National Geographic News
A photo of a farmer walking through a dust storm

A farmer walks in a dust storm on drought-stricken lands near Felt, Oklahoma, on August 1, 2013.

PHOTOGRAPH BY ED KASHI, VII

Laura Parker

National Geographic

Published May 16, 2014

In Boise City, Oklahoma, over the catfish special at the Rockin' A Café, the old-timers in this tiny prairie town grouse about billowing dust clouds so thick they forced traffic off the highways and laid down a suffocating layer of topsoil over fields once green with young wheat.

They talk not of the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, but of the duster that rolled through here on April 27, clocked at 62.3 miles per hour.

It was the tenth time this year that Boise City, at the western end of the Oklahoma panhandle, has endured a dust storm with gusts more than 50 miles per hour, part of a breezier weather trend in a region already known for high winds.

In Focus

"When people ask me if we'll have a Dust Bowl again, I tell them we're having one now," says Millard Fowler, age 101, who lunches most days at the Rockin' A with his 72-year-old son, Gary. Back in 1935, Fowler was a newly married farmer when a blizzard of dirt, known as Black Sunday, swept the High Plains and turned day to night. Some 300,000 tons of dirt blew east on April 14, falling on Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C., and, according to writer Timothy Egan in his book The Worst Hard Time, onto ships at sea in the Atlantic.

"It is just as dry now as it was then, maybe even drier," Fowler says. "There are going to be a lot of people out here going broke."

The climatologists who monitor the prairie states say he is right. Four years into a mean, hot drought that shows no sign of relenting, a new Dust Bowl is indeed engulfing the same region that was the geographic heart of the original. The undulating frontier where Kansas, Colorado, and the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma converge is as dry as toast. The National Weather Service, measuring rain over 42 months, reports that parts of all five states have had less rain than what fell during a similar period in the 1930s.

A photo of a ranch in Oklahoma in a dust storm.
A gigantic dust cloud looms over a ranch in Boise City, Oklahoma, in this April 1935 file photo.
PHOTOGRAPH BY AP

"If you have a long enough period without rain, there will be dust storms and they can be every bit as bad as they were in the Thirties," says Mary Knapp, the Kansas State assistant climatologist.

Cattle are being sold to market because there is not enough grass on rangeland for large herds to graze. Colorado's southeast Baca County is almost devoid of cattle—a change that Nolan Doesken, Colorado's state climatologist, calls "profound and dramatic."

Elsewhere, drifts of sand pile up along fence lines packed with tumbleweeds, and tens of thousands of acres of dry-land wheat have died beneath blankets of silt as fine as sifted flour. In the vocabulary of Plains weather, this is known as a "blowout." Blowouts often start as brown strips along the outer edges of fields, and then spread with each successive blowing wind like a cancer.

"Once your neighbor's fields starts to blow, it puts your own fields at risk," says Gary McManus, Oklahoma's state climatologist, who toured the blown-out wheat fields outside Boise City last week.

A photo of an unplanted cotton field covered that has eroded.
High winds and a record-breaking heat wave led to damaging erosion in this unplanted cotton field.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ROBB KENDRICK, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CREATIVE

Hotter and Drier

McManus, 47, grew up in the panhandle town of Buffalo, where his grandparents gave up farming during the drought of the 1950s and moved to town. He has a special affinity for the panhandle, which he says is often ignored by state officials and is in worse shape as a result of the present drought than any other part of Oklahoma. Part of his job involves traveling Oklahoma's back roads to speak to farm groups. In the past three years, as the drought settled in, he has given 100 talks to farmers, 40 of them about the drought.

"They want to know what's going to happen," he says. "Are we going to get moisture for my wheat? My answer, generally, has been probably not. Unfortunately, I'm right more often than I'm wrong."

The farmers also ask for a long-term forecast, which takes McManus into the politically perilous realm of climate change, a touchy subject in a state where Republican Senator Jim Inhofe is known as one of the leading congressional voices denying global warming and where, as one man put it, what farmers believe depends on "whether they listen to FOX or CNN."

"It's not a subject I like to speak about. It's nerve-wracking," McManus says. "I am often met with skepticism, and I tell them I am just presenting the science."

According to the National Climate Assessment, the government's interagency report detailing the impact of climate change, the science shows that the region is trending toward hotter and drier. The longer the current drought lasts, the harder it will be to recover. A quarter of Oklahoma, including the panhandle, and neighboring counties in Kansas and Texas are rated as being in "exceptional drought," the driest category on the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor—a status so dry that farmers express relief whenever their standing moves incrementally up a notch to "extreme drought."

As of the end of March, the U.S. Department of Agriculture ranked 42 percent of Oklahoma's winter wheat crop as "poor" to "very poor," and categorized almost three-quarters of the state's topsoil as "short" of moisture and 80 percent of the subsoil as "very short" of moisture.

A photo of a farmer examining his damaged crop field in 1938.
A man stoops over a row of scraggly corn in an open field in June 1938 in Colorado. The corn in the field behind him, protected by trees, is much healthier.
PHOTOGRAPH BY AP

The Best Bad Option

Nathan Crabtree, vice president of First State Bank on Main Street, says high commodity prices, together with the federal crop insurance program, which pays 70 percent on averages of annual yield, has saved more wheat farmers from going under than he can count. "If we had $4-a-bushel wheat, instead of $8-a-bushel wheat, we'd be in serious trouble," he says. "Crop adjusters are out here every day, looking at fields. Most of them are going to be zeroed out."

There is no drought insurance for cattlemen. Herds with strong bloodlines built up over generations are being liquidated. "It's like they're selling their own kids," he says.

Hal Clark, 82, a rancher, is trying to kill non-native, water-gorging weeds on his grazing land, so there will be more for the grass to absorb. Kenneth Rose, 68, a dry-land wheat farmer and cattleman, has sold off half his herd and is trying to salvage his wheat crop. He has two options, both bad.

The best bad option, he says, seems to be plowing deep furrows, as was done in the 1930s. This churns up big clods, which weighs down the soil and creates ridgelines to break up the wind. He calls it a "desperate measure," because if it doesn't rain this year, the field will be drier than ever next year and unsuitable for planting.

The other option is to let his fields lie and blow now.

"What are you gonna do?" he says. "It's discouraging at times, but part of living here. I've got too much invested to quit now."

A photo of people drilling for water in Felt, Oklahoma.
Workers drill for water in Felt, Oklahoma, on July 28, 2013. Because of ongoing drought, overdrilling for water is depleting the Ogallala Aquifer.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ED KASHI, VII

"One Day Closer to Rain"

Boise City is the county seat of Cimarron County, Oklahoma's westernmost county, and a remote area still known as No Man's Land. The moniker refers to the panhandle's status in the mid-1800s as an unclaimed territory that became an enclave for outlaws and thieves. Today, the name refers more to its isolation: Boise (pronounced BOYCE) City is closer to the capitals of Colorado and New Mexico than it is to its own statehouse in Oklahoma City, 326 miles to the east.

In a bit of geographical irony, the town's name derives from the French le bois, meaning "the trees." At its turn-of-the-century founding, land hustlers sold lots to homesteaders on the promise of paved streets lined with elms, ample water, and a railroad stop connecting the lonely outpost to civilization in the East. When the new arrivals discovered the sales pitch was fiction, the hustlers ended up in prison for fraud. But the town endured, as the newcomers eagerly joined what became known as the great plow-up that transformed millions of acres of native grassland into farmland, setting the stage for the worst ecological disaster in the nation's history.

Today, the only elms are those planted as wind breaks, and they are dying by the thousands.

A photo of little girls trying to pump water during a dust storm in 1935.
Girls cover their faces during a swirling dust storm while trying to pump water in Springfield, Colorado, in this March 1935 file photo.
PHOTOGRAPH BY AP

The drought of the Thirties lasted a decade. Despite the great exodus of "Okies" to California, mythologized in John Steinbeck's masterpiece The Grapes of Wrath, most people in the Southern Plains stayed. They were tough and resilient, and still are. They adapted to the harsh, unyielding land they farmed, devising new farm techniques to help the soil recover.

Since 1985, the National Resources Conservation Service, run by the USDA, has been paying farmers with badly eroded land to take it out of production and grow native grasses instead.

"You have to be an optimist to be a farmer," says Iris Imler, programs coordinator of the Cimarron County Conservation District, which partners with the USDA to assist farmers and ranchers. "You know the saying in a drought—we're one day closer to rain."

A photo of a farmer herding cattle in Oklahoma.
A rancher herds his cows on horseback from the pasture to the barn in Felt, Oklahoma, on July 30, 2013.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ED KASHI, VII

A Hard Pull

Still, life on the Plains remains a hard pull. Towns across the prairie continue to lose population. Boise City has declined by 18 percent since the 2000 Census. The population hovers today around 1,216. Kids grow up and go off to the city because, as nearly everyone will tell you, the only jobs in the area are those in agriculture and those are few and getting fewer.

There has been talk, Imler says, of harnessing the panhandle's most reliable resource—the wind, as energy companies in Boise City's neighboring counties in Texas and Kansas have done. But Oklahoma's electrical transmission line ends 60 miles short of Boise City, creating an obstacle that only the state legislature can resolve. Which isn't likely to happen any time soon.

A photo of people wearing masks to protect themselves from the dust storms.
People use a towel as a dust mask for their horse in this file photo taken in eastern Colorado.
PHOTOGRAPH BY AP

Meanwhile, a new agricultural industry has materialized. The water-consumptive hog business moved into the Oklahoma panhandle in the 1990s, drawn in part by Oklahoma's lack of regulations and restrictions on water taken from the Ogallala Aquifer, the vast underground reservoir that underlies the Great Plains and provides 80 percent of its drinking water as well as irrigation for thirsty crops like corn. Texas and Kansas both limit draws on the aquifer. At the time, farmers in Boise City expressed concerns about the impact on water supply, but the Seaboard Food plant revived the dying town of Guymon, in next-door Texas County.

Bart Camilli, who farms 2,400 acres of dry-land wheat, thinks the dropping water table in the Ogallala is a far more significant threat than global warming. "I put no stock in climate change, but I worry every day about the Ogallala," he says. "That will be the biggest factor affecting this county. What happens to the Ogallala makes this drought pale by comparison."

A photo of tumbleweeds covering an abandoned house in Colorado.
Tumbleweeds pile up around an abandoned farm in Haswell, Colorado, on April 1, 2014.
PHOTOGRAPH BY RJ SANGOSTI, THE DENVER POST/GETTY

"Dwindling Communities"

Another glimpse of the future can be seen at Oklahoma Panhandle State University, on the outskirts of Goodwell, an hour's drive east. For most of its history, the school, founded in 1909 as a small, agricultural college, drew students from a 250-mile radius.

The shrinking prairie population has changed all that, forcing administrators to hunt for students farther afield. "It has been very difficult to maintain enrollment because of dwindling communities and competition from other schools," says Larry Peters, a college vice president who worked on his family's farm.

As insurance, OPSU has also added new disciplines, including computer technology, business, and nursing, now the fastest-growing program of study.

A photo of a house and farm buildings whose land has been eroded by dust storms and drought.
This abandoned farm in Haswell, Colorado, is pictured on April 1, 2014.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ALFRED EINSENSTAEDT, TIME AND LIFE PICTURES/GETTY

Curtis Bensch, who heads the agronomy department, says the small family farm is all but a thing of the past. Jobs that await his graduates include positions in corporate farming, the hog industry, and the fertilizer business.

The college also is home to a research station for Oklahoma State University, which develops new drought-tolerant strains of wheat such as one called "Duster" and is experimenting with the development of a subsurface irrigation system to cut down on evaporation.

"Hog operations do have high water demands, but so does irrigating cropland," Bensch says. "I think the consensus is that agricultural enterprises are going to continue to use water as efficiently as they can, but realistically, there will probably come a day when they just don't have the water to do what they used to do."

Brad Duren, a history professor, says many of his students are preparing to become teachers, but are concerned about finding teaching jobs as tiny school districts that dot the Plains disappear.

Most of the students on campus are children of the 1990s, a wetter-than-usual decade. Unnerved by the dust storms, they retreat into the sensibility of youthful inexperience and the belief that technology has a solution for every problem.

"Students all too often regard history as that was then, and because this is 2014, and because we have iPhones, we're smarter than the people who lived in the 1930s," Duren says. "They have this faith in science and technology that everything is going to be okay. But we live in a harsh environment. The problem is, when you run out of water, there are only so many ways to get more."

100 comments
Jeffrey S.
Jeffrey S.

This article is really dealing with the problems the, "Heartland" is facing. I do not think any of the comments pertaining specifically to such are meant to be unsympathetic or disrespectful to any specific group. It's a problem and a BIG problem for the hard working folk out there.

The conversation became more general and "Global warming" seems to have become the focus. Although it is pertinent to what the, "Heartland" is now facing.

So on that subject indulge me one more comment & thought;

We are humans, we make mistakes ,we do not always get it right.

The World as a whole is facing an ever increasing number of crisis's, both man made and natural. It seems we, I speak of humanity, are at the crossroads of making decisions that will decide our fate and what kind of world is left for OUR future generations, if any at all.

Global Warming is just one of the issues, but a significant one because it will impact our ability to address the rest, such as, "feeding the world". We are at a point where we better get at it, if there is any hope to at least mitigate the damage being done.

In the grand scope of time, we been here for what amounts to a blink of an eye. Unbelievable progress has been made in that time frame, with mistakes made along the way. Sometimes we've learned, sometimes not. We need to learn and right now,or what will, "Mankind's" legacy be?

There is no, "benefit" to anybody who states that there is an urgent problem and we need to do something about it, quite the contrary, sacrifice and new thinking, truly once and for all doing away with the same old, same old and working together to fix these things, if not for us for our children and theirs, is the order of the day, or there might not be any tomorrow.

The choice is very difficult, but quite simple;

Do we fight the uphill battle with ours eyes to the Summit, or do we decide its all down hill from here. Look into your Son's and Daughter's eyes.

That's it, I've said my piece for whatever it's worth.


Edward Kirby
Edward Kirby

In the 23rd century BCE, the ancient Egyptians were a prosperous civilization; one of the greatest of its time. The pharaoh, Pepi II had reigned for over half a century. Yet, within a single generation, they were reduced to abject poverty and even cannibalism in some regions. The Nile River itself dried up for a period of a few decades, the central government collapsed and the mighty empire that had built the great pyramids came to an end.

I often wonder how much of that was attributable to a natural climate change event and how much of it was attributable to farming practices similar to the ones the US experienced here in prior to the 1930s.

America was spared that fate thanks to science.

But what will happen when climate change kicks into overdrive at the same time the aquifers dry up? Can science do anything more than tell us the end is coming? The grandchildren of the farmers that live there now may have more in common with the Bedouins that travel the deserts of North Africa and Arabia than they do with the cowboys of our not-too-distant past.

Susie Noonan
Susie Noonan

Plant the hemp. 

Grow fuel, food, and fiber, and fix the soil simultaneously. 

Win~Win.

Jeffrey S.
Jeffrey S.

It amazes me that the most brilliant minds living today, have PROVEN and have come to the conclusion that, "Global warming" will change the world as we know it and we are witnessing the beginnings of that change today, while there still are politicians and business men, who are absolutely ignorant of the science involved, continue to deny that we are facing a crisis that will haunt us, our children, future generations and leave a legacy of Man's arrogance.


It's not rocket science, the ever increasing CO2 in our atmosphere, mostly as a direct result of pollution, traps more and more heat from dissipating. The longer it goes unaddressed, (so far Band-Aids are being used to stop the bleeding of a severed limb), the more accelerated the problem will become, (as we are now witnessing) and if we, as the caretakers of our world,do not decide now that drastic measures and sacrifice are needed, we will pass the point of no return, (if not there already), and the future for our heirs looks mighty bleak indeed.


To those in denial, I suggest buying a sauna, turning the heat up to 120, and try sitting in it for several days, this is the fate we are leaving for our children's children, all for sake of driving our 400 HP car to work, what will they be saying about us?

"Hot under the collar".

Terry Trudgen
Terry Trudgen

get out of the dark ages what about the brown cloud over the south of eur-asia?

Wayne Holden
Wayne Holden

I find it extremely stupid that the legislatures of the affected states can not get it together and fund the construction of a power grid that will transfer wind generated power out of the dust bowl areas (once the wind turbines are installed) to the energy hogs of the East and West coasts where they produce little and consume huge amounts of goods and power.

Get it together people! Your fellow citizens need some relief and it is your job to provide it. 

New Orleans got handed it's just rewards and the government GAVE them billions in free cash. One type of disaster deserves just as much help to recover as any other.

Wayne Holden
Wayne Holden

Global warming? So now the dust bowl of the 30's was caused by a catchy phrase invented in the last 20 year? I guess the droughts of the 50's were just a figment of their imagination. 


Get over it people. The climate changes and weather conditions vary over decades of time, sometimes century's. Puny little man and his machines may have a teeny tiny effect on the global weather but as for our ability to cause droughts and other weather extremes, we just don't have the power.

Terry Trudgen
Terry Trudgen

 Arctic ice is melting and is diluting the deep ocean super cooled saline layer (formed when ice is created on the southern Antarctic waters) which cools the surface ocean layer (not any more) . El Nino has endured for many years because of this unbalance and is a positive feedback to the situation in the central american plains. Not only is this a terrible situation but one that is only going to worsen .

Christopher Zurcher
Christopher Zurcher

It's too bad companies, lobbyists and some of our own legislators aren't fighting as hard for a pipeline to carry water as they are for a pipeline to carry oil, that may very well ruin even more farmland and is certainly not going to help the climate situation any. The pipeline they're fighting for will in fact be carrying oil from the tar sands, which is just dirty oil that will end up will creating more greenhouse gases and dirtying our atmosphere more. We're caught in a terrible sand storm of greed that is drying up our future and the future of our children and generations on down the line.

Elizabeth Watts
Elizabeth Watts

I read several comments and am amazed that everyone seems to rely on human intellect to get them through these tough times.  God's word says that "If my people will humble themselves and pray, then I will heal their land."  My suggestion is to start praying, and I mean pray about everything.  It also amazes me that God had only 10 commandments for us to follow and we can't even master 10.  Our legislators have too many laws on the books to follow and our society is still a mess.  Better believe the word of God. He really does mean what he says.

Diane H.
Diane H.

Someone should've listened to Gore when he tried to warn the people of Global Warming & Climate Change... I hope we can turn this around, but looking bleak!

Case van Jaarsveld
Case van Jaarsveld

Thank you for an informative article regarding the value of WATER! Above and in the ground.

Kyle Kaiser
Kyle Kaiser

I lived in the Oklahoma Panhandle for nearly 5 years while attending school.  The people in this area could not be nicer and more welcoming.  It is truly a shame they're going through this hardship.  


While there isn't a doubt in my mind that climate change is at play here, the more obvious reason for this hardship is that many are farming and ranching on land which was never meant to be used.  These grasslands have always existed in a perilous balance between rain and drought.


Exasperating the situation is that the small farms of yesterday have been replaced by heavy agriculture.  Today, the aquifer is dropping at an alarming rate- some places you must dig 600+ feet just to find water.  Many farmers and ranchers drop the pump well below the existing water line in anticipation of its future drop.


Exploiting our State Legislature's inability to do anything that might be construed as anti-business, Seaboard Farms extracts this invaluable resource for free- no where near its actual costs.  Should Seaboard be forced to pay for its disproportionate use of our most important resource they would have never located their facility in Guymon.  Instead, they'll stay as rent seekers until the last drop is gone and they'll leave the next generation with the problem of truly having no water. 


I'm thankful that our Federal Government, despised by many in the Panhandle, has provided a social safety net to allow the farmers to eek out a living despite having mostly unproductive yields.  In time, the free market will prevail as many of the next generation (myself included) move away for more stable existence and many of these farms are returned back to grasslands. 

Laura Drye
Laura Drye

Everyone in the midwest should read this articale... we are already in another dust bowl.

Kaitlyn Nelson
Kaitlyn Nelson

 It must be easy to condemn others when you have never even set foot in this area. As a Texas Panhandle resident and someone who works in agriculture, I'd like to address some "suggestions" made by the commenters here. 


First off, agriculture has come a long ways since the 1930s. Yes, we are still dealing with blowing dust, but I can guarantee it isn't as bad as it was in the 30s. Even though Brad Duren might think technology isn't helping us, he is sorely mistaken. Every day, the farmers and ranchers are doing things in this area to conserve water for future use. We have implemented much better conservational farming practices to reduce erosion and water loss. 


Here's the thing though: no-till doesn't necessarily work in all soil types, and when the soil is blowing (even without tillage), very few options are available to help stop it. One option is a deep tillage that brings up large clods. It works. 


Another suggestion I've read here is cover crops. Cover crops are great! But you have to have moisture to grow them - which in case you were wondering, is something in very short supply around here. Right now, we have such a lack of soil moisture that you can plant a seed and it will just lay in the ground without germinating. That doesn't do much good, besides waste perfectly good seed. 


My ask is this: before you form your opinions about the "terrible" farming practices out here, ask someone who actually lives here. We are doing what we can, and if someone brings us a good option that might actually work, we are open to try it. This is our home. It has been my family's home for SIX generations - through the Dust Bowl and all. We want to conserve what we have for my future kids and grandkids. We need to make a living off of this land, both short-term and long-term. So before you throw your insults, think about why we would do something we know is very unsustainable. My family didn't survive out here because we were slow to change and ignorant of the impacts the environment had on us. 

Jonathan Gilchrist
Jonathan Gilchrist

I am not a farmer so excuse my ignorance but what I see is sustainable techniques in agriculture seeming to be a conservative bogey man, vehemently dismissed by corporate agribusiness.  But here we go again. Lack of crop rotation, the depletion of top soil, indiscriminate use of fertilizers.    Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.  Another dust bowl was predicted many years ago and dismissed as liberal hogwash.  What a shame!         

Mark Conder
Mark Conder

Overdrilling for water was depleting the Ogallala Aquifer well before the current drought. The drought is just hastening the process.

Ron Windsor
Ron Windsor

I live in Wilhoit, az and it hasn't rained here in 3 months so I no what your talking about no Rain and the wind also is big time here also??

Dawnita Fogleman
Dawnita Fogleman

Why do you never mention how hard the Corporate Pig farms are on our water supply?  They dump TONS of water on those sick, dying pigs!

S T.
S T.

My mother lived through the Dust Bowl years on the eastern edge of the worst devastation, in northeast Kansas.  Even here, the dust, heat, and dry were so bad that she and her aunt stuffed cracks around doors and windows with wet towels and sheets, in an attempt to keep the dust out.  It was an extra special treat, when her aunt could find a dime to send her to the air-conditioned picture show.  Both of her grandfathers, homsteading farmers in northeastern Kansas, were forced off of the land at this time.

Have you ever noticed the way older people place mugs, drinking glasses, plates and bowls upside down in cupboards?  They learned this as children.  It prevented the fine dust from settling in the dishes.

In the 1980s, friends from the farming communities in northwestern Kansas, which, on average, receive around 20 inches of rain each year, were already commenting on the need to dig wells deeper and deeper to reach water.  Even thirty years ago, the depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer was apparent.  The soil of irrigated crop lands continues to become saltier and saltier from the evaporation of water from the aquifer.  Even if the water resources were somehow miraculously replenished, the degradation of irrigated lands in the drier counties would continue.

The new dustbowl is real.  I have seen the dust storms, just like a black and white photo from the 30s.  It is a continuation of the environmental devastation which began when the first European settlers plowed under the shortgrass prairies and high plains, made worse by global climate change, which will make these vulnerable agricultural lands hotter and drier in the years to come.

The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, is one organization working to find solutions to these problems.  They pioneered no-till cultivation, which keeps topsoil in place, and mixed crops that make use of native, perrenial plants adapted to the conditions that exist in the region. 


We have to face the fact that traditional agricultural and water use practices can not continue in these vulnerable lands.  It's time to think outside the box, and adapt to the current conditions.



joseph yechout
joseph yechout

I see that NOAA  has predicted that the El Nino  conditions in

the Pacific is foretelling a change for the better in the SW and

the West.  Cal. in particular, besides these  Farm/Ranch lands 

will benefit if true.  

David Lakatos
David Lakatos

Man made Global Climate Change what a joke. This dust bowl has been around before America became America. 

Responsible Oklahomans
Responsible Oklahomans

Fantastic article with great photos. Thanks for bringing attention to our part of the nation. Learn more by searching for Oklahomans for Responsible Water Policy.

Douglas Hollis
Douglas Hollis

@Wayne Holden What you're saying is just because wildfires have occurred naturally before, it's impossible for an arsonist to start one today?  Gotta love your logic.  As Jeffrey has stated, and as every single climate scientist well knows, climate change has happened before and will happen again.  The point is, for every time the climate changes, the scientists are able (given enough information about the relevant time period) to pinpoint those factor(s), those natural mechanisms, that actually caused it to change, whether these be orbital cycles, volcanism, fluctuations in solar insolation, etc.  This time, they have tried to identify the natural mechanisms responsible for the modern-day warming trend, and come up absolutely, utterly empty handed.  Which left only option - manmade emissions.  And basic physics completely support it.  


And here's the kicker, the laws of physics will always apply, whether you agree with them or not - CO2 is a proven insulating gas that allows through the incoming (shortwave) radiation from the sun, but traps the outgoing (longwave) radiation that would otherwise have been reflected back into space.  Thus acting like a blanket.  Do you know how much of this stuff (sequestered over millions of years into our Earth's crust) we've burnt without a  second thought before adding it to our own atmosphere?  Only a bit over a trillion tons, since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.  To make that a bit more comprehensible...annually, only about 29-36 billion tons of it.  Can you even imagine the concept of a billion tons?  No, nor me.  We are dooming our children's future on this world, and bickering about technicalities.  Think about it...there must be a reason why 97% of the world's climatologists are agreed about the role of greenhouse gases, and the impact it is wreaking upon our planet.  Or do you imagine some global conspiracy of sorts??

Jeffrey S.
Jeffrey S.

@Wayne Holden  Weather conditions refer to day to day and are unpredictable past a couple of days, climate changes refer to a significant amount of time and are predictable. Yes, there have been several climate changes in the world over it's history, but what we are experiencing today is unprecedented and cannot be explained away as just the natural order of things.


Since the industrial revolution, way before the 30's, the CO2 present in the atmosphere has been steadily on the rise.


Sure there are other factors involved, but may I suggest that your observation that Man has very little to do with it, tells me you have a limited understanding of the proven BASIC physics involved. Do a bit of research.


A problem can not be addressed until it is recognized and ACCEPTED, a big part of the environmental issues that we are facing today.


Respectfully, J

Jeffrey S.
Jeffrey S.

@Elizabeth Watts  G-d helps those who help themselves. You say we should listen to G-d's word, well if one is inclined to believe the word of G-d it strikes me that G-d has been speaking volumes for decades pertaining to the environmental issues we are facing today. As a whole, both believers and non-believers have long been ignoring the warning signs that are as clear as day. Record setting droughts in parts of the West, Tornadoes and Super storms in the Northeast, violent storms all over the world that until recent history have been unheard of.


Does not the Word of G-d  state that He wants us to repent before He offers absolution? Where is the repentance? The notion that  if we simply pray,G-d will snap his fingers and it will all go away is a sad commentary on the state of affairs. If one is to believe the Word of G-d, we were given free will for a reason and when it comes to the stewardship of the world and it's environment, it seems thus far we are failing miserably. 


So if the solution you are offering is to pray and wait for G-d to fix the problems we have brought upon ourselves, then, not only is that a sad commentary, but also stating that we can/should turn a blind eye to the warnings that are becoming more and more apparent, almost on a daily basis and just leave it all to G-d. It's somewhat tantamount to saying we can do what we want, regardless of the impact as long as we pray, G-d will fix it. A mite disrespectful and naïve wouldn't you say?


Respectfully,J

Wayne Holden
Wayne Holden

@Elizabeth Watts They have been praying for decades. Where and when is your gods compassion going to kick in and relieve their suffering?

D. Kirby
D. Kirby

Mr. Kaiser: Your comments are accurate, I believe, and well-thought out. Certainly we in the West have long known of the abuse of the Ogallala Aquifer, as well as the fragility of the grasslands themselves. And we have continued this use, obviously, to our peril. In addition, the FACT of global warming will increasingly exacerbate the situation.

Much more grain is required to produce a pound of meat than a loaf of bread. Lest we wish for $30 loaves and no steak in the not too distant future, we MUST change our ways. I sincerely respect all who work the land. However, I cannot understand how or why the people of Oklahoma would consistently elect officials who so clearly do not have their needs nor interests at heart.

Kevin Johnsen
Kevin Johnsen

@Laura Drye Everyone in the midwest? Michigan here, nice and wet, green and growing here. Technically we are "midwest" but that seems to be a rather over broad term.

Dave Hall
Dave Hall

@Kaitlyn Nelson  Drove through the panhandle a year ago in a dust storm, watching farmers plouwing their fields, kicking up even denser clouds of dust.  It was jaw droppingly unbelievable.  Had planned on staying a few days.  In the end, we just kept driving.

Some of this and will not support modern agriculture.  I understand folks don't want to hear that, but it is the truth.  Right now, this agriculture survives on government handouts and by draining ten thousand years' worth of accumulated aquifer water.  As soon as either runs out, this land will be valueless except for native grasses (ever see how deep their roots go?).


But this being us, we will first exhaust the aquifer, and bankrupt our national finances, and only then will we accept the inevitable changes. 


Re Heubel
Re Heubel

@Alan D Granger  worse:  California is in drought too, unlike the 1930's.  50% of the country is in drought....

Ron Windsor
Ron Windsor

I'm out of here come this December going up to the pacific coast around forks Washington, at least there you don't have to worry about all the bull-****???

Re Heubel
Re Heubel

@Dawnita Fogleman  Hog farms are mentioned: . . "Hog operations do have high water demands, but so does irrigating cropland," Bensch says. "I think the consensus is that agricultural enterprises are going to continue to use water as efficiently as they can, but realistically, there will probably come a day when they just don't have the water to do what they used to do." Brad Duren, a history professor, says many of his students are preparing to become teachers, but are concerned about finding teaching jobs as tiny school districts that dot the Plains disappear.

Dawnita Fogleman
Dawnita Fogleman

...no, I KNOW why...  They are GOVERNMENT subsidized and sanctioned.  So Corporate Pig farms aren't causing "global climate" issues... Only oil companies can do that... right?  Not to mention, one of the worst oil companies out here is owned by Al Gore.

D. Kirby
D. Kirby

So excellent. Thank you for the rationality. Brilliantly stated.

Edward Kirby
Edward Kirby

@joseph yechout 

The coming El Nino event may make life a little better here in the US, but is likely to make things a lot worse for the rest of the world. However, when those rains come to drought ravaged southern California, expect landslides and other horrors, as those rains won't come gently.

The key indicator (in my mind) is the annual accumulation of snowpack in the mountains. Without that, all the Mississippi's tributaries east of the main river will dry up. The Missouri River itself may even dry up.

When that happens, kiss your farms goodbye.

Re Heubel
Re Heubel

@David Lakatos  This is much worse than the Dustbowl, since these farmers in OK and TX cant flee to California - California is in the midst of a huge drought.

John Campbell
John Campbell

@David Lakatos  Just keep your head buried in the sand. Your children and grandchildren will pay for the ignorance of you and your fellow deniers, but you will have gotten "yours" the future be damned. 

Dawnita Fogleman
Dawnita Fogleman

@Re Heubel @Dawnita Fogleman  Okay.  I stand corrected.  Half a sentence.  "Hog operations do have high water demands, but...."  And there is no mention of how much water the Wind Farms use for the cement for these monstrosities they are planting out here... and how much good it does the land when they bury the broken blades...

Jeffrey S.
Jeffrey S.

@Dawnita Fogleman  As a matter of fact, corporate farming does increase global warming by the methane gas created. Although not as big an issue as CO2 which is primarily generated by burning fossil fuels and the manufacture of cement. Actually Methane traps more heat than CO2, but there is much more CO2 being dumped into the atmosphere than methane. The problem as a whole is the cumulative effect of all the greenhouse gases

whether naturally created or man made. We can't do much about the naturally occurring gases, which by themselves wouldn't be much of an issue, if any, but when you add the ever increasing gases that are man-made, it is a recipe for disaster.


Yes, Al Gore was a politician, but as politicians go I think his Integrity is pretty high. As Mr. Kirby states, if in fact Mr. Gore owns

one of the worst oil companies, the deniers of Global warming would have been all over that hypocrisy and it would be common public knowledge.What is your source of this information?


If one is truly concerned for our children's future, they should educate themselves, get their facts right and be able to back them up and not with hearsay.


Respectfully, J

Edward Kirby
Edward Kirby

@Dawnita Fogleman 

"Not to mention, one of the worst oil companies out here is owned by Al Gore."

Which one? I doubt this is a fact.

If that were true, I think all of us would have read about it by now.

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