Knowing Global Environments: New Historical Perspectives on the Field Sciences

Knowing Global Environments: New Historical Perspectives on the Field Sciences

Knowing Global Environments: New Historical Perspectives on the Field Sciences

Knowing Global Environments: New Historical Perspectives on the Field Sciences

Synopsis

Knowing Global Environments brings together nine leading scholars whose work spans a variety of environmental and field sciences, including archaeology, agriculture, botany, climatology, ecology, evolutionary biology, oceanography, ornithology, and tidology.

Collectively their essays explore the history of the field sciences, through the lens of place, practice, and the production of scientific knowledge, with a wide-ranging perspective extending outwards from the local to regional, national, imperial, and global scales. The book also shows what the history of the field sciences can contribute to environmental history-especially how knowledge in the field sciences has intersected with changing environments-and addresses key present-day problems related to sustainability, such as global climate, biodiversity, oceans, and more.

Contributors to Knowing Global Environments reveal how the field sciences have interacted with practical economic activities, such as forestry, agriculture, and tourism, as well as how the public has been involved in the field sciences, as field assistants, students, and local collaborators.

Excerpt

Jeremy Vetter

We live in an era of great concern about environmental sustainability. Global problems such as climate change, resource depletion, and biodiversity reduction have worked their way into both public and scholarly consciousness with a force not felt in at least a generation. Public awareness of these and other environmental issues in the modern world has often rested on scientific knowledge and research practices. This is especially the case for problems that transcend the local level; everyday experiences have often proved insufficient to comprehend larger-scale environmental phenomena. Moreover, modern scientific knowledge has become centrally important for solving or mitigating these environmental problems. While citizens and policy makers who are interested in addressing environmental issues may differ in their estimation of how vital science may be—ranging from those who regard the discovery and application of scientific knowledge as the primary tasks of earth repair to those who believe that changes in values, social and economic systems, and institutions are more important—few would dispute the centrality of the modern environmental sciences for influencing how those problems have been represented and understood.

Correspondingly, awareness of the importance of the environmental sciences in the field among historians of science has been rising in recent years. This book brings together original historical work analyzing a wide range of field sciences broadly concerned with the environment, including archaeology, agricultural science, botany, climatology, ecology, evolutionary biology, oceanography, ornithology, and tidology. Studies of local place and practice have already demonstrated the importance of the field site to how . . .

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