Gibbon on global warming

Yale University Professor Charles Hill is one of the Yale faculty’s notable polymaths. Before joining the Yale faculty as diplomat in residence and lecturer in international politics, he seems to have been everywhere and done everything. His former student Molly Worthen titled her biography of Professor Hill The Man On Whom Nothing Was Lost (a book we wrote about here, here and here). Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal carried a letter to the editor by Professor Hill responding to a Journal editorial on global warming hokum:

The fact that the earth’s climate changes in cycles from warm to cold to warm, etc. (“Hockey Stick Hokum,” editorial page, July 14) was noted in the late 18th century by Edward Gibbon in his “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”: “The reindeer, that useful animal, is of a constitution that supports, and even requires, the most intense cold. He is found on the rock of Spitzberg, within ten degrees of the Pole; he seems to delight in the snows of Lapland and Siberia; but at present he cannot subsist, much less multiply, in any country south of the Baltic.” In the time of Caesar, Mr. Gibbon wrote, the reindeer was native to the forests of Germany and Poland, but in Gibbon’s time the animal was nowhere to be seen in those parts. And between the Age of Caesar and the Age of Gibbon, the Medieval Warming Period and the “Little Ice Age” had taken place.

Charles Hill
New Haven, Conn.