Thomas Jefferson Confused UHI with Global Warming, Until Noah Webster Sorted Him Out

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.

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11 Responses to Thomas Jefferson Confused UHI with Global Warming, Until Noah Webster Sorted Him Out

  1. Why would he push global warming? He didn’t have government grants to apply for to support his research. He had to pay for it himself.

  2. leftinbrooklyn says:

    Jefferson: Not wise enough to be correct every time (as no one is), but wise enough to accept that possibility.

    Alarmists, here’s your chance to be like one of this nation’s great minds.

  3. NikFromNYC says:

    Antarctic ice news appeared on Drudge Report as the site topped a billion hits so Noah Jr. now has ammo to tickle Tom with, worldwide.

  4. rocknblues says:

    Very interesting. Thank you.

  5. slimething says:

    Is Steve Mosher aware of this phenomenon?

  6. Blade says:

    Way off-topic but here is something about William Jefferson Clinton you gotta see in today’s NY Post [link]. Choice excerpts …

    “Lewinsky, who turns 40 next year, is out for “revenge” and ready to air bombshell details from her Oval Office trysts with the former Horndog-in-Chief in a $12 million memoir, according to friends.

    Lewinsky never got explicit in past interviews about her Clinton encounters, but now plans to describe his “insatiable desire for three-way sex, orgies and the use of sex toys of all kinds,” one pal told the National Enquirer.

    According to her friends, Lewinsky also will recount how Clinton referred to wife Hillary as a “cold fish” and “laughed” about their “non-existent sex life.”

    “No one will hire her and she can’t get a job because of Clinton,” a sympathetic friend told The Post yesterday. “She needs to make money somehow.””

    Fat Bastard has no comment 😉

    Nor does President DingleBarry who approves of Bubba’s lying ads.

  7. papiertigre says:

    Back to Thomas Jefferson vs Noah Webster. That was a big scoop of awesome.
    Covered in awesome sauce.

    First climate change debate in the United States. Realists 1, Alarmists 0.

    And alarmists have been running away ever since.

  8. cosmoscon says:

    I bet Jefferson cherry picked his tree ring data too. Oh what I wouldn’t give to hack into his email account and see all the snarky emails he exchanged with Gavin Schmidt.

    Great post! Loved it!

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