The weakening activity and fading sunspots in the Sun and the activated volcanoes suggest that history truly repeats itself - the Little Ice Age is coming back.
Despite the Sun's move towards solar maximum in 2013, three sets of evidence suggest the next 11-year solar cycle with increased sunspot activity may be a non-event, and end up entering a long quiet period similar to the Maunder Minimum, a 70-year period that began in 1645 when sunspots became exceedingly rare.
On the other axis, Western Europe experienced a general cooling of the climate between the years 1150 and 1460 and a very cold climate between 1560 and 1850. The latter is defined by NASA as the Little Ice Age, not quite qualified to be a real ice age because it was not cold enough nor long enough to cause larger ice sheets.
The Maunder Minimum coincided with the Little Ice Age, though a causal connection between low sunspot activity and cold winters is yet to be proven.
During this time, average global temperatures were 2-3 degrees Fahrenheit (1-1.5 degree Celsius) cooler than usual. The colder weather impacted every aspect of life, from agriculture, health, economics, social strife, emigration, to even art and literature. Increased glaciation and storms also had a devastating effect on those living near glaciers and the sea.
Rivers froze as ice and snow remained on the ground throughout the year. Livestock died, harvests failed, and people suffered from famine and disease because of the wet weather. Northern and Eastern Europe were struck by famine due to limited crops and unhealthy livestock. Peaking between 1348 and 1350, the bubonic plague, a.k.a. the Black Death, swept across Europe not only affecting animals and crops, but killing more than 75 million people, 30-60% of Europeans.
The second Little Ice Age we are to expected to encounter, however, should be less serious and deadly thanks to the offsetting effect of manmade global warming, with the earth's atmosphere now established with greenhouse gas. As the sun hibernates and cools down the earth's surface and humans pollute the air to keep it warm, hopefully the two will harmoniously balance out the climate.