How time has shaped human history | Weather

Time has influenced important events throughout human history, from forced migrations to the course of war.

Sometimes these events are linked to climate change, other times they represent anomalies that have affected the future of air travel or triggered eras of famine and disease. In the upcoming list, Stacker examines dozens of ways the weather has shaped human history, drawing on historical documents, newspaper articles, first-person accounts, and documented weather events.

Chinese scientist Shen Kuo was the first person to study climate. In his 1088 “Dream Pool Essays,” he reflects on climate change after finding petrified bamboo in a habitat that would not support such growth in his lifetime. Since then, inventions and advancements in technology have allowed people to track the weather over time and, in some cases, even control it.

Around 1602, Galileo was the first to conceptualize a thermometer that could quantify temperature, allowing people to track changes in heat. The air conditioner made its first appearance in 1902; and in 1974 the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a classified briefing on the results of Operation Popeye, a five-year experiment in cloud seeding designed to lengthen Vietnam’s monsoon season, destabilize forces enemies there and allow the United States to win the war.

But far more often than humanity seeks to control time, it is time that controls.

While weather refers to short-term atmospheric conditions (think a forecast of next week’s sunshine and heat), climate refers to long-term changes in overall weather patterns over time (from decades or hundreds of years). Both are impacted by each other. Climate change affects the severity and frequency of weather events, and the costs of extreme weather events increase as the effects of climate change become more apparent. With increased technology enabling the tracking of weather patterns over time and the anticipation and identification of potential weather hazards, people have been able to avoid and prepare for some of nature’s wildest expressions.

Read on to find out what event sparked the Salem Witch Trials, a new clue in JFK’s assassination, and how a violent storm thwarted the end of the 1980 Iran hostage crisis.

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