The Spectacle Blog

Happy Birthday Jefferson, Climate Non-Alarmist

By on 4.13.11 | 8:00AM

In celebration, read Birthday-Boy Thomas Jefferson writing about climate change and, specifically, global warming, in a remarkably sane and sober way, lacking the idiotic 'at this rate!' editorialism that has caused so much harm to date, and threatens so much more:

A change in our climate however is taking place very sensibly. Both heats and colds are become much more moderate within the memory even of the middle-aged.  Snows are less frequent and less deep. They do not often lie, below the mountains, more than one, two, or three days, and very rarely a week.  They are remembered to have been formerly frequent, deep, and of long continuance.  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.  This change has produced an unfortunate fluctuation between heat and cold, in the spring of the year, which is very fatal to fruits.  From the year 1741 to 1769, an interval of twenty-eight years, there was no instance of fruit killed by the frost in the neighbourhood of Monticello.  An intense cold, produced by constant snows, kept the buds locked up till the sun could obtain, in the spring of the year, so fixed an ascendency as to dissolve those snows, and protect the buds, during their developement, from every danger of returning cold. The accumulated snows of the winter remaining to be dissolved all together in the spring, produced those overflowings of our rivers, so frequent then, and so rare now. 

Imagine the shabby way Jefferson would be treated today, for not trying to use it as an excuse to advance a policy agenda.

Oh, and imagine his reaction to that whole UVA/Michael 'Hockey Stick' Mann unpleasantness. What might he say upon learning of a half a million dollars of Foundation money being used to keep University records from the public? We'll get around that, I'm confident, if not without further legal wrangling and delay, but food for thought.

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