Confusing UHI With Global Warming

Two hundred years before Hansen, Thomas Jefferson was an ardent believer in global warming – until Noah Webster explained to him 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.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/Americas-First-Great-Global-Warming-Debate.html

Jefferson had no idea that people reproducing his error would two hundred years later become the basis for destroying the democracy he created. Unlike Jefferson, Hansen is incapable of learning from his mistakes.

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About stevengoddard

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8 Responses to Confusing UHI With Global Warming

  1. Climatism says:

    Sierra Club founder John Muir left similar clues to his now hard left, eco-activist org. about rapid ‘natural’ climate change: ‘By 1879, however, naturalist John Muir discovered that the ice had retreated more than 30 miles forming an actual bay.’
    Imagine not one single arm-chair-green-sierra-club member would know, want to know or even care to know climatic facts like this…
    Contradictory facts and findings by founder Muir are problematic and have no place in a modern, progressive Sierra Club..
    http://judithcurry.com/2013/04/10/historic-variations-in-arctic-sea-ice-part-ii-1920-1950/

    • gator69 says:

      Muir was mocked and ridiculed by scientists of his day when he, as an untrained observer, claimed Yosemite was formed by glacial forces. He was a great flood denier.

  2. gator69 says:

    For the alarmists, UHI is “Unlimited Human Ignorance”.

  3. Andy DC says:

    If you take stations away from the UHI in the US, there has been virtually no warming since 1940.

  4. Pathway says:

    The elders Jefferson was referring to would have been born near the end of the Maunder Minimum and may have well seen a change in the climate pattern.

    • F. Guimaraes says:

      Yes, the Maunder minimum lasted up to the 1730’s. It’d be interesting if we had our present system of solar satellites back then.
      We’d probably having now a “deja vu”.

  5. Olaf Koenders says:

    “Both heats and colds are become much more moderate within the memory of the middle-aged.”

    Well, at least they sensibly didn’t compile data from pre-schoolers as they do now..

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