Letter to the editor: Why don’t people talk about the Little Ice Age anymore?

Ralph Ragsdale

It appears that the planet’s climate is changing, and scientists are blaming the actions of humans and other animals as the causes. Why didn’t (don’t) they say that similar actions caused the Little Ice Age, which covered the period of 1300-1850. The scientists say that that climate change was caused by the following:

  • Population decreases
  • Changes in solar radiation
  • Variations in earth’s orbit
  • Earth’s axial tilt
  • Volcanic activity
  • Ocean current flows

Several ups and downs of temperature occurred during the period. Worldwide glacial expansions started in 1560 and the start of the coldest years in 1650. Iceland and Greenland were vastly affected and England somewhat. Snowstorms as far south as Lisbon occurred. Crop practices throughout Europe had to be altered. There were many years of scarcity and famine. One-third of Finland was lost. Large areas of land were lost from the Danish, German and Dutch coasts. In North America, early explorers and settlers reported exceptionally severe winters. Ice was reported where it was not expected. The extreme weather caused the collapse of many early European settlements. In China’s Jiangxi Province, warm-weather crops such as oranges were abandoned where they had been grown for centuries. In Africa, there was permanent snow on mountain peaks where there is no snow today. The Ottoman Empire was greatly affected by the Little Ice Age.

Fifty years from now, people will wonder why, at the beginning of this century, a few western countries abandoned a reliable energy source and took drastic measures to make minor changes to the composition of the earth’s atmosphere only because a relatively mild climate change was experienced. Go figure.

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