How Crop Circles Saved the Great Plains

In the 1940s, Farmer Frank Zybach Invented Center Pivot Irrigation and Brought the Dust Bowl Back to Life

If you live in the Great Plains, sooner or later you’ll get a question about those “crop circles” that can be observed from airplane windows during flights over the region. The answer is contained in the question: Put simply, they are circles of cropland.

The circular pattern, however, is different from the regular patchwork many people imagine traditional farm fields to be. The shape is the result of the center pivot irrigation, a development of the post-World War II era that profoundly changed the course of American food production. In …

More In: Economics

Helping the Environment Is Nice. Helping Yourself Is OK, Too.

A UCLA Economist Argues That More People Will Embrace 'Green' Consumption If They Get a Personal Benefit

Homo sapiens are hardwired to consume, a habit that’s taking a heavy—and potentially catastrophic—environmental toll. But pleading with people to stop driving gas-guzzling SUVs or eating red meat may not …

In the 1930s, America Defaulted on Its Debt. It Could Happen Again.

FDR's Decision to Drop the Gold Standard Holds Resonance Today as Big Bills Come Due

In the darkest days of the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, with support from Congress and the Supreme Court, agreed to wipe out more than 40 percent of public …

When the U.S. Government Asked American Families to Turn in Their Gold

American Default: The Untold Story of FDR, the Supreme Court, and the Battle Over Gold

At $20 trillion, the national debt of the United States is slightly bigger than the annual output of the American economy. Government shutdowns and brinksmanship about extending the country’s debt …

“Brexit Means Brexit” Is a Meaningless Mantra

Britain Wants to Build a Wall Between Itself and Europe. That's Not Possible.

A hard and massive self-deception sits at the heart of Brexit, one that the United Kingdom’s government has not admitted to itself, much less the public: Brexit is a journey …