“The Dust Bowl.” After all these years, Ken Burns continues to serve as America’s most famous history teacher. This lesson focuses on the environmental catastrophe that destroyed the farmlands of the Great Plains and triggered deadly dust storms during the 1930s. Dramatic photographs illustrate the devastation, and heartbreaking accounts put a human face on it. 8 p.m. PBS. Preceded by “Arizona’s Dust Bowl: Lessons Lost” at 7 p.m.

•  Carrie Underwood, Pink, Usher, Linkin Park, Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj are among the scheduled performers at “The 40th Anniversary American Music Awards,” where the winners are picked by fans. 7 p.m., ABC.

•  Wonder what Charles Dickens would think of “It’s Christmas, Carol!”? This latest twist on his classic tale features Emmanulle Vaugier as a ruthless CEO who is visited by the ghost of her former boss (Carrie Fisher). 6 p.m., Hallmark.

•  Brace yourself: Oprah’s handing out stuff again. “Oprah’s Favorite Things 2012” has the host highlighting the season’s must-have items and presiding over a giveaway for military spouses. 9 p.m., OWN.