Noah Webster’s Influence Went Beyond Writing a Dictionary

He’s also responsible for halting climate talks for 190 years

Katrina Paulson
5 min readFeb 24, 2022


Photo by Johannes Plenio from Pexels

Global warming dominates today’s headlines — and for a good reason. It’s one subject that will affect every single thing alive today and, presumably, for centuries to come. Future generations will probably condemn us for not doing more to stop or even slow climate change down.

Knowing the blame will fall on our shoulders, I’m curious about the generations that came before us. Were they oblivious to the inevitable repercussions of their choices? Or did they see the errors in their ways but decide to continue the same path anyway, like us? How long has this been going on?

At Least Since the 1700s

As far as I can tell, serious conversations in the United States about global warming started over 200 years ago. Consider this, within days of signing the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson started recording weather fluctuations twice a day, and continued for 50 years!

In 1787, Jefferson wrote a book called Notes on the State of Virginia, which included discussions of the climate in both the United States as a whole and his home state of Virginia. Near the end of one chapter regarding wind, rain, and temperature, Jefferson concluded:

“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.”

Jefferson wasn’t alone in his judgments. He had support from Samuel Williams, a contemporary authority and author. Williams wrote in his 1794 book The Natural and Civil History of Vermont:

“[Climate] change…instead of being so slow and gradual, as to be a matter of doubt, is so rapid and constant, that it is the subject of common observation and experience. It has been observed in every part of the United States; but is most of all sensible and apparent in a new country, which is suddenly changing from a state of vast…



Katrina Paulson

I wonder about humanity, questions with no answers, and new discoveries. Then I write about them here and on substack!