The memorable quote used for the title of this post came from a survivor of the Dust Bowl. Also referred to as the Dirty Thirties, this decade meant great economic and social hardship for many residents of the United States, but in particular those residing in the southern Great Plains.
The book entitled The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan provides an excellent and harrowing description of what the residents of the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles, southwest Kansas, southeast Colorado, and northeast New Mexico suffered through during the 1930s. The book is an extraordinary read, though at times it can be quite depressing.
Mr. Egan does a marvelous job of personalizing the struggle to survive. the book. It, combined with Ken Burns’ recent documentary The Dust Bowl provide a superb history lesson on this environmental catastrophe that was entirely caused by the selfish actions of humans.
The innumerable and monstrous dist storms (or dusters) that plagued the Great Plains during this era are hard for one to imagine. Their sheer intensity was devastating to communities, homesteads, farms, humans, and animals. Literally choking on and being buried by dust on a daily basis sounds like a tortuous fate worse than death. Sadly, all too many Americans lost their lives to these dust storms.
One cannot help but find parallels between the dire warnings that were sounded prior to the onset of the Dust Bowl and those being expressed today about global warming and climate change. This week’s World Bank announcement that global temperatures will rise by seven degrees fahrenheit by no later than the end of this century and the warnings expressed in Mark Hertsgaard’s excellent book shown below are just two examples. Unfortunately, too many people and politicians appear to be stuck in a state of denial and cannot foresee the disastrous repercussions headed our way if actions and attitudes do not change very soon.
If you get a chance, please read The Worst Hard Time. It was a National Book Award winner in 2006 and is a very worthwhile and important read.