Causes of the Little Ice Age (LIA) are thought to be either a major increase in volcanic activity, a decrease in the sun’s radiation, or a change in the worldwide circulation of the ocean’s “conveyor belt.”
The LIA came after a warmer climate trend known as the Medieval Warm Period. The LIA was not a true ice age according to some scientists.
Areas affected by LIA were agriculture, health, economics, social strife, emigration, art & literature.
Crop devastation caused famines, price of rye & wheat increased, wine production stopped in France, weakened immune systems gave way to increase in disease/death, emigration gave way to revolts, riots, revolution, creation of democracies. Darker skies are seen in paintings of the time, darker stories were written such as “Frankenstein.”
The Little Ice AgeAffects on Humanity
The Little Ice Age (LIA) reshaped the world through emigration, famine, agriculture changes and death.
People were puzzled about the cause of the LIA and many believed it to be by some evil force. Thus,people were burned for witchcraft. Mass hysteria was a problem.
The Vikings living in Greenland were hit hard. The land was no longer able to support livestock, the cod they ate moved south. The ocean clogged with ice.
The League of the Iroquois enacted in the 1500s is a result of Iroquois migration in search of warmer weather. This was a non-aggression pact.
French peasants moving to Paris in search of food revolted against the government, leading to the revolution which brought about democracy in France.
The Little Ice AgeAgriculture, Etc.
The Little Ice Age (LIA) devastated the reliable cereal crops. This cause a sharp price increase in rye & wheat, plus shortage of food and famine.
During this time the potato from the Andes was introduced. At first thought to be the devil’s plant, it later was an agricultural revolution & saved lives, except in France.
France’s wine production stopped as grapes died out. Beer & hard liquor became more prominent & was thus introduced to N. America by European emigrants.
There’s a theory the LIA caused the wood of the trees in the Italian Alps to grow more dense & this was the wood used by Stradivari to craft 650 of the world’s finest violins.
Wars between countries were won or lost as a result of the unusual climate. The Spanish Armada was wiped out, as was Napoleon’s army. The US Revolution shifted in our favor after the battle of Trenton, where Washington crossed an ice clogged Delaware River & attacked the unsuspecting British.
Sources Documentary Film: “The Little Ice Age: The Big Chill.” The History Channel Wikipedia: Little Ice Age http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_ice_age The Little Ice Age in Europe http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/mandias/lia/little_ice_age.htm