Global Warming Origins
While watching movies like Everything’s Cool, The Great Global Warming Swindle, and An Inconvenient Truth, something that hasn’t been very clear to me is when the issue of global warming became very big, and while I say big, I mean when everybody in America started hearing about it and actually know the term. I thought that it would be somewhere about the 1990’s, but it turns out that the first American controversy over global warming was in the year 1799! Before we dive into that topic, here is some backstory.
In the year 1787, Thomas Jefferson wrote a book titled “Notes on the State of Virginia” which was about Virginia’s natural resources and its economy. By the end of the book, Thomas Jefferson gave his belief in global warming:
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. An unfortunate fluctuation between heat and cold . . . very fatal to fruits.
According to the book, Thomas Jefferson believed in global warming before the world had invented gas eating hummers. That said, the key to a controversy is having to opposed sides; so who is Thomas Jefferson’s counterpart?
It turns out that America’s first global warming skeptic is somebody every elementary student knows.
Noah Webster was a spelling reformist and created the first dictionary titled: A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language. Webster was a huge patriot, and some sources say that he created his dictionary to give America an ‘intellectual platform’ to stand on. Webster didn’t believe in global warming, and I think the reason that he didn’t is because he craved a utopian America. I believe that in Webster’s mind, a perfect society wouldn’t have any issues that they control. One of the first times that he addressed global climate change was in a speech to the newly founded Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Webster disputed the ‘popular opinion that the temperature of the winter season, in northern latitudes, has suffered a material change.’
He also brought up the issue in 1810 in a speech titled “On the Supposed Change of in the Temperature of Winter.” Webster then went on to conveniently conclude that he was right and that there was no factual evidence for the opposing side. The controversy ended there until the 20th century.
The only way that somebody can present an idea to the American public is by having the media cover the story; if there is no media coverage, people don’t know about it. The problem with global warming is that the media didn’t start covering it until the drought of 1988. The issue has come up once before in America’s history and the it got struck down. This time, however, it seems that the scientists that believe in global warming have the upper hand, because they actually have factual data.
So why is it that the people of the United States don’t believe in global warming? The most probable answer is that it is a (somewhat) new issue, and that your politics play a huge role in a persons decision— most conservatives don’t believe in global warming while most liberals do. So in the end, do you believe that people will come to a consensus about global warming any time soon?