Losing ground

in the 1930s the Great Plains heartland of North America wasted away into the Dust Bowl. The eastern coast of the us was covered by 350 million tonnes of rich top soil, swept up from the Great Plains, half a continent away. Cattle died on the parched rangelands and thousands of farm families were able to fight off starvation only by signing on for government make-work programmes. Others gave up.

In the 1960s and 1970s television dramatised a similar tragedy