People have been imagining that the climate is changing, exaggerating every weather event, getting widespread press coverage, and blaming it on man – for as long as there have been newspapers.
10 January 1871
IMAGINARY CHANGES OF CLIMATE.
THREE consecutive years of drought, while they have stimulated the inventive resources of practical agriculturists, have had the natural effect of calling forth a plentiful crop of speculation from weather prophets and projectors, and half-instructed meteorologists, and all the philosophic tribe of Laputa in general, to whom the periodical press now affords such fatal facilities.
We have often noticed that in the tabular statements of those compilers of weather records who write to the Times, useful and welcome as their communications are, every season is sure to be “extraordinary,” almost every month one of the driest or wettest, or windiest, coldest or hottest, ever known. Much observation, which ought to correct a tendency to exaggerate, seems in some minds to have rather a tendency to increase it. And many seem now to regard three dry hot years in succession as betokening some general change of climate, as if it was not perfectly certain, in the wide range of the table of what we call chances, that with our existing conditions of climate such a combination must every now and then recur. We know an ingenious theorist who would fain persuade us that a cycle of six hundred unfavorable years has just reached its termination, and that English agriculturists, who left off making wine about A.D. 1250 because their grapes ceased to ripen, will soon be making it again, and continue to do so for an equivalent number of centuries. Others speculating quite as conjecturally and even more absurdly, seem to attribute the impending change of climate -of which they assume the reality -to the operation of men.