The Nexus of Technology and the Environment

Book review of Technology and the Environment in History
Sara B. Pritchard and Carl A. Zimring. John Hopkins University Press, 2020. 264 pages.

Written by Jane Pangilinan

Technology and the Environment in History

Technology and the Environment in History dives intellect first into the nexus of envirotech to spark what is an important conversation about environmental issues. In an emerging field and ever-changing landscape, technology and its advances are by and large a major contender in solving the current climate crisis. This brings to question many issues about technology’s place in the context of environmental issues. The book Technology and the Environment in History works to highlight the implications and questions of envirotech and makes steps in the right direction towards answering them.

By using an analytic approach to examine the history and scholarly research, authors Sara B. Pritchard and Carl A. Zimring take on the difficult task of exploring two different histories and the complexities of how they intersect. The book provides the toolkit needed to navigate envirotech and its many implications for the uncertain future. 

Written by associate professor in science and technology Sara B. Pritchard and professor of social and cultural studies Carl A. Zimring, Technology builds on the concepts of the systems, boundaries, biopolitics, hybridity and environmental injustice surrounding the environment and technology.

Focusing its chapters on food, industrialization, waste, and sensescapes, Pritchard and Zimring are able to connect history with major topics of concern for environmental issues and society itself. Beginning with food’s history and ending with the complex relationships between culture and nature, each chapter is able to define the major concepts, explore the history, embrace new emerging themes, and promote further discussion.

As actors who “transform and are transformed by technology”, diving into the ethics and connections involved is integral to new advancements and next steps in the environmental sector. It is important to think about technology in the space of how it affects minorities and future generations as we look to the future of climate change and climate action.

With highlights on environmental injustices and potential for better ethics, this book situates itself in my hands at the best time during this current climate of activism and action in environmental justice and intersectionality.


Although a guide to technology and the environment, from the introduction, the authors emphasize that this book is by no means a comprehensive text. They admit that creating a comprehensive history in both environment and technology would be an impossible feat for a book of this length. Instead, this book is a primer to set the stage for greater research and more conversation. 


As a University student engaged with the corridors, complexities, and systems of what this book holds to its core, Technology and the Environment in History could easily wind its way into my own collection as a required reading for my major or even a personal read to sharpen my skill set.

This book is the perfect tool for those with any interest in the environment or technology or both.

Jane Pangilinan is a student at the University of Waterloo. She studies environmental issues in the university’s Environment, Resources and Sustainability program. In her time off, Jane loves reading fantasy novels and writing poetry.