Black Storm: How a ‘Decade of Natural Disasters’ Has Suffered for Americans |Tracking and Lectures

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Speaker: Xie Chenghui

Planning: Xie Chenghui

Editor in charge: Circus Director

The full text is about 3400 words and read for about 9 minutes

In 2014, the sci-fi movie “Interstellar” made by the great director Nolan, I believe many friends have watched it. The earth in the movie is full of sandstorms, which is no longer suitable for human survival. There is an interview at the beginning of the movie, which is a few old people recalling the experience of living on the dusty earth. What is the sky full of yellow sand, the plate is buckled, or it will be sand Buried, every day is an endless sandstorm.

◇ “Interstellar”, a movie released 9 years ago, is still worth collecting and watching

This interview is very real. When I watched it at the beginning, I thought Nolan found a group of old actors and performed it. In fact, these interviews are all real. These old people did experience this period of yellow sand when they were young. This can be traced back to the United States in the 1930s, when a black storm occurred.

Today, let’s talk about the “Black Storm” event.

The black storm event was a series of natural disasters caused by sandstorms that broke out in the central United States in the 1930s. 400,000 square kilometers of land were affected by this event. This area is a little larger than Japan. More than 3.5 million people were forced to Leave your hometown. The period when the black storm broke out coincided with the economic crisis in the United States. The two things interacted with each other and aggravated the damage.

Speaking of it, the root of this disaster originated in the middle of the 19th century, when Americans discovered a large amount of oil under the land at that time. Through the oil industry, the total economic volume of the United States surpassed that of Britain in 1900 and became the world’s largest.

◇ Rapid economic development attracts immigrants from all over the world. The picture shows new immigrants coming to the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries

At that time, the states with the most developed oil industry were those in the middle of the United States, such as Oklahoma, Ohio, and Texas. In just a few decades, millions of people migrated to this land to work in the oil industry. More people come, which will naturally drive the development of the local economy. Agriculture, chemical industry, manufacturing, and service industries are all improving rapidly. But these things also have a great impact on the local area.

One of the biggest problems is land desertification. As I said before, the oil industry in these states is very developed. After the oil was dug out, cavities were formed underground. Because oil is often buried deeper than groundwater, some groundwater pours into these cavities, and the groundwater table begins to drop. Not only that, because of the development of agriculture, people need a lot of water resources to irrigate the land. However, the climate in the central part of the United States is relatively dry, and groundwater has become the main source of irrigation, which has aggravated the decline in groundwater levels. Several factors collided together, causing the water content of this land to be seriously insufficient.

◇ The picture shows Himarron County, Oklahoma. After a sandstorm, farmers raise fence posts to avoid being buried under the sand.

The rapid development of the oil industry has led to a series of technological developments in the United States, which are also reflected in agriculture. The emergence of automatic harvesters allows farmers to manage larger lands with little effort. As a result, the no-man’s land, which was originally a grassland, was bought by farmers to open up wasteland, reclaim land, and grow crops. After studying biology in junior high school, I know that although grassland has no economic benefits, it is still very important in protecting water and soil erosion. Nowadays, the grassland is gone, the groundwater is reduced, and the land is deserted, which can easily cause sand and dust weather.

Just at this time, the economic crisis broke out in the United States. Farmers planted food on the land they bought with loans, and planned to make a fortune, but it was all lost in their hands. As a result, many farmers went bankrupt, and they had to leave their homes and come to cities to find living space. As soon as they left, the land that was originally reclaimed was completely deserted. The farmland next to the grassland would have aggravated soil erosion, but fortunately, there are crops on the land, which can be carried. Now there is no one to cultivate the land, and the land will soon be deserted. At this time, as long as there is a little wind, it will be troublesome. Besides, the wind in the central part of the United States is much and strong.

◇ The weather in 1934 contributed to the sandstorm

This process was quite fast. The economic crisis broke out in 1929, and finally got better in 1933, but people didn’t know that even greater darkness was coming.

In 1934, the United States encountered a severe drought that had not happened in a century. Many states set a record of no continuous rain, and sandstorms were inevitable. According to statistics, more than 75% of North America, not just the United States, has been affected by this sandstorm. Not to mention the central part of the United States. In the center of the disaster, the sun was completely blocked by the sky full of yellow sand. The visibility was less than 1 meter. By the way, sandstorm: sandstorm. The term was coined at that time. Dust storms have swept across the entire United States, and even the New England region on the eastern coast of the United States has been affected by sandstorms.

At that time, a reporter said in the report: Red snow fell all over New England. It is dust. It was even worse near the center of the disaster, such as Chicago, which was covered by 5,400 tons of dust, equivalent to more than 50 elephants flying over the city. The economic impact of this dust is also very large. The United States loses more than 25 million US dollars every day, which is equivalent to about 500 million US dollars today.

◇ The picture shows near Stretford, Texas, on April 18, 1935, a sandstorm approached a village.

◇ The scene when the black sandstorm comes

You know, this time in 1934 was just the beginning, the second year, April 14, 1935, Sunday. The dust storm that occurred on this day was the worst in American history. From southern Canada to the southernmost state of Texas, 20 dust storms across the United States broke out on the same day.

You can think about it, in 1934, one sandstorm was so serious, and 20 times in the same day, it must be a spectacular scene. The sun didn’t work that day. Completely covered by sand and dust, visibility dropped to zero at one point. What kind of concept, everyone has become blind, shaking their hands in front of their eyes and can’t see. This day is known as “Black Sunday” in American history.

Even if you hide at home and close the doors and windows, sand and dust can blow in through the gaps. At this time, if you don’t buckle the bowl on the dining table and put it away, the bowl will be buried in the sand after a while. Speaking of this, I have to sigh with emotion. The great director Nolan mentioned at the beginning is really a detail-oriented person. For example, people must close the windows when they go out. If they are full of yellow sand in the house, they will not be able to sleep. Or the pots and pans have to be buckled, or they will be covered with sand. If he hadn’t studied the real cases back then, it wouldn’t have been so obvious in the movie.

◇ The picture shows on March 25, 1935, two girls in Springfield, Colorado covered their mouths and noses and pressed the hand pump to get water at the door

◇People who are struggling in the wind and sand

◇A house about to be swallowed by sand dunes

◇The states of Montana, Lesas, Texas, Oklahoma and Corrado in the western United States used to be a lush green field. Due to over-exploitation, forests and grasslands have been severely damaged, and the continuous drought has intensified the phenomenon of land desertification.

In the next few years, the sand and dust came several times almost every year. Sandstorms like those in 1934 and 1935 broke out three times throughout the 1930s. Americans at that time lived under the shadow of sandstorms, and therefore, these 10 years are known as the “dirty decade” in American history.

Faced with this problem, the US government really has no good way to do it. Just like a few years ago, some people ridiculed the smog in Beijing on the Internet, saying that the only way to control the smog is the wind. The U.S. government can only rely on the wind to control sandstorms, but they rely on the wind to stop them. When the wind did not stop, the U.S. government could only guarantee people’s basic survival needs by distributing relief food. Americans used to look down on canned food, thinking that it was eaten by people who were dying of starvation, but now they can’t care about it. The government even paid for the pigs, cattle and sheep from the farms, slaughtered them and made them into cans, which were distributed free of charge to the affected people.

◇ Shelter belts still preserved

When the wind calmed down, Roosevelt Jr., then President of the United States, ordered the planting of protective forests, from the US-Canada border to Texas, running through the north and south of the United States. More than 200 million trees make up this giant protective belt. At the same time, it called for improved farming methods. Instead of planting wheat, which is too old to live this year, corn with a high survival rate should be planted instead. By the way, nowadays when we watch American sports games, the auditorium often throws popcorn wildly. It’s not that they were wasting food, it’s because there is too much corn, which is the impact of the black storm incident that year.

Again, in the face of the wrath of God, it is useless for human beings to do anything. How did the black storm end? In 1939, the 10-year drought in the United States ended and normal rainfall returned. This is the end of a decade of dust storms that have been raging across the United States.

But the dust storms of the decade had a long-lasting impact on the United States. Now there is a word Okies in American slang, which originally meant people from Oklahoma, but because of those ten years, a large number of people in this state fled to other places to work. Now the meaning of the word is: a wage earner hiding from debts.

◇ American families forced to relocate due to sandstorms

In 2020, the United States conducted a census and found that about one-eighth of the people in California are descendants of these okies. Although the Americans tried to solve the problem of sandstorms by planting protective forests, they all solved the symptoms but not the root cause. Including the mention of the United States now, you know that the east and west coasts are very developed, and when you mention the central part of the United States, it is often full of yellow sand, which is actually related to the destruction of the year. Some people always say that man can conquer nature, as if he has mastered the power of nature, but when nature gets angry, those who say “man can conquer nature” can’t even cry.