By Anya Zilberstein
'A Temperate Empire' explores how early North American settlers understood the frequent means of weather warming and attempted to remake neighborhood climates via colonial payment and monetary development.
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Extra info for A temperate empire: making climate change in early America
What is new is the dire necessity of reversing our understanding of their environmental and social repercussions. By pointing to these kinds of ironies, A Temperate Empire demonstrates the ineluctable ways in which political disputes, economic interests, and cultural values mediated ideas, interpretations, and responses to weather and climate in the past. The climate has long been an ambiguous, fraught, and contested sign of historical change. 16 17 PA RT I Climate and Geography 18 19 1 The Golden Mean I hope you effected your journey with health and pleasure, and found your family as well as the frigid sensations of a Polar climate can admit to its inhabitants.
Another source of uncertainty stemmed from the instability of political borders in North America throughout this period, which further complicated early attempts to understand the geography of climate. The massive territorial sweep of political maps represented claims to sovereignty over contiguous lands. 7 Although all naturalists struggled to delimit phenomena like wind, snowfall, or seasonal bird migrations that transgressed sovereign territory, most writers simply chose to describe features that occurred within town, county, imperial, or national lines.
21 31 The Golden Mean 31 As such unfavorable accounts continued to circulate, they slowly eroded belief in the regional climate’s equivalence with Old World climates in the same latitude. Like many chronicles, William Hubbard’s General History of New England (1680) included a chapter on “the Temperature of the Air and Nature of the Climate” and began with a common refrain about the region’s intermediate position according to latitude: the climate of New England lyes in the middle between the frigid and torrid zones, the extrems on either hand; and therefore may bee suposed to bee in the most desirous place of a temperate ayre, for the advantage both of wholesome and delightfull living, falling into the same latitude with Italy and France: some provinces in both which countrys in former times being taken for the most desirable in the whole universe.
A temperate empire: making climate change in early America by Anya Zilberstein