Recent technological advances on several fronts offer the possibility for relatively low-cost, eye-safe visible wavelength lidar systems for autonomous aerosol/environmental monitoring applications. In the area of lasers, diode pumped Q-switched lasers are now available at relatively low cost which offer pulse outputs of a millijoule at repetition rates upwards of 10 kHz. Next) improved silicon photodiodes and avalanche photodiodes have become available which offer high quantum efficiency detection at very low dark counts (10 to 1000 counts/sec) and which can be used in a photon counting mode for signal plus background and dark current photoelectron count rates of MHz. Finally, high-speed analog to digital converters and counters are now available at relatively low-cost which can be coupled through logic interfaces to PC's to realize the accurate, high speed data processing systems required to handle kHz level laser pulse repetition frequencies. This paper outlines the essential requirements and features of a possible lidar system which capitalizes on technical advances on several fronts. A baseline lidar system is suggested for monitoring tropospheric and stratospheric aerosols. Sensitivity to wavelength background radiation, detector characteristics and other system parameters is discussed for several simulated data sets.