The Great Famine of 1315-1317 was in the 14th century... 200 years before the supposed Little Ice Age you're talking about.
I'm not trying to push buttons. Just trying to understand what the crop failures of the 14th century have to do with a mildly cooler period that didn't start for another 200 years.
DW, what ag zone are you in now, just out of curiosity? I've never worried about a +/- shift in Ag zone before, but is +1 or -1 really a big deal? Are there things you could do to prepare for it, like build or buy a greenhouse for winter months? Maybe only buy dwarf fruit trees so that you can put them in a container (columnar apples, grow the grapes in a green house in containers, etc)?
Sis, and the rest of TSP, I appologize. I was partially incorrect with the posted information.
The Great famine did preceed the recognized dates of the Little Ice Age.
The little ice age began after the midevil warm period.The midevil warm period lasted from about 950 - about 1250. After this date, there was a general cooling in Europe and the great famine occured in this period before the start of the little ice age. But the great famine was caused by the bad weather and general cooling that was occuring in Europe from the end of the mid evil war period to the begining of the little ice age. It was a climatic shift that caused the famine.
If there was such a shift in climate again, I think it would effect us severly. There are very few that are 100% self sufficent. If we saw large crop failures due to late frosts and heavy rains, what would that do to the food supply? We as a species are well past the natual carrying capacity. We cannot survive in our current numbers without agriculture.
As far as a + or -1 ag zone. I don't know if that would make a difference, but I am planting my food forest to last for the next 50-100 years or so. If I have late blooming plants, they may survive but not produce for me if the frost comes early. And if I have early blooming, I could have the same issues on the other side. It might not be an issue at all, but since the food forest will outlast me, I thought it would be something to consider. My kids have to eat too, and I would like to pass down the backyard bounty. I will have some dwarf trees in containers, just to have variety, but the trees in the ground will hopefully be a staple.
I am in zone 5 and I get about 15 weeks of frost free weather. From May 11th ish to Oct 21st ish.
I am not worried that we are going to live the movie The Day After Tomorrow. That is nuking futs.
But as a thought experiment, I really took a look at this climate shift issue. It would seem logical that if there were periods of generally warmer times and generally cooler times in the past, that they would happen again. And if a relatively short period of bad weather could be responsible for so many deaths back when almost everyone homesteaded . . . what could it do now that more people live in cities and outside of them.