A history of drought refugees in America.
San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) – It was 83 years ago this week, when 23 car and truck-loads of migrant families were reported to have crossed the California-Arizona border in a single day. They were among tens of thousands of poverty-stricken families who found themselves without water in 1936, as drought and erosion in the Southern Plains swept through about 100 million acres of U.S. farmland. From Texas to Nebraska, the high winds and choking dust of America’s infamous Dust Bowl swept the region, killing people, livestock, and local economies. Famed American photographer Dorothea Lange, working with the U.S. Farm Security Administration, documented these drought refugees who, like thousands of others, were camping by the roadside on the way to California’s cotton fields, desperate to find work, shelter, food and water.(1)
What caused the conditions that led to America’s Dust Bowl disaster? The synthesis of massive expansion of the Western U.S, intensive crop cultivation to satisfy rising demand for wheat during World War I, and a basic misunderstanding of ecology conspired to rid the prairies of their native grassland. With the onset of drought, thirsty crops withered away, exposing naked, over-plowed farmland. Eroding soil led to massive dust storms and economic devastation.(2)
Could such devastating drought conditions occur again in America’s farmlands? In California, the four-year period between 2011 and 2015 was the driest since record keeping began in 1895, and high temperatures added to the impact, with 2014 and 2015 being the two hottest years in the state’s recorded history.(3)
Of the 70 percent of the earth that is water, less than 3 percent is freshwater, in the form of glaciers, snow, groundwater, lakes and rivers.(4) And while the amount of […]