Imaginary Changes Of Climate


06 Oct 1939, Page 6 – The Des Moines Register at

23 Mar 1906, Page 5 – The Minneapolis Journal at

“Why the Popular Belief in Climatic Changes is Untrustworthy.

Why is the popular belief in a change of climate so widespread and so firmly fixed, when instrumental records all go to show that this belief is erroneous? It is not easy to answer this question satisfactorily, but several possible explanations may be given. The trouble arises chiefly from the fact that we place absolute trust in our memories, and attempt to judge such subtle things as climatic changes on the basis of these memories, which are at best short, defective, and in the highest degree untrustworthy.”

Climate : considered especially in relation to man 1908

03 Nov 1963, Page 296 – Chicago Tribune at

Thomas Jefferson was an ardent believer in global warming, until Noah Webster demonstrated that he was confusing UHI effects with climate.

In his 1787 book, Notes on the State of Virginia, Jefferson launched into a discussion of the climate of both his home state and America as a whole. Near the end of a brief chapter addressing wind currents, rain and temperature, he presented a series of tentative conclusions: “A change in our climate…is taking place very sensibly. Both heats and colds are become much more moderate within the memory of the middle-aged. Snows are less frequent and less deep….The elderly inform me the earth used to be covered with snow about three months in every year. The rivers, which then seldom failed to freeze over in the course of the winter, scarcely ever do so now.” Concerned about the destructive effects of this warming trend, Jefferson noted how “an unfortunate fluctuation between heat and cold” in the spring has been “very fatal to fruits.”

Webster concluded by rejecting the crude warming theory of Jefferson and Williams in favor of a more subtle rendering of the data. The conversion of forests to fields, he acknowledged, has led to some microclimatic changes—namely, more windiness and more variation in winter conditions. But while snow doesn’t stay on the ground as long, that doesn’t necessarily mean the country as a whole gets less snowfall each winter: “We have, in the cultivated districts, deep snow today, and none tomorrow; but the same quantity of snow falling in the woods, lies there till spring….This will explain all the appearances of the seasons without resorting to the unphilosophical hypothesis of a general increase in heat.

Webster’s words essentially ended the controversy. While Jefferson continued to compile and crunch temperature data after his retirement from the presidency, he never again made the case for global warming.