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Ice Skating on the Seine

Published May 20, 2022
Updated Jun 07, 2022

📍 🇫🇷 Ice Skating on the Seine 

"The Seine is blocked. People ice skating at Pont des Arts", wrote French novelist Victor Hugo at the end of January 1848. 

Quite a moving diary entry, as this would be near impossible nowadays obviously, temperatures having begun their global rise in... 1850 CE precisely. And by 2°C since 1848. Hugo was not aware of it but his generation was witnessing the end of the "Little Ice Age" which started in 1300-1350 CE. Colder temperatures for five centuries. Historians and environmental experts blame the industrial revolution and its massive coal consumption for this sudden shift. 

Another fascinating point of comparison is the diary of Roman Emperor Julian, who resided near the Seine for many years before France (and Paris) existed in their current form. In 358 CE (a long time ago but the same 2°C difference with our century!), he complained about "large plates of frozen marbles in winter that destroyed bridges...".

Again: nothing like that nowadays. The river is tamed, but at what cost?

____ Sources ____

>> Victor Hugo, "Choses vues", 1848 
>> Emmanuel Leroy Ladurie, "Histoire du climat", 1967 
>> Lavalou, "Paris, une anthologie", 2019

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