Peter Breugel’s Hunters In The Snow, painted around 1565, depicts people skating on frozen lakes at a time that is thought to mark the onset of the Little Ice Age. The River Thames froze on numerous occasions during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The frosty monarch had her own reputation for being an Ice Queen – her frigidity being widely portrayed by the artists of her day.
Who knows when we are due for another big freeze? Contrary to predictions that the Artic ice sheet would have melted by last summer, it was discovered that the ice cap had actually increased by 60 percent since the previous year. There is mounting evidence that Arctic ice levels are cyclical and that the warming of the 1980s and ‘90s has stopped. Some eminent scientists now believe that the world is heading for a period of cooling that will not end until the middle of this century.
According to others, global warming is responsible for climatic volatility – the extreme temperatures, flooding and ice storms – that we are currently experiencing around the world. Whatever the cause, severe climate fluctuations of the future will have devastating consequences for global water and power supplies, as well crop yields. People in all quarters of the world, rich and poor alike, will be pushed to the limits of their endurance as they strive to feed, clothe and house themselves.
This will be a time of bleakness, but it will also be a time of constraint. Through adapting to rapidly changing climatic and social circumstances, a revised set of values and a new sense of responsibility will evolve. Read more in Issue 1 of Visuology Magazine.