Climate Change is Costly
We seem to believe the world climate is changing, creating never seen before disasters on an unprecedented level. How quickly we forget our history.
May 11, 1934, winds sweep down the Great Plains region of the United states blowing millions of tons of precious topsoil as far as New York, Boston, and the Atlantic seaboard.
The great plains had long been rich and fertile grasslands. The region was settled in the mid-1800s. In 1917, the US entered the First World War and the demands for wheat skyrocketed. With the invention of the steam tractor, crop production tripled almost overnight.
The natural prairie grasses were plowed under to make way for wheat, rye, barley, flax, and other precious commodities.
Over the centuries, Mother Nature had grown those prairie grasses to hold in the moisture and anchor the soil as protection against drought conditions.
After the war came the boom years. The gasoline tractor arrived on the farm and land owners were ripping up the grasses and cultivating the soil with complete abandonment. For several years farmers enjoyed bumper crops, things were good on the prairies, bank accounts were fat, until the drought of the Dirty Thirties set in.
At that time, the strong western winds arrived on the Great Plains and there was nothing to hold onto the soil.
Once people realized the seriousness of the situation they began to keep records of the storms. There were 14 major dust storms in 1932, and 28 in 1933. By 1934, the frequency of the storms began to decrease, but the intensity and severity increased.
In just two days in May 1934, it was reported 350 million tons of rich top soil blew all the way from the northern Great Plains to the eastern seaboard. New Yorkers were covering their mouths with handkerchiefs while walking in the streets. People in Boston were wiping dirt and silt from their eyes. Ships some 300 miles offshore saw dust collect on their decks.
The dust storms forced thousands of families from Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, and New Mexico to abandon their homes and make the arduous trek to California.
This was the height of the Great Depression of the Dirty Thirties and it devastated the entire nation until the end of the drought in 1939.
To this days, the Great Plains has never recovered. We have spent billions of dollars on fertilizers and other artificial means to make the soil productive. How many more trillions of dollars richer would America be today if only some modest environmental protection had been taken back then?
Today, we talk of climate change as if it is a new phenomenon. Climate change is constant and always has been. One hundred years to us is more than a lifetime, it is a generation, but to Mother Nature one hundred years is nothing but a spec of sand from the Sahara desert.
Climate change is a constant, and unless we wish to pay the price and incur the the devastation of our forefathers, we need to tread very carefully with how we manage our lives on this planet.
When it comes to the environment, short-term gain will always result in long-term pain.
The recent presidential cuts to the protection of the Great Lakes, and other unilateral slashes to environmental programs, will become recognized as a huge mistake and will cost our children tenfold.
It looks like once again, we are going to be forced to learn the hard way,
Climate Change is Costly.
In your journalforlife, take a few minutes to reflect upon the recent tragedies caused by Mother Nature: floods, mudslides, tornadoes, and ask yourself, “Do you think we could have made those disasters less devastating if we had built or managed our natural resources just a little differently?”
We welcome you to post your journal entry to this Journal Challenge, or discuss this challenge, in our forum, Common Ground.
“Sooner or later, we will have to recognize that the Earth has rights, too, to live without pollution. What mankind must know is that human beings cannot live without Mother Earth, but the planet can live without humans.” –Evo Morales
“Climate change is happening, humans are causing it, and I think this is perhaps the most serious environmental issue facing us.” –Bill Nye
“The most important thing about global warming is this. Whether humans are responsible for the bulk of climate change is going to be left to the scientists, but it’s all of our responsibility to leave this planet in better shape for the future generations than we found it.” –Mike Huckabee
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