The New Little Ice Age: Worldwide Food Shortages and Starvation Coming?

A pronounced drop in solar activity, unlike anything seen in our lifetime, could lead to a New Little Ice Age with food shortages and starvation

For 500 years, from 1350 AD to about 1850 AD, a pronounced drop in solar output from the Sun, led to the freezing temperatures, the advance of glaciers, and food shortages around the world. During this period, Norse colonies in Greenland vanished, summers were no longer warm in Europe, and there was a significant population loss in countries ranging from 10% to 30% due to harsh conditions and lack of food.

For centuries it’s been known that the output from our sun is variable. When solar output increases, the Earth warms. When solar output diminishes, the Earth cools. When solar output is highest, there are many observable sun spots. Sun spots are solar storms, massive electromagnetic disturbances on the face of the Sun that create solar flares and blast plasma at near relativistic velocities toward the rest of the solar system. When there are few or no sun spots, it’s a sign that solar output has dropped.

Today, climate scientists and others are reporting a frightening drop in solar activity that could portend the beginning of a New Little Ice Age. The current solar cycle (Solar Cycle 24) is the weakest solar cycle in more than 100 years. This has led to weaker solar storms (coronal mass ejections).

Space.com com offers this quote:

None of us alive have ever seen such a weak cycle. So we will learn something,” Leif Svalgaard of Stanford University told reporters here today (Dec. 11) at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

The New Little Ice Age?

Coronal Mass Ejection, from NASA Earth Observatory

Coronal Mass Ejection, from NASA Earth Observatory


We speculate that the reduced solar activity could be a significant reason that global temperatures have not increased during the last 11 years at a time when carbon dioxide levels have increased significantly. Global warming proponents have been thwarted in their attempts to portray global warming as a reality because the temperature data hasn’t supported their story. They do have a case to make for the increase in carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere. That’s measurable and factual. Where they’ve perhaps been sandbagged is that the atmospheric temperature on Earth may largely be driven by solar output.

Obviously with no solar output, Earth is an ice-cube, carbon dioxide, oxygen, and water. But today the worry is, will we be seeing worldwide crop failures, food shortages, mass starvation, and a worldwide population decline? Will we now experience another 500 years of cold summers, bitter winters, food shortages, glaciation, and population die-offs?

Lessons from the Little Ice Age

The core years of the Little Ice Age correspond with a Maunder Minimum during which time the number of observed sun spots (solar storms) dropped from the expected 30,000 to 40,000 during a 30 year period, to as few as one a year.

During the Little Ice Age, snowfall was much heavier in northern latitudes than ever seen before, and the snow-covered the ground literally for all months except the summer. Snow fell into regions where normally there is little or no snowfall, like the Mediterranean countries.

Vast temperature variations were seen worldwide, from year to year and season to season. There were great changes from year to year, but spring time was often very cold and wet. Tree growth stalled, laying down thick, dense layers in tree rings representing stunted growth. Reports suggest that Central America suffered cold weather and drought, at a time when ice skating on rivers and harbors became popular across Europe and North America.

During the Little Ice Age, volcanic activity increased. The powerful eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia in 1815 led to the The Year Without a Summer in 1816.

Overall, there were major population declines worldwide.

Perils of The New Little Ice Age

What perils would a New Little Ice Age bring to us?

  • Crop Failures and Food Shortages – North America has vast spaces that were prairies now devoted to crop production for cereal grains, beans, potatoes, and fruit. With the onset of a New Little Ice Age, we could see snow standing on the ground and bitter cold temperatures preventing seed germination. With an ever-increasing population now dependent on a shrinking number of productive planted acreage, food shortages, rationing, and starvation would be a possible outcome.
  • Population Displacement – Bitter cold and lack of food could drive populations away from Alaska, the Great Plains, the northern parts of the Great Lakes states, much of New England, and the northern extent of the Rocky Mountains. There’s no assurance that the “warmer” states such as New Mexico and Arizona, southern Texas, Florida, and Georgia, as examples, would have the water resources to sustain the populations fleeing the north. Presently, these states have already “maxed out” their water resources. As a result, it could be argued that the southern states will suffer from drought and water rationing.
  • Economic Collapse and Population Decline – The crop failures, food shortages, water rationing, and persistent bitter cold and snow could eventually lead to economic failure of many businesses and widespread poverty. This poverty would not be like today’s “food stamp poverty” where the poor have HD televisions, game consoles, smartphones, air conditioning, food money, and medical coverage. Instead, a possible result of a New Little Ice Age economic failure would be a kind of poverty with no safety net – no personal electronics, no food, no shelter, and no medical coverage. The kind of poverty that leads to short and brutal lives, with homelessness, sickness, and real starvation.

We might perhaps live to see such a long-term decline. And, to speculate, perhaps China has perceived this New Little Ice Age as a threat to their national security. Speculating further, this could be part of the reason that China has purchased millions of acres of productive farm land around the world. With a growing population from a variety of regions, China leadership may already be spending hard-earned dollars made from exports by buying land they’ll need to feed themselves during a New Little Ice Age.

Solar Activity Drop – References

About Bruce Brownlee

Bruce Brownlee is President and founder of Bruce Brownlee Company. Since founding the company, he has led establishment of SEO, PPC, Web Analytics, and Web Development practices for Bruce Brownlee Company. Bruce studied mathematical optimization, probablility and statistics, and electrical engineering in college and worked as an engineer and software developer before starting web development and site tuning in 1997.

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