I am currently at my parent’s house in Eastern Kentucky, where love is abundant and internet connections are sparse. Prior to that, I was frolicking throughout Florida and costal Georgia with my children and my parents. I’ll tell you more about that odyssey in a Honda Odyssey when I return to civilization, AKA: the Land of Internet Reliability.
Right now, I’m tying to enjoy the Christmas Spirit even though it feels like it’s late March outside. The tree is twinkling with lights and the house is decorated for bear … but some of the trees are trying to bud and there are spring flowers beginning to bloom in spots. That’s just not right. We don’t usually get a white Christmas with lots of snow, but it is at least a chilly Christmas. I cannot even wear my delightfully tacky sweater; I’d overheat.
With this beautiful warm weather and sunshine oppressing me, I am moved to repeat this section of my December article in the Tudor Life Magazine from the Tudor Society (which you should join).
The Tudor Era was smack dab in the middle of the Little Ice Age (LIA), a period of colder weather in Europe followed the 300 years of the Medieval Warm Period, staring roughly around 1350 and ending about 1850. Shortly before Henry VIII died, the LIA ushered in a period of worldwide glacial expansion that lasted around three centuries.
The most likely reason for warming/cooling periods like the LIA is the action of the Milankovitch cycles, which are predictable changes in the Earth’s orbit caused by astronomical variations. One of the reasons scientists are certain (97% consensus) that global warming is real AND man-made is that we are supposed to be in a cooling phase of the Milankovitch cycle right now and should be entering another LIA. The earth is getting warmer despite the fact the Earth’s orbit is slightly farther away from the sun. Only the huge amount of CO2 humans are dumping into the atmosphere can explain why the earth is rapidly heating up as though it was in a galactic easy-bake oven. The Earth has been, with the occasional centuries of warmer weather that are mere blips in geological time, cooling over the last 6,000 years and had been diving headlong into the next real ice age. This new glacial period was going to get here around 3500 AD, but it that timing has been seriously thrown off course by the beginning of industrialization. When humans started pumping out the CO2 from our new machines, global temperatures ceased their cooling trend and started rising in synchronization with the rise in greenhouse gasses.
The LIA encountered by the Tudors was an especially big temperature dip in the general cooling trend, probably resulting from the combination of volcanic activity blocking solar radiation and changes in the oceans’ currents. It caused all kinds of havoc in Europe, including catastrophic food shortages and famines. If you want to know the effects of the LIA on European life and culture, I strongly recommend Brian Fagan’s book The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History, 1300–1850.
Excuse me while I go turn on my parent’s air conditioning. It’s sweltering in here.