FoodReference.com Logo

 

FoodReference.com (since 1999)
Food Articles, News & Features Section

 

 

Chef working

  You are here > 

HomeFood ArticlesAgriculture, Farms & Ranches >  U.S. Drought: The New Dust Bowl

 

Culinary Schools & Cooking Classes
From Amateur & Basic Cooking Classes to Professional Chef Training & Degrees -  Associates, Bachelors & Masters.  More than 1,000 schools & classes listed for all 50 States, Online and Worldwide

 

FREE Food & Beverage Publications
An extensive selection of free magazines and other publications for qualified Food, Beverage & Hospitality professionals

 

THE NEW DUST BOWL

 

Dear EarthTalk: Could it really be true that we are in the midst of the worst drought in the United States since the 1930s?
Deborah Lynn, Needham, MA

Indeed we are embroiled in what many consider the worst drought in the U.S. since the “Dust Bowl” days of the 1930s that rendered some 50 million acres of farmland barely usable. Back then, drought conditions combined with poor soil management practices to force some 2.5 million Americans away from the Great Plains, only wreaking further havoc on an already devastated Great Depression economy. The lack of native prairie grasses or cover crops to keep the soil in place meant large swaths of formerly productive agricultural land turned to dust and blew away in so-called “black rollers.” While we have learned a lot about maintaining soil quality since, drought conditions today are nevertheless taking a heavy toll on agricultural productivity, fresh water supplies and the economy—especially as the effects of global warming start to kick in more seriously.

A 1935 Dust Storm
A dust storm approaches Stratford, Texas in 1935.
Credit: NOAA George E. Marsh Album

 

The current drought started in 2012, the hottest year on record in the U.S. with several weeks in a row of 100-plus degree days in various regions. The result was drought conditions for two-thirds of the country. Economists estimate that the dry spell cost Americans some $50 billion in agricultural losses—staple crops including soy, corn and wheat have all been devastated—as well as forest fire destruction and other financial casualties. In fact, this ongoing drought has caused more economic damage all told than Hurricane Sandy. While winter precipitation eased the conditions somewhat, federal researchers believe that more than half the country is still gripped by drought with no foreseeable end in sight and another hot dry summer just around the corner. To wit, California experienced its driest January and February on record, and average winter temperatures across the continental U.S. were 1.9 degrees Fahrenheit above the average for last century.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts that drought conditions are likely to remain in the central and western sections of the U.S. while expanding in California, the Southwest, the southern Rockies and Texas. The Florida panhandle is also expected to see drought conditions moving into summer. Along with crop losses, the expanding drought promises to bring more wildfires to the west as well as to parts of Minnesota and even Iowa.

While it may not feel like we are living in a dust bowl, the drought does affect all of us, primarily in the pocket book. Reduced crop harvests means higher prices for food items of all kind. Likewise, the cost of piping drinking water to our homes’ faucets is on the rise with freshwater reserves becoming a hotter and hotter commodity. And our tax dollars pay for emergency response missions in the case of wildfires and other warming-related weather disasters.

And just as drought conditions affect each and every one of us, we each have the power to help fix the situation by reducing our own carbon footprints. Only through individual and collective efforts to drive and fly less and switch over to renewable non-polluting fuels can we stem the tide of global warming that is either causing or exacerbating what is beginning to feel like a drought with no end.

CONTACT: NOAA, www.noaa.gov

May 2013
EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com   Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe  Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial

 

 

RELATED ARTICLES

  Tomato Breeding for Taste   |   Reducing Water Use in the U.S.   |   U.S. Drought: The New Dust Bowl   |   Healthier Food & Agriculture Systems   |   Livestock & Predator Control   |   Chicago's 1st Licensed Indoor Farm   |   2012 Farm Bill Draft   |   Agriculture and the Environment   |   Ancient Peruvian Teeth   |   Bison: Food, Symbol & Ecology   |   Commercial Freezing Methods   |   Dates (Sci4Kids)   |   Drought, Heat & Grain Prices 2012   |   Earthworms & Heavy Metals   |   Disappearing Honeybees   |   Honeybee Energy Smoothies   |   Rising Number of Farm Animals   |   Sugar Beets and Plastics   |   Technology & American Agriculture   |   Tomatoes: Why Tomatoes Are Big   |   Vertical Farming   |   White House Farmers Market   |   Investments in Women Farmers   |   Women in Agriculture   |   Young Farmers Wanted  

Go to Top of page

  Home   |   About & Contact Us   |   Chef James Bio   |   Website Bibliography   |   Recipe Contests   |   Food Links  

Please feel free to link to any pages of FoodReference.com from your website.  For permission to use any of this content please E-mail: james@foodreference.com  All contents are copyright © 1990 - 2016 James T. Ehler and www.FoodReference.com unless otherwise noted.  All rights reserved.  You may copy and use portions of this website for non-commercial, personal use only.  Any other use of these materials without prior written authorization is not very nice and violates the copyright.  Please take the time to request permission.