Ken Burns Talks About “The Dust Bowl”, His Latest PBS Documentary

You think today’s man interference with the nature is dangerous? Just wait until you see “The Dust Bowl”, Ken Burns latest PBS documentary this fall. Ken Burns says about his documentary it’s “the story of the greatest man-made ecological disaster in American history”.

Back in the 1930s, the Southwest witnessed one of the most damaging ecological disasters man ever caused. It came in a context when the US was highly impacted by drought and dust, as well as the Great Depression at its highest. Ken Burns talks about his latest PBS documentary in dire terms. “An epic of human pain and suffering” he calls the documentary set to air on PBS November 18th and 19th.

“This is a cautionary tale rather than the inspirational story we tried to tell in our National Park series” explains Ken Burns. “This is the story of the greatest man-made ecological disaster in American history, a 10-year apocalypse”.

The filmmaker says the dust storms were caused by droughts and high winds. Back at that time the Southwest was significantly impacted by drought. It was just the grass keeping the land in place, but when man plowed it up, the horrific dust bowl storms started to form. As Ken Burns says, so many years later, man is “definitely making a lot of the same mistakes”. “We never learn those lessons” said the filmmaker.

The storms that swept through the Southwest during the 1930s took everybody by surprised. Nobody had ever seen something like that and there was no one to explain what was going on. “The isolation was so complete that you can imagine what it would be like for one of these mountain ranges coming toward you, and not knowing what is was” adds Burns.

For many of those who lived through the dust storms, it often looked like it was the end of the world. “I don’t know how they survived. I don’t know how they did it. I don’t know how they understood what was going on” says the filmmaker eager to present his new PBS documentary about the survivors of the dust bowl.

Ken Burns’ documentary “The Dust Bowl” is a four-hour production that will air on PBS this fall.

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Eli Wads is one of our expert authors in technology and business fields.Currently living in San Marino, Eli has graduated at Southwestern Academy with a Bachelor Degree in business in 2008. Contact him by dropping him an e-mail at

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