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Global Environmental History in the Age of Fossil Fuels

J.R. McNeill
Georgetown University

This article aims to give an overview of global environmental history over the past 200 years. It considers two of the main forces promoting environmental change, population and energy use, and their history since 1800, which in both cases is one of unprecedented expansion. It considers as well some of the principal manifestations of environmental change, such as land conversion from either forest or grassland to arable; and air and water pollution.

Lastly, it also considers the emergence of the culture and politics of environmentalism. In general it posits an era (1800-1950) of environmental turbulence, followed by another (1950- ?) of environmental tumult, the main causes of which are heightened energy use and population growth.

I. Introduction
II. Fossil Fuels

III. Population and Urbanisation as Ecological Trends

IV. Ecological Changes

V. Environmentalism

VI. Conclusion

About the author

Mc Neill Mc Neill's bookJohn McNeill is Professor in the History Department at Georgetown University in the US. He is a world-renowned environmental historian and is best known as author of Something New Under the Sun (2000) a multi award-winning environmental history of the 20th Century. He has submitted this article to as a guest expert contributor.
Date posted: 30/11/07


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