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July-August 2009

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Noah Webster: Lexicographer, Climatologist

“It is a popular opinion that the temperature of the winter season, in northern latitudes, has suffered a material change and become warmer in modern...times. This opinion has been adopted and maintained by many writers of reputation...indeed I know not whether any person, in this age, has ever questioned the fact...[but] It appears to me extremely unphilosophical to suppose any considerable change in the annual heat or cold of a particular country.”

The above quote sounds like a statement that could have been made in 2009 as part of the heated scientific and political debates over climate change. In reality, this quote is part of a much earlier but equally heated debate over changing weather patterns that took place more than 200 years ago. It was written in 1799 by Dr. Noah Webster, the creator of the first American dictionary.

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