John R. McNeill is the author of Something New Under the Sun and a former Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

For three billion years microbes had the biggest effect on the the global environment. Then beginning with early trade patterns humans began to affect markedly their ecological surroundings. This trend continued apace up to the twentieth century when it vastly accelerated. The result was a century of environmental damage that threatens the future of all living things. J.R. McNeill explains the scope of the plant's predicament.