An old theory of what causes drought

Drought is an awful, painful thing. But in doing some research on long-term milk cow numbers for an upcoming Agweek article, I came across a drought-related anecdote that might bring a rueful smile.

In 1934, drought was hammering the Great Plains. Livestock was starving; things were really bad. A popular theory at the time was that radio waves  — a majority of American households had radios by then — were messing up the atmosphere and reducing rainfall.

The theory got enough attention that a special “President’s Drought Committee” in 1935  reported, among other things, that radio waves have no effect whatever on rainfall.

Like you, I have no idea when our current drought will end. Like you, I’m 100 percent positive that radio waves aren’t causing it.

Let me leave you with this question, though: If you were farming in 1934 and drought was crippling your crops and pastures — if you were scared and a little desperate —  would you have at least wondered if maybe that newfangled radio was the culprit?

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