In this work, the author attempts to explain the failure of humanity to effectively confront the global environmental crisis, and thereby to show what is required to overcome it. It is argued that the destruction of the environment on a global scale is the final outcome of the expansion and domination of the world by European civilization, a civilization which is inherently destructive and implicitly nihilistic. The failure to respond to a crisis threatening all humanity and most other life forms is symptomatic of this nihilism. Environmentalists have failed because they have not fully appreciated the nature of this civilization, an appreciation which requires an understanding of the history and dynamics of European culture and its offshoots from Ancient Greece to the present. This focus on culture does not exclude concern with the economic determinants of environmentally destructive behaviour. The work is designed to facilitate a deeper understanding of the imperatives of global capitalism, and at the same time to reveal the possibilities open to people to create a social order free of these imperatives.