I'm as big a football fan as most folks, but last night, I was riveted to my television watching the first part of Ken Burns’ documentary on the Dust Bowl. It’s encouraging to see this important period in our nation’s history being reexamined for a broad audience.
The Dust Bowl and the Great Depression drove ecological and human tragedy on a broad scale. Millions of Americans were left destitute by the destruction of the land and the concurrent economic collapse. Our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents faced what must have seemed to them like the end of the world, including dust storms lasting weeks on end, stripping topsoil and destroying the foundations of both natural and human "ecosystems."
Dust buried farms and equipment, killed livestock, and caused human death and misery during the height of the Dust Bowl years. Credit: NOAA
But while re-creating a bleak vision of the past, the series also offers hope for the future.