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Tue Nov 20, 2012, 11:59 AM

Thom Hartmann: Will We Survive the Future Economic Dust Bowl?



Janet Larsen, Director of Research-Earth Policy Institute, joins Thom Hartmann. This past weekend Thom saw the PBS's new documentary on the Dustbowl of the 1930s - Ken Burns brilliant look at one of the worst man-made ecological disasters in modern times. During the Republican “no regulations” bubble of the 1920s, commodity prices - particularly wheat - were bid up on to the point where thousands of farmers flocked to the Midwest and used mechanized plows to break open tens of millions of acres of virgin prairie land and convert it to fields for growing wheat. The buffalo grass that covered the plains - and the buffalo that both grazed on it and fertilized it - helped hold moisture in the earth and produce a viable layer of topsoil. But when the farmers turned this over and exposed it to the sun, combined with a decade-long period of episodic drought, it turned to dust that was picked up by the wind and destroyed farms and towns, destroying fields and killing livestock and humans alike.

The World Bank has now warned that the temperature increase will be felt the most along the equator in the Mediterranean, North Africa, the Middle East, and parts of the United States. This temperature increase will lead to scarcity in water and food resources and disruptions in biodiversity - which could force mass migrations of people out of affected areas. Rising temperatures will also lead to rising sea levels which threaten cities located in India, Mexico, and Vietnam - as well as several African nations. Several small islands around the planet will likely be unable to sustain their populations by 2100 as a result of this rapidly warming planet. These threats, caused by our relentless pushing of billions of tons of carbon into our atmosphere every hour, may well be the subject of a future Ken Burns-type documentary - how humans destroyed the planet and themselves in the 20th and 21st centuries. That assumes, though, that the future Burns-style piece will have the same happy ending that Burns’ piece on the Dust Bowl did. If not, there won’t be a special - there may not even be TV or the civilization that supports it

The Big Picture with Thom Hartmann on RT TV & FSTV "live" 9pm and 11pm check www.thomhartmann.com/tv for local listings

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Reply Thom Hartmann: Will We Survive the Future Economic Dust Bowl? (Original post)
thomhartmann Nov 2012 OP
We People Nov 2012 #1
fasttense Nov 2012 #2

Response to thomhartmann (Original post)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 12:04 PM

1. K & R

I REALLY appreciate Thom Hartmann's thinking, and that he consistently makes us think.

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Response to thomhartmann (Original post)

Tue Nov 20, 2012, 01:33 PM

2. The Dust Bowl was NOT caused by a bunch of dumb farmers who didn't know plowing would

turn the earth to dust.

The Dust Bowl was caused by investing corporations and banks.

Near the middle of the 1920s there was a farmland bubble. Farmland was going up in price overnight because the car made suburbs practical. Suburbs sprang up where farms used to be and everybody wanted to get in on it.

Speculators bought up small farms to subdivided if they were near the city or to plow up with new industrial sized plows if they were further away. As the bubble burst, the small farmer who had taken loans for seed and equipment had to give up his farm to pay his debts. Speculators and banks picked up these small farmers for pennies on the dollar and accumulated large tracts of land. Then they brought in mechanized plows. Huge machines that ate up the earth like hungry pac-men. John Steinbeck has a very apt description of bankers taking the land and bringing in huge combines to plow under the sod in his book the "Grapes of Wrath". He also describes how the farmer was swindled out of his land by banksters.

It wasn't the small farmer who did it. It was corporations and banks who dug up so much land and let it sit to turn to dust. The small farmer who still owned his land got wiped out too because the dust blew onto his land and wiped out his crops as well as the corporate owned crops. We think it was small farmers because that's what banks and corporations want us to think. But it was only the big investor farms that could afford the big machines to plow up everything all at once. A small farmer could not afford to dig up acres and acres of land to let sit and dry out. They had to replant as quickly as possible to get food and their investment back. They frequently used what we we call cover crops and green manures but Not so the corporate owned farms. They didn't know about green manures and cover crops, so they dug up the land and let it turn to dust.

We think it was the small farmer's fault because we see pictures of small farmers pulling up stakes and running from the huge clouds of dust. But we don't see the bankers and speculators running away because they didn't live there.

Too many people including Thom here, blames farmers for the Dust Bowl and most people think small farmers. But it was the investors, speculators and banks that didn't know what they were doing and caused the biggest ecological disaster in American history.

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