John Martin's The Great Day of His Wrath, c1853. Although this painting imagines a deity-derived apocalypse, its imagery depicts the sudden and violent action of natural forces, as in Romantic imaginings of an environmental apocalypse.
His birds are fallen silent on the hills, flocks die beneath his branches
As James McKusik notes, this desolation is the result of unchecked collective human action, not divine wrath.
Another image of environmental apocalypse appears in Byron's 1816 poem "Darkness," which imagines an earth in which the sun has gone out. In the course of the poem, the humans die alongside all other vital inhabitants of the earth, which is rendered again void. In attempting to resist this natural inevitability, humans lay waste to their civilization and natural environment alike:
The habitations of all things which dwell,
In presenting her own vision of a sort of environmental apocalypse, the famous environmentalist Rachel Carson drew on Keats's "La Belle Dame Sans Merci," the line "The sedge is wither'd from the lake, And no birds sing" inspiring the image for Carson's groundbreaking work, Silent Spring. In encouraging us to imagine a world that might no longer support life, human or otherwise, poets like Byron and Blake encourage us to factor in a sense of fragility in determining how we inhabit and interact with our natural environments.
McKusik, James. "The End of Nature: Environmental Apocalypse in William Blake and Mary Shelley." Green Writing: Romanticism and Ecology. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000. 95-112. Print.
"Ecology" in Romanticism: An Oxford Guide. ed. Nicholas Roe. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. 199-218. Print.
Bate, Jonathan. "Living with the weather." Studies in Romanticism 35.3 (Fall 1996): 431-447. Print.
Vial, Jeffrey. "'The Bright Sun was Extinguis'd': The Bologna Prophecy and Byron's 'Darkness'" Wordsworth Circle 28: 183-92. Print.