From 1350 to 1850 AD, human civilization underwent an era of climate chaos known to historians as "The Little Ice Age".

In the 1970s, there was a media scare that evidence had been found of a coming ice age. But what if that fear were genuine? Could the 21st century have survived to resemble today if the Little Ice Age struck in the 1970s instead of the Middle Ages? And what would the Middle Ages look like if they had been spared of the climate chaos?


closed as too broad by o.m., bilbo_pingouin, Magic-Mouse, overactor, bowlturner Oct 19 '15 at 12:57

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  • $\begingroup$ Wasn't the 1970s "ice age" because the level of pollution was so high that it actually overwhelmed the effect of the greenhouse gases and made the climate cool. Once people got tired of trees dying from acid rain the air got cleaner and climate started suddenly warming. $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Oct 19 '15 at 3:24
  • $\begingroup$ No, greenhouse gases are the cause of ice ages. The cycle lasts 10,000 years. At the peak of the cycle there is lots of greenhouse gases. That peak started at around the 1300's. It wasn't until the 1800's and the industrial revolution that pumped so much pollution into the atmosphere that the cycle was destroyed. The is know 3 times the amount of green house gases then there was in the 1800's. The thing that happened in the 1970's was just when scientists were worried about climate change. But in reality there was no major temperature change during that time period. $\endgroup$ – jwiz21 Oct 19 '15 at 5:33
  • $\begingroup$ @jwiz21 "greenhouse gases are the cause of ice ages." - Not in the past. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Oct 19 '15 at 15:51
  • $\begingroup$ Some solar scientists are predicting the return of the Mander Minimum and a Little Ice Age by mid century as various cycles inside the Sun reach a period of disequilibrium. The next 2-300 years will be pretty chilly, so stock up on woollen socks and underwear. $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Oct 20 '15 at 20:28
  • $\begingroup$ The last time a Maunder Minimum happened, it lasted only 70 years, not the full 500. $\endgroup$ – JohnWDailey Oct 20 '15 at 20:38

Question 1: Yes. We would have burned a little more hydrocarbon fuel to stay warm, that's all. The people in medieval times coped, in a way, and the 20th century can cope much better.

Question 2: Too broad.


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