In the nineteenth century American settlers invaded the Great Plains. Moving west into ever-drier lands, they occupied a fragile environment then proceeded over the next fifty years to create one of the worst environmental disasters in world history. Through a combination of ignorance, greed, and hubris they plowed soils that should have been left in grass. Having stolen the land from Indians and destroyed vast herds of buffalo, Americans now plowed up sod that held the earth intact, exposing the land to wind erosion and eventually to the devastating dust storms of the 1930s. Driven by capitalist avarice, powered by new machinery, and concerned only about short-term profits, homesteaders recklessly devastated a pristine wilderness. The ultimate consequence was environmental destruction, widespread impoverishment, and traumatic out-migration. The history of the Dust Bowl reminds us of the need for careful stewardship of the natural environment. It reveals the risks inherent in unregulated capitalism and self-interested exploitation of fragile environments. It is a cautionary tale to guide our future engagement with the natural world.