These days, global warming is one everyone’s mind, notes Allen Baler of Food4Patriots. But, what if the most pressing concern, weather wise, isn’t warming temperatures, but cooling ones?
“With all the talk about global warming over the past 20 years or so, its hard for some people to get their minds around the fact that we could be heading into another mini Ice Age,” Baler says, “But that might be exactly what is happening. I say another because the Earth went through a Little Ice Age between 1550 and 1850, according to NASA and other organizations.”
A mini ice age won’t mean the return of woolly mammoths or a world that is covered in glaciers. But, it can mean a world where food supplies and other necessities are severely limited, meaning that you won’t be able to pop over to the supermarket when you run out of milk or bread.
There’s no sure way to predict what the future holds when it comes to the weather or the availability of supplies. But, scientific data can provide some insight into what people can expect. After that, it pays to be prepared, for a mini ice age or any other significant event that might occur.
What’s Going on with the Sun
When examining the sun’s current state and activity, Richard Harrison, who heads up the space physics department at Oxfordshire’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, told Rebecca Morelle of BBCNews that he’s “never seen anything quite like this” in his 30 years in the field. What “this” is is a sun that’s very inactive, nearly completely devoid of the solar flares, coronal mass ejections, and other forms of solar energy.
The sun follows an 11 year cycle during which its activity waxes and wanes. At this point, it’s in what’s known as the solar maximum, the period during which it should be the most active. Instead, it’s nearly dormant, leading some to describe it as “falling asleep.”
“When a long time solar physicist such as Richard Harrison of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire says that hes never seen anything quite like this, its a good idea to pay attention,” Allen Baler from Food4Patriots said. “He [Harrison] is referring to the current lack of solar activity during what is supposed to be a peak time, an indication that we might be plunging into a very cold era.”
There might be one positive to the sun’s lack of activity. Stanford University’s Leif Svalgaard noted that no one alive today was living at the time of the last weak sun cycle. Today’s scientists can stand to learn a lot from what minimal activity from the sun means for life on earth.
What the Last Mini Ice Age Looked Like
Harrison and others are drawing a connection between the sun’s current behavior and its behavior during a period called the Maunder Minimum, which took place in the 17th century. A professor from the University of Reading, Mike Lockwood, predicts that there’s a 20 percent chance the planet could be back to Maunder Minimum conditions within 40 years, according to BBCNews.
During that period, a string of brutally, unusually cold winters swept across Europe. The continent saw greater amounts of snow cover. In London, where winters are usually on the mild side, the Thames river completely froze.
The Maunder Minimum occurred at the height of the last Little Ice Age. While the reduction in the sun’s activity wasn’t solely responsible for the entire incident, it did have the most signficant impact on the era.
Preparing for a New Ice Age
Although there’s no way to say for sure whether the earth is entering into a new ice age, it still pays to be prepared. During the last mini ice age, “food shortages occurred,” notes Food4Patriot’s Baler.
“Mini ice ages don’t occur overnight,” Baler continues, “but they have to start sometime. With last winter ‘s record-breaking cold and the prediction for more of the same this winter, I know that many people around the globe are concerned about cold weather and how it will negatively affect their lives.”
People might be concerned about the impact changing temperatures might have on their lives, but many are doing nothing about it, which has officials from organizations such as FEMA concerned. According to FEMA, not enough people are prepared to weather a significant disaster.
Allen Baler agrees. “Extreme cold equals food shortages,” he says. “We’ve all seen how violent storms can knock out the electrical grid and cause supermarket shelves to empty quickly. You might be able to get away with a 72-hour or one-week food supply for that type of event, but that’s a bit risky. If we’re heading into a mini ice age as some scientists are predicting, you’re going to want to store a minimum of a one-year food supply.”
Ideally, the food will have a long shelf life, of at least a year, since there is no way to guess when a disaster might strike or how long it might last. Even if everything is fine for the next few years or even the next decade, it “just makes sense to be prepared with nutritious emergency food with a long shelf life,” notes Food4Patriot’s Allen Baler.