Discussions on Climate and Cosmology
The cause of the ice ages was a puzzle to nineteenth-century climatologists. One of the most popular theories was that the affected continents must somehow have been hugely elevated and, like mountains, iced over. However, in this 1885 study of the problem, James Croll (1821–90) argues that such staggering movement would have been impossible. Instead, he puts forward a new theory: that the eccentricity of the earth's orbit changes at regular intervals over long periods, creating 'great secular summers and winters'. Adopting a meticulous approach to the facts, he disproves a host of well-established notions across several disciplines and makes some remarkable deductions, including the effect of ocean currents on climate, the temperature of space, and even the age of the sun. With a focus on logical argument and explanation rather than mathematics, his book remains fascinating and accessible to students in the history of science.