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New ideas help us skirt another ‘Dust Bowl’

By Kirsten Peters

It’s difficult to know how to compare enormous disasters with one another.

What has been unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico is often called the “greatest environmental disaster” we’ve faced as a nation.  

My mind turned to an earlier environmental disaster we endured for years in the 1930s. That was the Dust Bowl when a combination of drought and our farming practices in the Great Plains launched the top-most layer of the Earth into the sky again and again.

I was thinking of both the Gulf of Mexico and the “Dirty Thirties” when I got up around dawn to drive 60 miles and meet with a group of wheat farmers and agricultural extension educators. We gathered — thank goodness — at a small town café that opens early. Black coffee (known to some of us as the elixir of life) was fresh and hot and flowing freely.  


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