Environment disasters could be categorized as natural and man-made disasters. As the name suggests natural disasters happen, yes naturally, disasters that occur due to the very existence of nature. This would include earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones, volcano eruptions, and floods to name a few. On the other hand, man-made disasters (also self-explanatory) are disasters created by human beings. This would include wars example Russia-Ukraine war, the attack on Pearl Harbor, nuclear explosions (classic examples could be Hiroshima and Nagasaki) and pollution etc., In this article, we will discuss a major environmental disaster that occurred that went on to become America’s worst nightmare.
“March 24, 2022, will mark the 33rd anniversary of one of the worst environmental disasters of all time: the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. In 1989, the Exxon Valdez was carrying over 53 million gallons of oil before the incident, losing just under nine million gallons into Prince William Sound. What followed was a nightmare of water pollution, environmental degradation, and the deaths of many species both on land and in the sea. In fact, the spill killed 40% of all the Prince William Sound Sea otters and decimated the fishing industry. As bad as the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill was, however, it wasn’t the first…or even the worst.”
The Toxic Love Canal
A legendary place called the Lova Canal existed in Niagara Falls, New York, United States. Now, Love Canal was supposed to be a “Model City” or to be created as a “New Town”. So, these are what we call planned communities and could be any community that has been carefully planned from its inception and is typically constructed on previously undeveloped land. So in a way, Love Canal too was going to get transformed, and the man behind this vision was William T Love.
But despite considerable backing, Love’s project was unable to endure the one-two punch of fluctuations in the economy and by the 1920s the canal was turned into a municipal and industrial chemical dumpsite.
The Hooker Chemical Company eventually purchased the Love Canal around 1940’s, “with government sanction, began using the partially dug canal as a chemical waste dump. At the end of this period, the contents of the canal consisted of around 21,000 tons of toxic chemicals, including at least twelve that are known carcinogens (halogenated organics, chlorobenzenes, and dioxin among them).” Hooker capped the 16-acre hazardous waste landfill in clay and sold the land to the Niagara Falls School Board, attempting to absolve itself of any future liability by including a warning in the property deed.
“By the mid-1970s, residents were becoming alarmed over the high rate of cancer and birth defects among the residents and the large number of illnesses in children attending the elementary school. The tipping point came when a period of heavy rains and excessive snowfalls added a great deal of water to the soil, driving the toxic mixture further away from the canal site.”
The Dust Bowl
“Of all the droughts that have occurred in the United States, the drought events of the 1930s are widely considered to be the “drought of record” for the nation. The 1930s drought is often referred to as if it were one episode, but it was several distinct events occurring in such rapid succession that affected regions were not able to recover adequately before another drought began. The term Dust Bowl was coined in 1935 when an AP reporter, Robert Geiger, used it to describe the drought-affected south-central United States in the aftermath of horrific dust storms. Although it technically refers to the western third of Kansas, southeastern Colorado, the Oklahoma Panhandle, the northern two-thirds of the Texas Panhandle, and northeastern New Mexico, the Dust Bowl has come to symbolize the hardships of the entire nation during the 1930s.”
What is the meaning of the Dust Bowl? Dust Bowl is nothing, but dust storms and mainly refers to the one that occurred during the 1930s in the United States. Winds were horribly high and choking, dust pretty much 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 main reason for such disaster was that there were number of poor land management practices in the Great Plains region increased the vulnerability of the area before the 1930s drought. At that time, little was known of the region’s climate. Several expeditions had explored the region, but they were not studying the region for its agricultural potential, and, furthermore, their findings went into government reports that were not readily available to the general public (Fite, 1966). Misleading information, however, was plentiful. “Boosters” of the region, hoping to promote settlement, put forth glowing but inaccurate accounts of the Great Plains’ agricultural potential.
In addition to this inaccurate information, most settlers had little money and few other assets, and their farming experience was based on conditions in the more humid eastern United States, so the crops and cultivation practices they chose often were not suitable for the Great Plains. But the earliest settlements occurred during a wet cycle, and the first crops flourished, so settlers were encouraged to continue practices that would later have to be abandoned.
Can we call the dust bowl incident a natural disaster that a man created? Clearly, there is one thing that we never learn is that “History always repeats itself”. Basic information regarding climate and or toxic land should be available to the public. Why wait till millions of deaths occur? Why not invest in better planning? Planning that is preferably eco-friendly.
 Five of The Biggest Environmental Disasters of All Time (aceenvironmental.net)  Planned community - Wikipedia  Eckardt C. Beck, The Love Canal Tragedy, January 1979, retrieved from The Love Canal Tragedy | About EPA | US EPA  Dr. Jordan Kleiman, Love Canal: A Brief History, retrieved from Love Canal: A Brief History | SUNY Geneseo  Ibid.  Beck, Eckardt C. "The Love Canal Tragedy." EPA Journal. (January 1979). Retrieved from: The Love Canal Tragedy | Encyclopedia.com  The Dust Bowl | National Drought Mitigation Center (unl.edu)  Dust Bowl: Causes, Definition & Years | HISTORY  Ibid.  The Dust Bowl | National Drought Mitigation Center (unl.edu)  Id 10.  Ibid.  Ibid.  Ibid.