By Anya Zilberstein
'A Temperate Empire' explores how early North American settlers understood the frequent technique of weather warming and attempted to remake neighborhood climates via colonial cost and monetary development.
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Extra info for A temperate empire: making climate change in early America
England and France were located well within the “virtuous mean between two vicious extremes,” in climate zones healthy for body and mind. Such conceptual manipulation of climatic geography was plausible partly because of the wide range of seasonal temperatures that were experienced in temperate environments. The temperate zone was never too hot or too cold, at least not for any considerable span of time; what qualified as just right, however, was highly subjective. If English spring and summer were sometimes somewhat cooler compared with continental European seasons, England’s winter was certainly warmer than Russia’s.
2 In the first published account of the region, A Briefe and True Relation of the Discoverie of the North Part of Virginia (1602), John Brereton wrote “truely” of “the holsomnesse and temperature” of its climate. Samuel Champlain and Pierre Biard declared the climates of New France and Acadia to be as “salubrious” as those of France, with temperatures comparable to those in Grenoble, Vienna, and Bayonne. Captain John Smith’s 1616 A Description of New England extolled the “moderate temper” of the air.
But colonial experiences with the Northeast’s formidable winters and short, sultry summers revealed a puzzling asymmetry between climate and latitude. According to decades of personal observations and adverse publicity about the region, the answer was no. Throughout the sixteenth to early nineteenth centuries, a bleak vision of the region competed with its antithesis. 2 In the first published account of the region, A Briefe and True Relation of the Discoverie of the North Part of Virginia (1602), John Brereton wrote “truely” of “the holsomnesse and temperature” of its climate.