry one in all the old Dust Bowl states. Wheat made little growth in some areas”. (The Kerens Tribune) A lot of the farmer’s ethos were shaped because of unpredictable natural disasters that were soon to take its toll on the Texas panhandle and parts of Oklahoma.
One of the key factors of the Dust Bowl was the drought hitting the Great Plains in the 1930’s. The drought caused a lot of unfavorable conditions for farmers in the southwest. In Worster’s book he says “Few of us want to live in the region now. There is too muc...


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...he Western industrialized world and this caused years of over-cultivation of wheat, because “during the laissez-faire, expansionist 1920’s the plains were extensively and put to wheat - turned into highly mechanized factory farms that produced highly unprecedented harvests” (Worster 12). ¬The farmer’s actions were prompted by the economic decline America was facing. With the economy in a recession, farmers were looking for a way to make a living and in 1930 wheat crop were becoming very popular. In 1931 the wheat crop was considered a bumper crop with over twelve million bushels of wheat. Wheat was emerging all over the plains. The wheat supply forced the price down from sixty-eight cents/bushel in July 1930 to twenty-five cents/bushel in July 1931. Many farmers went broke and others abandoned their fields, but most decided to stay despite the unfavorable conditions.

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