A must-see video.
“When I talk to people about the Grand Solar Minimum (GSM) I usually point them to the BBC documentary called “Little Ice Age Big Chill”,” says reader Norman Grant Smith. “I tell them that the documentary will show them exactly what happened during the last GSM, and this is exactly what will happen in the GSM that is starting right now.”
“This video is an amazing history lesson. And it’s also kind of a horror story as well. People eating their children. Thousands and thousands of “witches” being burned for “causing the clouds rain storms, snow storms, crop failures, plagues etc. That kind of thing. It’s a must-see for all of us.”
This is a l-o-o-o-o-n-g video, so I’ve taken notes (below) in 15-minute segments.
Here are notes from the 45-minute to the 57-minute mark.
In France, the weather was colder than it had ever been. Two bad harvests in a row and the cold had combined to put the French peasants in a situation where they knew they were not going to be able to make it through the next year. It became a major factor in the French Revolution, the uprising that set France on the road toward democracy.
The Little Ice Age was also felt with devastating force in Ireland. For 200 years, Irish peasants had been growing the potato. But by 1840, they had whittled it down to just one kind of potato – the lumper – the most user-friendly potato of them all. The lumper was very easy to cultivate and to propagate. But, it was also a very low-quality potato, watery, and susceptible to disease.
Six million Irish depended on the lumper as their only source of food. But when a mysterious blight descended on the potato crop, the nation’s life blood descended into an inedible mass of black goo.
The Irish potato famine lasted for five years. Starving children gnawed on weeds. Weakened by malnutrition, thousands died of cholera and typhus. Emaciated mothers cradled dead babies as they begged for money to buy coffins.
It is estimated, and the estimate is probably conservative, that 1.5 million Irish peasants died during the Irish potato famine, known as “The Great Death.”
If there was any good news to be had from the Little Ice Age, it may have helped produce one of the world’s finest instruments, the Stradivarius violin. The trees that Stradivari used have been dated to the Maunder Minimum. During warmer years, trees grow fast, adding thick rings. During cool years, growth is slow and rings are thin.
According to Dr Lloyd Burkle, a paleooceanographer at Columbia University, the cold of that period may have contributed to the denser wood that the Italian luthier (maker of stringed instruments) was able obtain.
And then there’s the question of alcoholic beverages. If not for the Little Ice Age, American party animals might be drinking wine instead of hard liquor and beer. When the Little Ice Age assailed the vineyards, it killed the grape vines that had thrived so well during the Medieval Warm Period.
“It was the northern Europeans who were deprived of grapes,” says food and wine expert Joseph H. Coulombe. Even though the canals froze in Venice, the production of wines in southern Europe was not seriously cut. Northern Europeans thus had no choice but to make their alcohol from the depleted supplies of their cereal crops.
When emigration to America began, the immigrants came almost exclusively from northern Europe, with virtually no immigration from the Mediterranean Basin. The English came, the Dutch, the Swedes, the Poles, the Irish, the Germans, the Scots, who by now had been drinking hard liquor and beer for many generations, and that’s the culture they brought with them.
I stopped taking notes at the 57-minute mark. See more tomorrow.
Thanks to Norman Grant Smith for this video