Talk:Environmental history

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Former good article nominee Environmental history was a Natural sciences good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
August 31, 2010 Good article nominee Not listed


Material on environmentalists/conservationists such as Teddy Roosevelt belongs in entries on environmentalism and conservation, not in entry on environmental history. Pillsbury material not directly relevant to environmental history, so moved to a separate entry. Esbenson 17:58, 9 September 2006 (UTC)

this article is so embarrasing, somebody please save it.

?Saving it[edit]

I am responding to the appeal above. Any kind of re-write is likely to offend editors that have worked on the article as it stands no matter what it might seem like to passing readers and for that I apologise and hope that we can find a way through. I have tried to reorganise content for this article and to incorporate whatever I can from the existing material. I would appreciate any assistance from interested editors although would prefer comments and suggestions to be made here. I will allow a fortnight for comment (unless this is considered too short by other editors) before uploading the new version. There is still a lot of work to be done but you can see the drift of what is being prepared here. Please comment. At the moment I propose working on the new article for about another fortnight nd then putting it up in real time - about 24th Feb. Let me know if this is not OK. Granitethighs 09:03, 8 February 2010 (UTC)


I have put up the new version. I hope editors think it is more informative, encyclopaedic, entertaining and well cited. I will continue to edit it as there is some repetition and tweaking still to be done.Granitethighs 10:47, 13 February 2010 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Environmental history/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: Jezhotwells (talk) 14:00, 15 August 2010 (UTC)


I shall be reviewing this article against the Good Article criteria, following its nomination for Good Article status.

Disambiguations: fixed on dab, could not resolve John McNeill as no article exists on an environmental historian of that name. Currently directs to disambiguation page listing two politicians and a diplomat. Changed to John McNeill (environmental historian).[1] Jezhotwells (talk) 14:11, 15 August 2010 (UTC)

Linkrot: Found and tagged one dead link.[2] Jezhotwells (talk) 14:20, 15 August 2010 (UTC)

Checking against GA criteria[edit]

GA review (see here for criteria)
  1. It is reasonably well written.
    a (prose): b (MoS):
    The manual of style requires internal consistency. This is not apparent in the Bibliography section. This section should also be split into Works cited and Further reading. Please see WP:FNNR.
    Also see notes on layout of imagery below.
    Advocacy The main article link to advocacy is not appropriate as the article linked to is about advocacy in general. Perhaps use the word in the text and wikilink it there.
    Further, that narratives of this kind are not only boring and repetitive but also actually mislead due to their excessive simplicity. Further to what?
    Spelling environmnet? Check spelling and grammar throughout.
    Overall, the article is written in a text book style. Better to introduce different perceptions of the subject by mentioning who said what. Although cited pretty well, points of view about it are often presented as fact rather than attributed correctly. Remember that you are writing for the general reader. This does not mean that the article has to be dumbed down, but much of it is fairly inaccessible at present.
  2. It is factually accurate and verifiable.
    a (references): b (citations to reliable sources): c (OR):
    One dead external link as noted above.
    Currently one cannot tell whether the cited works are books or journals. Publisher details should be there, also ISBN or ISSN or DOI numbers. All of these works in the bibliography would benefit from consistent citing using the appropriate citation templates.
    Refs #36 [3] and #39 [4] should aslo have appropriate citation templates to list author and publisher and publication date.
    ref #69 leads to a search page (after I corrected the URL. This is not a reference. Please cite title, page number of book, publisher, etc.
  3. It is broad in its coverage.
    a (major aspects): b (focused):
    No mention of environmental history in South America, Australia, Africa and Asia. The artcile should reflect a global view. If there really are no such studies intehse areas then please mention it, but I suspect that that there are.
  4. It follows the neutral point of view policy.
    Fair representation without bias:
    'Perhaps Hippocrates, ancient Greek father of medicine, was an early environmental determinist when, in his Airs, Waters, Places he asserted that different cultures and human temperaments could be related to the surroundings in which peoples lived. Perhaps represents a POV. Please avoid weasel words.
  5. It is stable.
    No edit wars, etc.:
  6. It is illustrated by images, where possible and appropriate.
    a (images are tagged and non-free images have fair use rationales): b (appropriate use with suitable captions):
    The file File:British Empire 1897.jpg sandwiches the text awakwardly and is way too large. Please see WP:MOS#Images for guidance on this. The same for File:Machupicchuandthesacredvalley.jpg, File:Penn oil 1864.jpg, File:Muir and Roosevelt restored.jpg, File:HistoricalMarkerUSGeorgiaPioneerTurpentiningExperiment.jpg, File:Christopher Columbus3.jpg, File:Rice terraces.png.
  7. Overall:
    There are a number of problems to be addressed, that will take some time, so I am going to fail this nomination at this time. Please address the problems outlined and take to peer review before re-submitting at WP:GAN. Jezhotwells (talk) 15:06, 15 August 2010 (UTC)

Further comments[edit]

I have been asked by User:Granitethighs for further clarification on three things I noted in the review:

  • Could you be more explicit in what you mean by “text book” style, indicating how this might differ from “encyclopaedia” style and “Wikipedia encyclopaedia style” in particular. This would be a great help for my future editing.
Environmental history addresses three core issues.[2] Firstly, nature itself and its change through time – nature is more than a cultural construct, it is a physical reality. This issue deals with the impact of humans on historical changes in Earth's land, water, atmosphere and biological systems: included here would be issues of climate, energy exchanges, human resource use, and interaction with ecosystems as well as major natural events such as floods, volcanic eruptions, wildfires and the spread of diseases. Secondly, how we use nature – the environmental consequences of socioeconomic activity resulting from increasing population, more effective technology and changing patterns of production and consumption. Environmental history maps aspects of the transformation that has occurred as the basic human physical need for food, shelter, mobility, water and materials has, over the years, and through complex social organization been converted into industrial agriculture, megacities, modern transport systems, extensive dams, pipelines and water infrastructure, and the sophisticated technology of the manufacturing industry.[3] Other key themes in this category include the separation from nature that occurred when nomadic hunter-gatherer communities developed settled agriculture in the neolithic revolution, the effects of colonial expansion and settlement communities, and the environmental and human consequences of the industrial and technological revolutions.[4] Thirdly, how we think about nature – the way our attitudes, beliefs and values influence our interaction with nature shaped, as they are, by our myths, legends, ideology, aesthetics, religion and science. Is fairly impenetrable in my opinion, I had to read it through three times to gain some understanding.
The themes used to express these historical dimensions are many. A more traditional historical approach is to analyse the transformation of the globe’s ecology through themes like: the separation of man from nature during the neolithic revolution, imperialism and colonial expansion, exploration, agricultural change, the effects of the industrial and technological revolution, and urban expansion but also the more environmental topics of human impact through its influences on forestry, fire, climate change, sustainability and so on. “The increasingly sophisticated history of colonization and migration can take on an environmental aspect, tracing the pathways of ideas and species around the globe and indeed is bringing about an increased use of such analogies and ‘colonial’ understandings of processes within European history. This brief balance sheet has both positives and negatives, and plenty of unrealized potential.”[25] The importance of the colonial enterprise in Africa, the Caribbean and Indian Ocean has been detailed by Richard Grove.[4] Much of the literature consists of case-studies targeted at the global, regional, national and local levels Similar - would benefit from copy-editing by someone with a good command of English, but no previous involvement in the subject. - "Stand in the shoes of your readers!"
  • Could you give me an example or two of parts of the article that are “inaccessible” as, apparently, “much of it” is inaccessible at present. Again, this would be a great help for my future editing.
Really this is just the same thing as that noted in the first point. Stand in the shoes of your audiencce, take things steadily, don't assume that the audience is stupid, but don't assume that they are graduates. Simpler, less complex sentences, check out Wikipedia:Writing better articles. Your writing is good, but it could be better for an encyclopaedia. Jezhotwells (talk) 11:27, 16 August 2010 (UTC)
  • I’m not sure what you mean when you say “No mention of environmental history in South America, Australia, Africa and Asia. The article should reflect a global view. If there really are no such studies intehse areas then please mention it, but I suspect that that there are.” There are whole sections on the places you list – I must be misunderstanding you in some way.
Ah, well you have sections on geographic areas of the world, but where are teh Asian, African, South Amwerican scholars writing on this. At the moment the key works (with the exception of Ranjan Chakrabarti) are in English by First World authors, and published by US or European publsihers. What do the Japanese, Chinese, Aficans, South Americans, or for that matter Norwegians, Russians, Spanish, Greeks, etc say in their own languages, their own publications, their own scholarly communities? Jezhotwells (talk) 11:27, 16 August 2010 (UTC)
Thanks Jez - I'll see what I can do with your constructive suggestions shortly.Granitethighs 12:46, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

Style and conciseness[edit]

This article has a lot of good information, but some problems are evident. The definition/introduction is too long, and sounds way too much like an undergraduate or graduate paper. For example,

As all human experience is grounded in the natural world almost anything might be considered suitable material for research, a situation that acts as an incentive to ground the subject in particular time-scales, geographic regions, or key themes

is verbose, includes specifically academic jargon not in popular usage ("to ground"), and is closer in function to developing a thesis than presenting information. Also, many of the lists are excessive and impede clear understanding for a first-time reader:

Thirdly, how we think about nature – the way our attitudes, beliefs and values influence our interaction with nature, that is, the influence of myths, legends, ideology, aesthetics, religion and science.

The structure is redundant, using first a dash and then "that is" before defining the question "how we think about nature". Too many elements are included. For instance, the distinction between myth and legend could be important in the body of the article, but it is superfluous here.

Other problem sentences include:

Environmental history is history written with the acknowledgment that we shape our environment and it shapes us. use of the first person

Certainly as a strongly multidisciplinary subject it draws widely on both the humanities and natural science and, like all history, it presents us with a considered view of the past from which we have the opportunity to learn. rhetorical use of "certainly", "like all learn" is pompous and adds nothing

Certainly in simple terms it is a history that tries to explain why our environment is like it is and how humanity has influenced its current configuration, as well as elucidating the problems and opportunities of tomorrow. again "certainly", "in simple terms" is neither encyclopedic nor accurate in this context

I could go on, but I hope the issues are clear. Given the uniform style and high quality of information it seems best if the original author, or at least someone well-versed in the field, were to fix the writing. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:25, 28 May 2011 (UTC)

These comments from an IP are both pertinent and useful. And, yes, I am responsible for most of the content here. It should be possible with some re-organisation of content and good copyediting to raise this article to GA status. As the IP comments do not concern the factual content of the article, more the editing, then I suggest the IP do the necessary editing. I am sure the article would benefit greatly. I could then make changes to the structure and the article could be submitted for GA. It would also be helpful if the IP could take up a real identity on Wikipedia.Granitethighs 00:03, 29 May 2011 (UTC)


I have been working a bit on article related to malthusianism and wonder if there is somewhere for this type of discussion in this article? As the article is apparently quite complete and structured already I would ask for advice on where information on such a debate could go. I am not formally familiar with environmental history, so am not sure. It seems to be an appropriate topic to at least mention on this page, ie debates between malthusians/neo-malthusians and conucopians, etc.... We could also include a discussion of peak oil and other related debates. Peregrine981 (talk) 13:51, 30 May 2011 (UTC)

Random reader feedback[edit]

I like the article a lot. One point of feedback comes to mind. In the opening sentence the reference to historiography put me off a bit. Is environmental history necessarily historiography rather than just history? Does this really need to be mentioned in the opening sentence? I find it confusing.Chogg (talk) 19:48, 14 December 2011 (UTC)

Thanks - have edited lead.Granitethighs 02:53, 15 December 2011 (UTC)

"Columbus and the pilgrim fathers" ? ?[edit]

Text under the fifth image right. Is that a joke? After all, every schoolboy knows Catholic Cristòforo = Cristóbal COLOMBO from Genova who "discovered" America Oct. 12th, 1492, has nothing to do with the Puritan Pilgrim Fathers who founded Boston in 1620.

Nuremberg/Bavaria - Ángel.García2001 ~ ~ ~ ~ — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:14, 12 December 2012 (UTC)

"Columbus and the pilgrim fathers" ? ?[edit]

Text under the fifth image right. Is that a joke? After all, every schoolboy knows Catholic Cristòforo = Cristóbal COLOMBO from Genova who "discovered" America Oct. 12th, 1492, has nothing to do with the Puritan Pilgrim Fathers who founded Boston in 1620.

Nuremberg/ Bavaria - Ángel.García2001 ~ ~ ~ ~ — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:16, 12 December 2012 (UTC)

Please edit caption.Granitethighs 22:53, 12 December 2012 (UTC)

Bibliography of environmental history?[edit]

So much of this article in its current form is in the form of lists of bibliographical references that I think it may be timely and useful to spin off a new, Bibliography of environmental history article, allowing this one to focus more squarely on the synthetic substance of the field. Thoughts? Kind regards, DA Sonnenfeld (talk) 12:39, 7 April 2013 (UTC)

the bibliography is at the end where it will not distract anyone from reading the text--but where it will help students find materials to use for writing papers. Removing it will not add or improve one paragraph of text, but will give less info to readers. Rjensen (talk) 18:09, 7 April 2013 (UTC)
Hi, Rjensen. Actually, the bibliographical aspects of the article start much earlier, in the Methodology section. It's just my opinion, but altogether, this seems to rather dominate the latter part of the article, detracting from it overall. Kind regards, DA Sonnenfeld (talk) 18:19, 7 April 2013 (UTC)
I think the bibliography is great, but I really question the need to have TWO largely overlapping bibliographies (one labeled "bibliography" and the other labeled "seminal works" or something like that). Personally, if I had the time and if this were my field, I would incorporate the first bib into the second and just have one comprehensive bibliography. Might also be worth pointing out that this is, from what I see, an English-language bib. There are more works, obviously, in other languages. --Potosino (talk) 23:12, 30 March 2014 (UTC)

German authors[edit]

The article lacks some of the German (and French) specific contributions, some of them as Joachim Radkau have been translated (as Nature and Power) and gained some fame as groundbreaking studies in the field (Bentley Book Prize 2009). Middle Europe and the alpine region have as well a quite diversified tradition on land use and commons, which is not being mirrored in english sources only and they are base of the earliest and politically strongest green movement and ecology studies - including some brown spots in the third reich. Serten (talk) 08:05, 20 September 2014 (UTC)