Belief that regional climates had significantly changed in historic times, possibly as a result of human activities, is firmly established in the Western tradition. Europe itself was believed to have undergone such changes, especially a warming trend, since ancient times. It was also widely believed that the European colonization of North America would duplicate many of the changes that had occurred in Europe, including the climatic changes that were supposed to have taken place. In the New World, it was at first believed that climatic change was occurring, as a result of human settlement and land use changes, but these views gave way to the idea of climatic stability. The first extensive compilations of reliable North American precipitation and temperature data in the latter part of the nineteenth century seemed to support the notion of stable climates. Ideas relating to macroclimatic change and stability that were entertained in America before 1900, mainly between 1770 and 1870, are examined.
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