I had previously read this several years ago (it was published in 2001 and is a mere 101 pages). It is absolutely jam-packed with personalities and physics. I must admit I do not understand the physics but the main take-away from the book for me is the tenacity of three men: naturalist Louis Agassiz, a janitor named James Croll and a civil engineer named Milutin Milankovitch, who was born in Vienna but moved to Belgrade for the remainder of his life.
Several quotes I would like to share from the book, from page 3:
“And although we associate weather with the movement of masses of air around the globe, with high pressure systems bringing settled, dry conditions and low pressure systems bringing wind and rain or snow, as far as climate is concerned great ocean currents are much more important.”
From page 5:
“So we live in a relatively warm part of an Ice Age (or Ice Epoch), and the kind of changes needed to plunge us back into full Ice Age conditions can be produced by quite small changes in the heat budget of the Earth.”
And finally from page 8:
“To a human civilization, of course, an Ice Age would be a catastrophe. But on a planet now known to be more than four billion years old, the occasional Ice Age is part of the routine. It’s all a matter of perspective.”
This story entails approximately 150 years and I was astonished by the characters in this book: Louis Agassiz, who went beyond the call and took members of the Swiss Society of Natural Sciences up into the mountains to show his colleagues evidence of the Ice Ages and their effects.
James Croll was from Scotland and came from a very poor family and he became a voracious reader and realized at a young age that he wanted to be a thinker of big ideas. His health was suspect and he ended his career as a janitor, enabling him to study the Ice Ages and write a book on all his studies entitled Climate and Time In Their Geological Relations published in 1875.
And last but not least Milutin Milankovitch, who as a hobby or even better, an obsession that took thirty years working diligently to come up with a model of the prior Ice Ages. Even though this model fell out of favor in the 1950’s, and he died in 1958, he felt that his theory and calculations would stand the test of time.
With each of these three men, I learned in this small volume, the grit and determination, in addition to the passion when you have something that you wish to accomplish with your life. I give this book 5 stars out of 5 and would highly recommend you devote a short amount of time in your day to enjoy it and process what these individuals accomplished.