Posted: Nov 27, 2012 7:23 PM by Pat Shingleton
In the late 1700s, many scholars were debating whether human activities were changing the earth's climate. As noted in a previous column, Thomas Jefferson and his colleague, Harvard professor Samuel Williams, wrote; "A change in our climate is taking place...both heats and colds are much more moderate within the memory of the middle-aged. When settlers enter a township their first business is to cut down trees, clear lands and sow grains." It was their belief that the surface of the earth became warm and dry and as settlements increased, the effects are more extensive. Dr. Noah Webster believed that the clearing of lands welcomed more sun, thus the changeover from forest to field changes the heat balance. Webster's reflections were noted by Helmut Landsberg 170 years later.