• Damir Perge

Climate Gone Wild: Is There Another Dust Bowl Coming?

With droughts causing a primary concern across the Southwest, and tropical storms creating chaos in the Southeastern United States, I was reviewing the weather patterns and how they relate to Watergeddon.


An article from WSJ caught my attention: “U.S. Sets a Summer-Heat Record This Year,” Average temperature of 74 degrees Fahrenheit was 0.01 degree above previous record in 1936.


According to Talal Ansari, the U.S. had its hottest month on record, narrowly beating highs set during the Dust Bowl in 1936:

  • According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the average temperature for the Lower 48 states from June to August was 74 degrees Fahrenheit—or 2.6 degrees above average, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

  • That average is just 0.01-degree Fahrenheit above the previous record, set in the summer of 1936.

  • NOAA said a record 18.4% of the contiguous U.S. experienced its warmest temperatures.

  • Five states—California, Nevada, Utah, Oregon, and Idaho—reported their hottest summers, and 16 had their top-five warmest summers on record, according to the federal agency’s U.S. Climate Report for August 2021.

  • No state had a below-average temperature for the summer.

If you’re not familiar with the Dust Bowl, the History Channel gives a good summary of the situation:https://www.history.com/topics/great-depression/dust bowl#&gid=ci0230e63270252549&pid=boy-in-dust-bowl

The Dust Bowl was the name given to the drought-stricken Southern Plains region of the United States, which suffered severe dust storms during a dry period in the 1930s. As high winds and choking dust swept the region from Texas to Nebraska, people and livestock were killed, and crops failed across the entire region. The Dust Bowl intensified the crushing economic impacts of the Great Depression and drove many farming families on a desperate migration in search of work and better living conditions. The Dust Bowl was caused by several economic and agricultural factors, including federal land policies, changes in regional weather, farm economics, and other cultural factors.
The Dust Bowl, also known as “the Dirty Thirties,” started in 1930 and lasted for about a decade, but its long-term economic impacts on the region lingered much longer. Severe drought hit the Midwest and Southern Great Plains in 1930. Massive dust storms began in 1931. A series of drought years followed, further exacerbating the environmental disaster. By 1934, an estimated 35 million acres of formerly cultivated land had been rendered useless for farming, while another 125 million acres—an area roughly three-quarters the size of Texas—was rapidly losing its topsoil.

(1) https://www.history.com/topics/great-depression/dust-bowl

Photo: More than 500,000 families were left homeless by the Dust Bowl.


There is an old saying, “History repeats itself.” Well, sometimes.


What’s happening today could be seen as cyclical patterns of Mother Nature. El Nino and La Nina are examples of that. However, the Southwest drought could be more than cyclical. 40+ Watergeddon variables indicate the current drought is not a cyclical mathematical function. Let's look at the global population growth from the 1930s to 2021, as a straightforward variable.


If you’re not familiar with the Dust Bowl, the History Channel gives a good summary of the situation:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_growth


My mother is 89 years old. She was born in 1932. When she was born, the population was 2 billion people. Today, it is almost 8 billion. That’s a 4X growth. The skeptics will say that the planet is big enough to support more than 10 billion people. As I have traveled all over the world, I can see the support for this argument. It’s a giant planet for sure. The problem is that every species, including humans, has an ecological footprint that they require to survive. And when you look at it from the ecological footprint perspective, the math is not in our favor.


Footprint Definition:

The Ecological Footprint is a simple metric. It is also uniquely comprehensive. Not only does it measure humanity’s demand on our planet’s ecosystems, but it is also key to understanding the inter-related pressures of climate change on the natural ecosystems on which humanity depends.

https://www.footprintnetwork.org/2017/11/09/ecological-footprint-climate-change/


WWF definition:

The simplest way to define ecological footprint would be to call it the impact of human activities measured in terms of the area of biologically productive land and water required to produce the goods consumed and to assimilate the wastes generated. More simply, it is the amount of the environment necessary to produce the goods and services necessary to support a particular lifestyle.

https://wwf.panda.org/discover/knowledge_hub/teacher_resources/webfieldtrips/ecological_balance/eco_footprint/


So, what is the realistic ecological footprint per person?


The world average ecological footprint in 2014 was 2.8 global hectares per person. According to Rees, "The average world citizen has an eco-footprint of about 2.7 global average hectares while there is only 2.1 global hectare of bioproductive land and water per capita on earth.

Global Footprint Network estimates that, as of 2014, humanity has been using natural 1.7 times as fast as Earth can renew it, which they describe as meaning humanity's ecological footprint corresponds to 1.7 planet Earths.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecological_footprint


But what about all the other species? Do you see the problem? Do you see how the current Southwest drought could become another version of a Dust Bowl? Maybe worse?


The numbers are difficult to swallow. The Malthusian prophecy is the current reality. As humans look to travel to planets like Mars, my question is why we can’t focus on spending money and brainpower on making this planet more habitable.


I’d rather live on Planet Earth than Mars any day. Call me crazy.