Monitoring the environment: Taking a historical perspective

Document Type


Publication Date



This paper introduces the five papers that follow, all of which were originally presented at a workshop titled "Monitoring the Environment: Scales, Methods, and Systems in Historical Perspective." The workshop, sponsored by the Society for the History of Technology and the American Society for Environmental History, examined past efforts to develop tools, methods, and systems for measuring or monitoring some aspect of the physical environment. Four of the papers included here focus on various aspects of air quality monitoring; the fifth has to do with monitoring the earth from space. Despite differences in time period and approach, each article examines how specific tools and methods - and the motivations for developing those tools and methods - evolved. Among other things, these papers make clear that systems for monitoring various aspects of the physical environment are shaped by a variety of stakeholders and suggest that efforts to construct such systems should not be viewed as a purely technical task. © Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005.

Publication Title

Environmental Monitoring and Assessment