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Old 18th February 2021, 02:57 PM   #1
Vixen
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Hunger

Can we look to history to foretell the future?

We are looking at a pandemic - Covid19 - sweeping the world. Then there is extreme weather, with very cold winters in normally temperate climates.

History tells us that there was a Little Ice Age which lasted for five hundred years culminating in 1695 - 1697, when northern Europe suffered some of its worst crop failures - with the crop growing season shortened by two months, thanks to he late and very wet spring. One-half to one-third of the population of Finland, Sweden, Norway, Estonia, Latvia, et al were wiped out as a result, with the aggravating factor of the plague.

According to wikipedia, Scotland suffered famine similarly

Quote:
The Great Famine of 1695–1697 was concurrent with the "seven ill years", a period of national famine in Scotland in the 1690s.
Likewise, it is thought the 'so-called Little Ice Age was exacerbated by erupting volcanoes in Iceland, thus obscuring sunlight in these northern realms.

This leads me to the question: can a famine of this scale happen again in developed countries?

With the cold winters, parched summers, the SARS-CoV - 2 seeming to prefer cooler air, not to mention the pathogens associated with melting ice in frosty soil, earthquakes, volcanoes, and dust from the Sahara blocking the sunlight for several days on end, is it possible there can again be crop failure and wide spread famine as a result?

If history tells is this is quite possible, what can we do to mitigate the risk?

What is the history of famine in YOUR area?
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Old 18th February 2021, 06:59 PM   #2
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As I understand it, the year 536 AD made the years 1695 - 1697 seem like a paradise in comparison. Here is a short YouTube about it:
YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.
I AGREE


As for your question, I wish I had an answer. Global crop failures (not that unlikely) combined with modern weaponry is a scenario I shudder to think about.
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Old 19th February 2021, 01:26 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
As I understand it, the year 536 AD made the years 1695 - 1697 seem like a paradise in comparison. Here is a short YouTube about it:
YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.
I AGREE


As for your question, I wish I had an answer. Global crop failures (not that unlikely) combined with modern weaponry is a scenario I shudder to think about.
Interesting. I wonder what would happen if something similar happened today?

It sounds a lot like what they said about nuclear winter (which could still happen if there is a full scale nuclear war). But a massive volcanic eruption could cause a similar phenomenon, and we are helpless to prevent something like that from happening. It could happen at any time, although such events may be infrequent. But it could have a global impact, not just a local one, if it were to happen.
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Old 19th February 2021, 01:53 AM   #4
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Guess I would go fishing and hunting. I am surrounded by a vast wilderness full of wallabies, crocodiles, buffaloes and pigs. Would want to eat limes, which grow easily, to stave off scurvy, which was a problem for early setters in Australia’s north.
Our First Nations people probably didn’t starve as they followed the animals and natural seasonal harvest.
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Old 19th February 2021, 02:05 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Sideroxylon View Post
Guess I would go fishing and hunting. I am surrounded by a vast wilderness full of wallabies, crocodiles, buffaloes and pigs. Would want to eat limes, which grow easily, to stave off scurvy, which was a problem for early setters in Australia’s north.
Our First Nations people probably didn’t starve as they followed the animals and natural seasonal harvest.
In the event of a nuclear/v0lcanic winter you would be best to pack a pair of ice skates wherever you go. You might be able to eat the leather.
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Old 19th February 2021, 02:08 AM   #6
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vertical farming.
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Old 19th February 2021, 03:27 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
As I understand it, the year 536 AD made the years 1695 - 1697 seem like a paradise in comparison. Here is a short YouTube about it:
YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.
I AGREE


As for your question, I wish I had an answer. Global crop failures (not that unlikely) combined with modern weaponry is a scenario I shudder to think about.
I loved this video, beautifully explained. However, I did think it was a little flippant. I was wondering about the nature of famine and the deep distress it must have caused ordinary people and their families. For example, in Finland, people were so hungry, with crop failure meaning the average farm was only able to produce enough rye for one loaf of bread. Think about that for a minute. So people took to wandering around begging for food and dying on the road side. They would then be despatched unidentified into a mass grave. Now, we like to think beggars and itinerants are simply those who have fallen through the 'safety net' for one reason or another, often perhaps brought upon themselves for fecklessness, too many children, drunkeness, stupidity, etc. But WAIT! These people were you and I. Ordinary respectable people, who, realising they had no food in the cupboard or cold cellar, were reduced to begging. first, probably to friends and family. Then to neighbours, and then deprivation upon deprivation and degradation piled upon degradation...they became beggars...hiking to the next village begging houses along the way for food for the kid, they likely brought along with them as proof, with a skinny horse, its ribs sticking out of it scrawny chest... maybe falling into a ditch along the roadside and simply dying, with the family back at the homestead never seeing them again and not ever knowing what happened to little Matti, but having a good heartbreaking guess.

What would the reader do, if confronted with famine and your stores of food (and toilet rolls, heheh) have run out? Could you turn into a beggar?
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Old 19th February 2021, 05:17 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
What would the reader do, if confronted with famine and your stores of food (and toilet rolls, heheh) have run out? Could you turn into a beggar?
I don't know, but I imagine I might just kill myself.
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Old 19th February 2021, 05:28 PM   #9
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Jonathan Swift had an interesting solution:

A Modest Proposal For preventing the Children of Poor People From being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and For making them Beneficial to the Publick

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/1080/1080-h/1080-h.htm
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Old 19th February 2021, 05:41 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
I loved this video, beautifully explained. However, I did think it was a little flippant.
Yes, I quickly tired of the Weird History videos for that reason. Although informative, they all have that silly flippant overtone and it wears thin very quickly. However, it is a short video and short is good.

Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
What would the reader do, if confronted with famine and your stores of food (and toilet rolls, heheh) have run out? Could you turn into a beggar?
You never know how such a trauma will affect your actions until it happens to you. I was once a victim of an armed holdup while on the job. That might have triggered a PTSD that prevented me from continuing in that job but fortunately, I was spared that reaction.

I suspect that starvation is even worse than heroin withdrawal so anything might happen. I doubt that suicide would be the most likely result otherwise we would see a lot more corpses than starving people in the world today.
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Old 19th February 2021, 10:32 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
I suspect that starvation is even worse than heroin withdrawal so anything might happen. I doubt that suicide would be the most likely result otherwise we would see a lot more corpses than starving people in the world today.
Starvation is WAY worse than heroin withdrawal.
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Old 19th February 2021, 11:26 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
As I understand it, the year 536 AD made the years 1695 - 1697 seem like a paradise in comparison. Here is a short YouTube about it:
YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.
I AGREE


As for your question, I wish I had an answer. Global crop failures (not that unlikely) combined with modern weaponry is a scenario I shudder to think about.
That was fascinating. I noted there were some discoveries in 2018 that added to the knowledge. I had thought the "Little Ice Age" was thought to be something to do with a particularly long episode of the solar minimum. A whole year of volcanic ash darkening the skies makes me very curious to look into this further.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 19th February 2021, 11:37 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Minoosh View Post
Starvation is WAY worse than heroin withdrawal.
An incredible account of starvation can be found in the book, Survival in the Killing Fields – December 26, 2003 - by Haing Ngor

The author played a part in the movie and won an oscar but this is his real account of those times in Cambodia. So sad but the day after I finished reading that book, he was murdered in a robbery in LA. He survived all that only to be murdered here in a robbery.

It's an excellent book.
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Old 20th February 2021, 03:12 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Minoosh View Post
Starvation is WAY worse than heroin withdrawal.

Food is extremely addictive. One small bite and you are hooked for life!
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Old 20th February 2021, 11:08 AM   #15
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Lots of the primary crops we grow go to barn animals, which wastes a lot of energy.

I imagine that if climate strikes and starts affecting crops (we would know about volcanoes and whatever other reasons and would have models to project and predict how long food growth is going to be depressed), one obvious step to make the best of dwindling harvests is to get rid of intensive animal production and instead grow more of the primary crops for humans.

In contrast to climate-induced hungers in past centuries, we'd be able to shift crops north or south so each dominates in the (shifted) climate where it yields the most calories.

In 6th or 17th century Schottland, the Scots had to go with the barleys and the rhyes they had, ill-equipped as they may be for changed seasons.

For those parts of the globe where all agriculture fails, I am sure there will be other parts of the globe that yield more than they did before, and international programs should be able to bail them out for a few years.

The last sentence assumes political goodwill and a certain level of peace in the world. If we don't have that, then obviously such international solutions will see obstacles, and hunger increase.
In that case, it is (as most of the time) politics that causes hunger more than bad weather.
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Old 20th February 2021, 11:21 AM   #16
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The thing is, cows can turn grass into protein. Cutting them out of that process may not result in the efficiencies you imagine.
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Old 20th February 2021, 11:43 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
The thing is, cows can turn grass into protein. Cutting them out of that process may not result in the efficiencies you imagine.
That's why I put the bolded words into "barn animals" and "intensive animal production".
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Old 20th February 2021, 02:08 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Food is extremely addictive. One small bite and you are hooked for life!
So you're saying... pablum is a gateway drug?

.

I'll get my coat.
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Old 20th February 2021, 05:50 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Oystein View Post
..............

The last sentence assumes political goodwill and a certain level of peace in the world. If we don't have that, then obviously such international solutions will see obstacles, and hunger increase.
In that case, it is (as most of the time) politics that causes hunger more than bad weather.
I suspect that it is more likely to be a matter of corporate good will that will play a major factor in the production and distribution of food in times of a crisis. In times of a potential food shortage, there is lots of profit to be had.
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Old 20th February 2021, 05:54 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Oystein View Post
That's why I put the bolded words into "barn animals" and "intensive animal production".
My apologies. Whatever meaning I was supposed to infer from your nuances, I have not. As far as I can tell, my point still stands. Please consider spelling out your point explicitly.
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Old 21st February 2021, 10:07 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by rockinkt View Post
Jonathan Swift had an interesting solution:

A Modest Proposal For preventing the Children of Poor People From being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and For making them Beneficial to the Publick

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/1080/1080-h/1080-h.htm
Very droll, I am sure.
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Old 21st February 2021, 10:48 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Oystein View Post
Lots of the primary crops we grow go to barn animals, which wastes a lot of energy.

I imagine that if climate strikes and starts affecting crops (we would know about volcanoes and whatever other reasons and would have models to project and predict how long food growth is going to be depressed), one obvious step to make the best of dwindling harvests is to get rid of intensive animal production and instead grow more of the primary crops for humans.

In contrast to climate-induced hungers in past centuries, we'd be able to shift crops north or south so each dominates in the (shifted) climate where it yields the most calories.

In 6th or 17th century Schottland, the Scots had to go with the barleys and the rhyes they had, ill-equipped as they may be for changed seasons.

For those parts of the globe where all agriculture fails, I am sure there will be other parts of the globe that yield more than they did before, and international programs should be able to bail them out for a few years.

The last sentence assumes political goodwill and a certain level of peace in the world. If we don't have that, then obviously such international solutions will see obstacles, and hunger increase.
In that case, it is (as most of the time) politics that causes hunger more than bad weather.
What happened in Finland 1695-1697 was that 1695 was such a poor year, the stores of grain had depleted, as that had been consumed instead of reaping the current crop, which had yielded little. So, come 1696, the long cold winter, followed by an extremely wet spring, meant the crops didn't take at all and in August came more calamitous weather, cutting short the growing season even more, meaning there was little food to go around, the grain stocks running near empty.

The wealthier farmsteads would have prepared for winter anyway by fattening up the pigs - the pork belly for sausages, the back for bacon and the shoulder for ham. Likewise rye bread could be hardened and dried in rounds so that the hole in the middle of each round meant they could be threaded onto a beam and last all winter, simply taking down a round as and when needed. This was the origin of the scandinavian crispbread, a much thinner and square packet-size version. Milk, too, could be churned in advance, and butter and cheese stored in a cool place, often the stone cellar built into the base of a house.

As well as crop failure, there was typhoid fever, and then a few years later, the plague broke out in Turku, to crown it all.

In one small farmstead, not far from here, an entire family was found dead of starvation in a nearby forest, with the exception of the host, who was arrested a mile away as part of a raging gang of thieves, and met his end by being hanged.

The local church's blackest day was 10 April 1697 when nineteen were buried, many of them members of the same family. The spring months were the worst of all, with 432 between April and June and 507 for the whole year. This included 67 unknown beggars from other parts of the country, who were buried in four mass graves on the north side. In those days the northern side of the church had no windows as it was believed the north was the domain of the devil. So in other words, likely unconsecrated ground.

68% of those who died were children who died of starvation or disease, or both.

According to church records in 1696 there was only only person classed as a 'beggar', by 1697 there were fifteen listed families as 'beggars'. From this type of keeping records we can glean that 'begging' was considered scandalous.

1698 - 1708 things got back to normal again with 151 burials.

I am guessing that many of those worst afflicted did not foresee the coming famine. I expect the folk who did have stores, pretty much had to barricade themselves in and hide whatever they had from all the marauding hunger-crazed beggars from other regions.

South West Finland is by far the most fertile part of the country, with current market values for fields being three times more than other parts, so it certainly would have attracted the poor and hungry from worse hit areas, further inland.


Cannibalism? We hear a lot about this re the Siege of Leningrad (1942). It is hard to separate reality from urban myth, but there is an account told of the 1696 famine, of a man's intestines found on a road in Hakula but no signs of a body.
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Old 21st February 2021, 10:57 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
My apologies. Whatever meaning I was supposed to infer from your nuances, I have not. As far as I can tell, my point still stands. Please consider spelling out your point explicitly.
People can't eat grass, but we can eat corn.

Not feeding grass to cows wouldn't help us, as we can't eat it ourselves, but not feeding corn to cows, pigs, and chickens, would mean more food for people, though less protein.

The distinction he's making with "barn animals" seems to be the difference between trying to save grass and trying to save corn.

(It's also possible that at least some of the farms growing corn could grow other crops instead)
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Old 21st February 2021, 11:35 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
That was fascinating. I noted there were some discoveries in 2018 that added to the knowledge. I had thought the "Little Ice Age" was thought to be something to do with a particularly long episode of the solar minimum. A whole year of volcanic ash darkening the skies makes me very curious to look into this further.

Thanks for sharing.
It is interesting to look at the climate surrounding historical events. I think I quoted the following volcanoes said to be responsible for some of the problems:

Quote:
The 1690s marked the lowest point of the Little Ice Age, of colder and wetter weather.[3] This reduced the altitude at which crops could be grown and shortened the growing season by up to two months in extreme years, as it did in the 1690s.[4] The massive eruptions of volcanoes at Hekla in Iceland (1693) and Serua (1693) and Aboina (1694) in Indonesia may also have polluted the atmosphere and filtered out significant amounts of sunlight.[5]
Wiki


Certainly, the dates of the eruptions, seem to coincide. Iceland is not so far north, circa latitude 63°N, roughly where the Arctic Circle starts, so the ashes could well have been blown 2° southwards by the Atlantic winds.

It is now being studied more:

Quote:
The Little Ice Age, by anthropologist Brian Fagan of the University of California at Santa Barbara, tells of the plight of European peasants during the 1300 to 1850 chill: famines, hypothermia, bread riots and the rise of despotic leaders brutalizing an increasingly dispirited peasantry. In the late 17th century, agriculture had dropped off dramatically: "Alpine villagers lived on bread made from ground nutshells mixed with barley and oat flour." [34] Historian Wolfgang Behringer has linked intensive witch-hunting episodes in Europe to agricultural failures during the Little Ice Age.[35]
wiki

What about this, from the sixteenth century (Stockholm, Sweden) re the marriage of Catherine Stenbock to Gustav Vasa (the first king of Sweden):

Quote:
The marriage was conducted in the chapel of the Vadstena Abbey 22 August 1552, followed by the coronation of Catherine as Queen the following day.

<snip>

The wedding was surrounded what was seen as bad omens: the plague swept through parts of the nation, the city of Turku burned down, and people claimed to see bad omens and evil signs in the sky. The celebrations lasted for three days. When the court departed, the city of Vadstena burned down in a great fire, which was seen as another bad omen.
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Old 21st February 2021, 11:47 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
An incredible account of starvation can be found in the book, Survival in the Killing Fields – December 26, 2003 - by Haing Ngor

The author played a part in the movie and won an oscar but this is his real account of those times in Cambodia. So sad but the day after I finished reading that book, he was murdered in a robbery in LA. He survived all that only to be murdered here in a robbery.

It's an excellent book.
I've downloaded the Kindle version. Only £3.99.
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Old 27th February 2021, 03:57 PM   #26
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The Great Famine in Ireland 1845 - 1852

This famine is said to be the worst known famine in Europe in relatively recent times.

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The Great Famine (Irish: an Gorta Mór [anˠ ˈɡɔɾˠt̪ˠə ˈmˠoːɾˠ]), also known as the Great Hunger, the Great Starvation, the Famine (mostly within Ireland) or the Irish Potato Famine (mostly outside Ireland),[1][2] was a period of mass starvation and disease in Ireland from 1845 to 1852.[3] With the most severely affected areas in the west and south of Ireland, where the Irish language was dominant, the period was contemporaneously known in Irish as An Drochshaol,[4] loosely translated as "the hard times" (or literally "the bad life"). The worst year of the period was 1847, known as "Black '47".[5][6] During the Great Hunger, about 1 million people died and more than a million fled the country,[7] causing the country's population to fall by 20%–25%, in some towns falling as much as 67% between 1841 and 1851.[8][9][10] Between 1845 and 1855, no less than 2.1 million people left Ireland, primarily on packet ships but also steamboats and barks—one of the greatest mass exoduses from a single island in history.
One million out of circa 8.8m over ten years died of famine and related disease, whilst a further 1m emigrated, mainly to the USA.

The cause here was potato blight and ruined crops, leaving the largely landless population - who rented between 2.5 ha to 15 ha of land from the Anglo-Irish or English aristocracy, for example the Earl of Lucan - and were left stricken in the crop failure years. Many of these aristocratic landowners never actually visited their estates, except perhaps once or twice in their lifetime. They would hire rent collectors to collect the money on their behalf. They did not think twice about evicting them for non-payment.

Quote:
Landlords and tenants
During the 18th century, the "middleman system" for managing landed property was introduced. Rent collection was left in the hands of the landlords' agents, or middlemen. This assured the landlord of a regular income, and relieved them of direct responsibility, while leaving tenants open to exploitation by the middlemen.[37]

Catholics, the majority of whom lived in conditions of poverty and insecurity, made up 80% of the population. At the top of the "social pyramid" was the "ascendancy class", the English and Anglo-Irish families who owned most of the land and held more or less unchecked power over their tenants. Some of their estates were vast; for example, the Earl of Lucan owned more than 60,000 acres (240 km2). Many of these absentee landlords lived in England. The rent revenue—collected from "impoverished tenants" who were paid minimal wages to raise crops and livestock for export[18]—was mostly sent to England.[19]

In 1843, the British Government considered that the land question in Ireland was the root cause of disaffection in the country. They established a Royal Commission, chaired by the Earl of Devon, to enquire into the laws regarding the occupation of land. Daniel O'Connell described this commission as "perfectly one-sided", being composed of landlords, with no tenant representation.
wiki


Then there was all the political stuff about Palmerston and his Corn Laws, so with the combination of low-income, starvation, insecurity of tenure, the perception of ill-treatment by the British, the withholding of exports to Ireland and the import of maize, for which Irish farms were not equipped to mill, a major tragedy unfolded that was largely completely avoidable.

What is frightening about hunger, is how quickly people can die of it.

Picture: wiki public domain free use
Famine memorial in Dublin.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Famine_memorial_dublin.jpg (146.2 KB, 2 views)
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Old 27th February 2021, 08:09 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
I've downloaded the Kindle version. Only £3.99.
When I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. I was in a phase of reading personal accounts like that. I read another one about Tiananmen Square written by a student who was there. I don't remember the name but it will come to me.

Found it. Sorry for getting further afield.

"Almost a Revolution: The Story of a Chinese Student's Journey from Boyhood to Leadership in Tiananmen Square"

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Old 27th February 2021, 10:43 PM   #28
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Society is a fragile thing. Peace and good will break down at the first shortage of toilet tissue, imagine how a food shortage would affect everyday life as most know it.

The Covid pandemic has proven that the preppers were right to some degree. Everyone should prepare at least somewhat for hard times. Of course we can all hope something drastic never happens, but better safe than sorry.

I never thought I'd see the day in the modern US when meat was rationed by limiting purchases. Yet it happened.

I will say I'm not a "prepper" but I did decide many years ago to always keep at least 6 months of dry goods and canned goods on hand as well as a good stock of garden seeds. We did dip into the storage a few times during the early months of Covid. Beans, rice and meat were nowhere to be found in the local stores and I wasn't too keen on going out anyway. Canned soup and raviolis get to be tiresome after a few days, but they were filling and better than a mandatory fast.

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Old 28th February 2021, 02:43 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by ChrisBFRPKY View Post
...I will say I'm not a "prepper" but I did decide many years ago to always keep at least 6 months of dry goods and canned goods on hand as well as a good stock of garden seeds....
How are you not a prepper with those kinds of stocks??

6 months = 180 days, 360 to 540 meals per person, a meal in canned form is 400 g, we are talking about like 200 kg of durable food per person.

Canned food lasts a long while, but I don't think you want to keep it ten years, even five years, before eating? So in order to avoid having to throw away stocks uneaten, and avoid eating food that is years old, you want to consume those stocks - eat the oldest cans and replenish with fresh cans - on a regular basis. For 6 months worth of food, and if you want to refresh after no more than, say, 3 years, this means every 6th meal should be from your long-term storage.

Just brain-storming here - but does this resemble what you do?
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Old 28th February 2021, 04:25 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Oystein View Post
How are you not a prepper with those kinds of stocks??

6 months = 180 days, 360 to 540 meals per person, a meal in canned form is 400 g, we are talking about like 200 kg of durable food per person.
Dehydrated food weight a lot less. We've about that long in dehydrated food on hand. Not really excessive here in Western Washington's Volcano and Earthquake country where the power grid is so unstable as to go out whenever a squirrel breaks wind near a power line.

Yes, we have water and a propane stove in storage as well, and that does weigh a lot.
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Old 28th February 2021, 05:02 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by ChrisBFRPKY View Post
Society is a fragile thing. Peace and good will break down at the first shortage of toilet tissue, imagine how a food shortage would affect everyday life as most know it.

The Covid pandemic has proven that the preppers were right to some degree. Everyone should prepare at least somewhat for hard times. Of course we can all hope something drastic never happens, but better safe than sorry.

I never thought I'd see the day in the modern US when meat was rationed by limiting purchases. Yet it happened.

I will say I'm not a "prepper" but I did decide many years ago to always keep at least 6 months of dry goods and canned goods on hand as well as a good stock of garden seeds. We did dip into the storage a few times during the early months of Covid. Beans, rice and meat were nowhere to be found in the local stores and I wasn't too keen on going out anyway. Canned soup and raviolis get to be tiresome after a few days, but they were filling and better than a mandatory fast.

I think you have missed the analysis of how famine has happened in history. So, throughout Europe we had the Hunter-Gatherers who were first to venture back after the LGM about 18K years ago. Almost every day they had to go out hunting or rummaging for food. Then came the Farmers (Western, Eastern Scythian) from the Middle East who likely had never left the area but anyway ventured forth into a now much warmer Europe spreading northwards and showing the Hunter-Gatherers how to grow crops and thus, store the food, abnegating having to go out hunting and foraging. This meant that people could stay in the same area for generations instead of roaming around chasing after the red deer, reindeer et al, who migrated south in winter, with the Hunter Gatherers close behind.

So what happened to cause catastrophic famines (1695 - 97 Finland and 1845 - 52 in Ireland et al)? There was even another one in Finland some twenty years after the Irish one (1865 - 68) that wiped put some 10% - 40% of the population, depending on the region.

We saw that what happened was bad weather, extremely cold temperatures in spring, wet and frosty early autumns making the crop growing seasons short. In Ireland there was the added problem of at least two different types of potato blight and a feudal-tenancy system to exacerbate matters. What we saw was the storage of grain from the previous years was effective in keeping the population fed for the first ruined year. The second ruined year: the supplies virtually running out. By winter: zippo. Starvation and desperation set in. Any grain left is fed to live stock. Governments (JV Snellman/Palmerston) refuse to import grain for the country because the price is too high and they realise the disaster that is happening too late.

So what we get out of this is that you would need to 'prep' with at least a YEAR's supply of provisions, two years' to be on the safe side. Six months won't be enough.
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Old 28th February 2021, 05:09 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
I think you have missed the analysis of how famine has happened in history. So, throughout Europe we had the Hunter-Gatherers who were first to venture back after the LGM about 18K years ago. Almost every day they had to go out hunting or rummaging for food. Then came the Farmers (Western, Eastern Scythian) from the Middle East who likely had never left the area but anyway ventured forth into a now much warmer Europe spreading northwards and showing the Hunter-Gatherers how to grow crops and thus, store the food, abnegating having to go out hunting and foraging. This meant that people could stay in the same area for generations instead of roaming around chasing after the red deer, reindeer et al, who migrated south in winter, with the Hunter Gatherers close behind.

So what happened to cause catastrophic famines (1695 - 97 Finland and 1845 - 52 in Ireland et al)? There was even another one in Finland some twenty years after the Irish one (1865 - 68) that wiped put some 10% - 40% of the population, depending on the region.

We saw that what happened was bad weather, extremely cold temperatures in spring, wet and frosty early autumns making the crop growing seasons short. In Ireland there was the added problem of at least two different types of potato blight and a feudal-tenancy system to exacerbate matters. What we saw was the storage of grain from the previous years was effective in keeping the population fed for the first ruined year. The second ruined year: the supplies virtually running out. By winter: zippo. Starvation and desperation set in. Any grain left is fed to live stock. Governments (JV Snellman/Palmerston) refuse to import grain for the country because the price is too high and they realise the disaster that is happening too late.

So what we get out of this is that you would need to 'prep' with at least a YEAR's supply of provisions, two years' to be on the safe side. Six months won't be enough.
You left out war > withholding food used as a weapon. Along that same line, destroying your enemies crops and food stores.
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Old 1st March 2021, 03:01 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
You left out war > withholding food used as a weapon. Along that same line, destroying your enemies crops and food stores.
The deliberate withholding of food was very true of the notorious Siege of Leningrad, in Hitler's three-pronged attack on the Soviet Union 1941 -44.

This left a staggering 1.5m people dead from starvation, with tales of bodies lining the streets and hints of cannibalism.

Quote:
The 872 days of the siege caused extreme famine in the Leningrad region through disruption of utilities, water, energy and food supplies. This resulted in the deaths of up to 1,500,000[74] soldiers and civilians and the evacuation of 1,400,000 more (mainly women and children), many of whom died during evacuation due to starvation and bombardment
This had been an evil plan by the Third Reich to restrict the calorie intake to below the nutritional minimum and no-one could enter or leave as the city was encircled by a huge number of German troops.*

Another example of deliberate famine was the Crimean War, [Åland War], when the Brits and French versus Russia, which included the Duchy of Finland, bombed a silo of grain near Vaasa circa 1854, so when there was a crop failure in 1855 and a famine took grip in that region of Ostrobothnia (Vaasa area, West Coast, Finland) the Brits, feeling a bit guilty, sent some grain along to help them out.

Notwithstanding strategic bombing or destruction of food supplies, I do think the Leningrad Siege was unique in historical terms in using starvation as a form of warfare. It's incredible to think that the nazi atrocities were as recent as the mid-1940's.

*For people who hate long dry turgid textbooks, there is an excellent novel by one of my favourite authors, Helen Dunmore, The Siege, on this theme.
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Old 3rd March 2021, 08:37 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by Oystein View Post
How are you not a prepper with those kinds of stocks??

6 months = 180 days, 360 to 540 meals per person, a meal in canned form is 400 g, we are talking about like 200 kg of durable food per person.

Canned food lasts a long while, but I don't think you want to keep it ten years, even five years, before eating? So in order to avoid having to throw away stocks uneaten, and avoid eating food that is years old, you want to consume those stocks - eat the oldest cans and replenish with fresh cans - on a regular basis. For 6 months worth of food, and if you want to refresh after no more than, say, 3 years, this means every 6th meal should be from your long-term storage.

Just brain-storming here - but does this resemble what you do?
You simply keep an orderly pantry and rotate stock by consuming oldest products first and adding new stock at the back of the shelf. We still shop weekly for fresh meat and small items of course, but the dry goods, you purchase in bulk monthly and rotate same as above.
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Old 3rd March 2021, 08:47 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
I think you have missed the analysis of how famine has happened in history. So, throughout Europe we had the Hunter-Gatherers who were first to venture back after the LGM about 18K years ago. Almost every day they had to go out hunting or rummaging for food. Then came the Farmers (Western, Eastern Scythian) from the Middle East who likely had never left the area but anyway ventured forth into a now much warmer Europe spreading northwards and showing the Hunter-Gatherers how to grow crops and thus, store the food, abnegating having to go out hunting and foraging. This meant that people could stay in the same area for generations instead of roaming around chasing after the red deer, reindeer et al, who migrated south in winter, with the Hunter Gatherers close behind.

So what happened to cause catastrophic famines (1695 - 97 Finland and 1845 - 52 in Ireland et al)? There was even another one in Finland some twenty years after the Irish one (1865 - 68) that wiped put some 10% - 40% of the population, depending on the region.

We saw that what happened was bad weather, extremely cold temperatures in spring, wet and frosty early autumns making the crop growing seasons short. In Ireland there was the added problem of at least two different types of potato blight and a feudal-tenancy system to exacerbate matters. What we saw was the storage of grain from the previous years was effective in keeping the population fed for the first ruined year. The second ruined year: the supplies virtually running out. By winter: zippo. Starvation and desperation set in. Any grain left is fed to live stock. Governments (JV Snellman/Palmerston) refuse to import grain for the country because the price is too high and they realise the disaster that is happening too late.

So what we get out of this is that you would need to 'prep' with at least a YEAR's supply of provisions, two years' to be on the safe side. Six months won't be enough.
That's why you also keep a good supply of garden vegetable seeds. The 6 month food supply is to allow you enough time to put in a garden and harvest. Rinse and repeat.

This method used to be the standard way of living not too many decades ago here in the US. My Grandfather was a farmer and used mules for farming when he was a boy. Everyone at that time raised gardens and canned their harvest. Hogs and beef cattle were raised for meat.

In no way would it be comfortable to go back to this type of lifestyle, but it is possible and would definitely beat the alternative of starvation.
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Old 5th March 2021, 03:59 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by ChrisBFRPKY View Post
That's why you also keep a good supply of garden vegetable seeds. The 6 month food supply is to allow you enough time to put in a garden and harvest. Rinse and repeat.

This method used to be the standard way of living not too many decades ago here in the US. My Grandfather was a farmer and used mules for farming when he was a boy. Everyone at that time raised gardens and canned their harvest. Hogs and beef cattle were raised for meat.

In no way would it be comfortable to go back to this type of lifestyle, but it is possible and would definitely beat the alternative of starvation.
But the whole point is, what if the climate is so bad, it is difficult to grow anything for a couple of years that will sustain the whole population? In an excellent article by Yuval Noah Harari, albeit in the context of the current pandemic (Covid19) nonetheless he explains the various challenges of food supply.



Quote:


Consider agriculture. For thousands of years food production relied on human labour, and about 90 per cent of people worked in farming. Today in developed countries this is no longer the case. In the US, only about 1.5 per cent of people work on farms, but that’s enough not just to feed everyone at home but also to make the US a leading food exporter. Almost all the farm work is done by machines, which are immune to disease.

Imagine a wheat field at the height of the Black Death. If you tell the farmhands to stay home at harvest time, you get starvation. If you tell the farmhands to come and harvest, they might infect one another. What to do?

Now imagine the same wheat field in 2020. A single GPS-guided combine can harvest the entire field with far greater efficiency — and with zero chance of infection. While in 1349 an average farmhand reaped about 5 bushels per day, in 2014 a combine set a record by harvesting 30,000 bushels in a day. Consequently Covid-19 had no significant impact on global production of staple crops such as wheat, maize and rice.

To feed people it is not enough to harvest grain. You also need to transport it, sometimes over thousands of kilometres. For most of history, trade was one of the main villains in the story of pandemics. Deadly pathogens moved around the world on merchant ships and long-distance caravans. For example, the Black Death hitchhiked from east Asia to the Middle East along the Silk Road, and it was Genoese merchant ships that then carried it to Europe. Trade posed such a deadly threat because every wagon needed a wagoner, dozens of sailors were required to operate even small seagoing vessels, and crowded ships and inns were hotbeds of disease.


In 2020, global trade could go on functioning more or less smoothly because it involved very few humans. A largely automated present-day container ship can carry more tons than the merchant fleet of an entire early modern kingdom. In 1582, the English merchant fleet had a total carrying capacity of 68,000 tons and required about 16,000 sailors. The container ship OOCL Hong Kong, christened in 2017, can carry some 200,000 tons while requiring a crew of only 22.
FT (paywall)


Having one's own resources is a great solution to the problem. However, most of the Western world now lives in built up urban areas, often with only allotment plots to grow their own vegetables and fruit. Some have chickens and even a small number of livestock. Problem is, there will be a need to feed those livestock, usually with grain. I dare say grass would do for the herbivores. So anyone with the right resources will be better off than those without. Next problem: how to stave off the starving masses descending from the nearby towns to steal your crops and livestock...?

Certainly my grandparents' generation remembered people turning up at their farm demanding food, weapons and horses during the Civil War of 1918 (Finland). Thankfully, my grandmother's brother Vihtori, who was circa seventeen at the time and my great aunt Maija who was nine, managed to stave off a couple of Red ruffians who struck Vihtori hard when he refused their demands. The horses were hidden in the forest (we have a lot of forest in Finland!) and thankfully, the pair fled, given the kids were alone in the manor house at the time. My mother, too, recalls people constantly turning up from town needing provisions from their farm during the 1940's Wars.
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Old 6th March 2021, 03:49 PM   #37
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When I introduced this topic, I had been inspired by reading of the 1697 famine in Finland, after realising a huge number population decrease notwithstanding the under-12’s and the poorer labourers not even on the Parish census records that I was studying. Looking at the records in that particular parish I couldn’t seen any impact on my own family, as they didn’t seem to marry and start having children until the early 1700’s. My sixth g-grandmother is a listed noblewoman on Swedish records so is never likely to have wanted, married to a an Army major whose parentage I haven’t been able to trace and he took on a given name (Berg, which became Peri in Finnish vernacular(. Then I noticed the other great famine in 1867 – 97, some twenty years after the tragic famine disaster in Ireland. In both cases, the population during the famine years dropped drastically between 10% - 40%, depending on the region. Then I recalled my great grandparents, Matti and Maija-Liisa, had married around about then and had been gifted a former rälssitila a ‘free estate’ owned by a designated noble that the (Swedish) King decreed tax- free. Until Charles XI, when he brought in the Big Reduction, as he fought so many wars, he needed the extra tax revenue to fund them, so this Estate, which I’ll call A, reverted to the crown but the owners were still able to bequeath them to their heirs.

By the nineteenth-century – when the famine occurred – the estates were again privately owned but designated kartanos, manor houses, surrounded by cultivated fields, which had been compulsory during the days of Rust Service when each noble was expected to keep a stable of several horses, ready for cavalry action whenever the King demanded it, and this was often. (Finland being a part of the Swedish empire up to 1809.) During the famine it was a part of the Russian empire, as a Grand Duchy, self-autonomous.

Quote:
The Famine of 1866–1868 was the last famine in Finland, and (along with the subsequent Swedish famine of 1867-1869) the last major naturally caused famine in Europe.
In Finland the famine is known as "the great hunger years", or suuret nälkävuodet. About 8.5% of the entire population died of hunger;[1] in the hardest-hit areas up to 20%. The total death toll was 270,000 in three years, about 150,000 in excess of normal mortality. The worst-hit areas were Satakunta, Tavastia, Ostrobothnia, and North Karelia.[wiki]


So my great-great-grandfather was generation number six who had owned the estate, which I’ll call K., and which is adjacent to estate A. Maija-Liisa had come from across the river from Estate P., so these were three estates next to each other. I know from Maija-Liisa’s parent’s will that P. estate was 95,11 hectares in area. I don’t know the size of K or A, except by sight, but I should guess they are similar in size to P. Thus Matti and Maija-Liisa’s families owned circa 300 ha between them, with Matti and Maija-Liisa owning two hundred themselves. In the aforementioned will, P., (d 1862) it mentions 4 horses, 15 cows, 1 bull, 3 pigs, 2 sheep and 50 chickens. This was inherited by Maija-Liisa’s father, Juha.

So in respect of the 1867 famine in Finland, I recalled that that was around about the time my great-great grandfather Kristian of K., had bought estate A in an auction as A was where Matti and Maija-Liisa went to live after their marriage, in 1886. She was 21 and he 23.

Oho! I was reading an account of the 1866-68 famine in this paper:

Quote:
The famine led to the exploitation of the poor and of debtors. The forced sale of small estates offered easy pickings for the rich, but also attracted the condemnation of farmers. The only people more despised than those prospering from the compulsory auctions were the traders exploiting the high prices of grain crops. Abusing the plight of others quickly became a taboo that subdued such business practices slightly.

37 It was thought that those engaging in the malpractices would face the terrible revenge of fate, and contemporary descriptions even imply that the revenge often materialised.

38 Mistrust of the exploiters could be seen as an expression of solidarity, a force for opposing the above-mentioned indifference. Solidarity was also evident in feelings of compassion towards the poor folk of one’s own community, whereas non-resident beggars were shunned.
Criminality and the Finnish
Famine of 1866–68


So, looking up the records, my great-great grandfather, Kristian had bought estate A , in 1868, in an auction for 2,000 Finnish Marks (not a poor holding by any means and in fact, the former owner’s parents ran the second most lavish King’s Inn (kestikievari) after the one in Masku, so Juho and his wife must have indeed fallen on some very hard times to be forced into an auction sale. However, they were still allowed to live in a croft (torppa) in an annexed part of the estate until their death. This is highly unusual because an estate would almost always be handed down to the next generation or to a relative. Or if selling, would move away to a new property.

I also noticed in the various wills, people would leave barrels of farm produce, as well as obtaining them when buying property. 3 x great grandfather P. (they took the name of their estate) bought a croft to add to his land for which he paid 137 roubles and 14 kopeks and sold it to his son-in-law several years later for 2,000 Finnish Markka, plus 5 barrels of rye and five half-barrels of wheat. 2 x great- grandfather from the K., estate, Kristian, left in his will, ten barrels of ironworks, ten barrels of oats, 1.5 barrels of wheat, ten half-barrels of peas, five half-barrels of barley and five barrels of potatoes, 1 horse, 2 oxen, 1 bull, 5 cows, 2 heifers, 9 sheep and 3 pigs, together with all the other effects. My great grandfather Matti had already bought estate A. from his parents in 1886. His younger brother took the K. estate.

So, it is evident that in a time of famine and want, food became a valuable currency on a par with money and chattels, amongst those who had any.

If people want to read more about this particular famine, I can recommend White Hunger by Aki Ollikainen (Author) .

Quote:
1867: a year of devastating famine in Finland. Marja, a farmer's wife from the north, sets off on foot through the snow with her two young children. Their goal: St Petersburg, where people say there is bread. Others are also heading south, just as desperate to survive. Ruuni, a boy she meets, seems trustworthy. But can anyone really help? ------ Why Peirene chose to publish this book: 'Like Cormac McCarthy's The Road, this apocalyptic tale deals with the human will to survive. And let me be honest: There will come a point in this book where you can take no more of the snow-covered desolation. But then the first rays of spring sun appear and our belief in the human spirit revives. A stunning tale.' Meike Ziervogel, Publisher
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Old 8th March 2021, 07:13 AM   #38
Airfix
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Climate change is making the planet wetter, with more rain, there's an increased likelihood of crops rotting in fields.

So with climate change, there's an increased risk of famine.
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Old 8th March 2021, 06:46 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by Airfix View Post
Climate change is making the planet wetter, with more rain, there's an increased likelihood of crops rotting in fields.

So with climate change, there's an increased risk of famine.
I think the last sentence is true, but it doesn't follow from the first. One effect of climate change may be an increased risk of crops rotting in the fields. Another effect may be more crop growth in currently dry areas. Which of these is likely to be a stronger effect? It's not obvious. (please read on because I'm basically agreeing with you).

The more obvious issue with climate change, though, is that conditions will change. Areas currently suitable for one type of crops (whether wet or dry) will no longer be as suitable for that set of crops. Sometimes it may be easy to change practices along with the weather, but much of farming requires infrastructure or long term investment. Orchards that took decades to grow can't simply be regrown in other regions. In an overly simplistic case, if one place is dependent upon irrigation infrastructure and another isn't, if we switch their climates yields drop, because the infrastructure doesn't get moved along with the climate change. Places that are currently particularly fertile also have the people living in them to take advantage of that, but those people may not be able to move to newly fertile areas if their current locations become less fertile, because of, among many other things, political borders.

This issue also seems even worse for natural environments than for human controlled environments. Farmers can plant new seeds (even if it means learning new skills and techniques and at least an initial learning curve and likely drop in yield), but plant and animal species can't just jump to a new location, even if there are locations that become newly viable for them.

So even if there's no overall drop in the average suitability for farming (which it seems likely that there will be), I'd still expect average yields to fall.
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Old 9th March 2021, 05:45 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
That was fascinating. I noted there were some discoveries in 2018 that added to the knowledge. I had thought the "Little Ice Age" was thought to be something to do with a particularly long episode of the solar minimum. A whole year of volcanic ash darkening the skies makes me very curious to look into this further.

Thanks for sharing.
The 535/6CE Event is still much studied and there are two basic theories, volcano or impact.
Those who favour the volcanic hypothesis (the majority of scientists) believe that either a single massive eruption, or a chain of smaller eruptions, were responsible. The main suspects are Krakatoa (Indonesia), Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) or Ilopango (El Salvador). Most recent research favours either El Chichon, in Chiapas in southern Mexico, as the culprit or perhaps a 'double event' with two eruptions in 536CE and 540CE.

Some scientists postulate a string of cometary impacts, probably mainly in the tropics, into the oceans were responsible. There are possible impact craters in Gulf of Carpentaria (Australia) and the North Sea near Norway.

The consequences were worldwide. Both the Sassanid (neo-Persian) and Gupta (Indian) empires were seriously weakened and fell soon afterwards.
It began the decline of Teotihuacan (in modern-day Mexico), one of the most populous human cities of the time.
The weather and food shortages effected Roman conduct of the war against the Vandals. This, combined with the disruption of Slavic cultures, triggering incursions into Roman territory (starting in 536) weakened Byzantium.
The Plague of Justinian (541-3CE), the first introduction of Bubonic plague from Africa to Europe, was probably caused by the necessity to import food to feed the Roman Empire. The plague spread rapidly and far, with cases recorded in Ulster in 545. The spread of the plague in turn disrupted trade patterns across Eurasia and have significant local consequences, including perhaps the Saxon defeat of the Britons and Lothar’s conquest of Burgundy.
China was particularly badly effected. Large scale crop failures, worsened by droughts and falls of ‘yellow dust’ led to the collapse of the tax system necessary to sustain the empire, this triggered revolts in the 540s and the near disintegration of Southern China. By 590 China would be reunified, dominated by the north.
Arabia was also seriously effected, by weather, food shortages and plague. This caused the decline in the Saba civilisation in Yemen (for example the city of Marib had its irrigation system destroyed, triggering an 85% drop in population over the period 545-585). This power vacuum, and the involvement of Amr (grandfather of Mohammed) in supplying food from Syria to Mecca, are significant factors in the rise of Islam.

From various records (the Irish Annals, the writings of Procopius, other sources in South America, China, the Middle East and Europe), examination of tree rings in Ireland, Scandinavia, California and elsewhere, and sampling of ice-cores from Greenland and the Antarctic, we know that a catastrophic event of some sort occurred; perhaps as much as half-a-trillion tonnes of dust was deposited into the atmosphere. The dust particles acted as nuclei for ice crystals, changing the Earth’s reflectivity and triggering sudden, worldwide, cooling.
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