Green and Grim: A Global Environmental History of the First World War


Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars




For residence at the National Humanities Center during academic year 2018-2019


“Green and Grim,” the first global environmental history of World War One, focuses on how energy geopolitics linked the battle lines and home fronts with industry and agriculture in ways that transformed environments around the world. In 1914, agriculture, industry, and warfare formed a violent triad geared for the production of destruction. While combat caused devastation, the resulting damage to nature was generally short-lived. Paradoxically, major environmental change occurred behind the lines, away from the killing fields. Seeing what George Kennan called the twentieth century’s “seminal catastrophe” from an environmental perspective illuminates the global dimensions of the conflict. Understanding how warfare and energy extraction coevolved over the course of WWI helps explain the intersections of armed conflict, human victimization, and environmental exploitation today.