I'm not a scientist. I can't claim to effectively judge any major theory as to the causes of the Little Ice Age. But I know very well which one the documentary makers want me to favor.
Talking heads proposed various ideas. It could have been that half a percentage drop in radiation from the sun that was the culprit. It may have been the increased number of volcanoes which erupted during the period.
It might be a natural cycle, which just happens.
Perhaps not coincidentally, the Maunder Minimum dates are perfectly aligned to the worst period of the Little Ice Age.
The point was repeatedly made that the scientific community haven't yet got the definitive answer, but they're working on it.
However, there was one theory which wasn't just a talking head. The thermohaline circulation explanation was repeated three times, each with a computerized graphic to explain it all to laymen viewers. Naturally, it's the one which lodged most firmly in my mind.
Also known as the oceanic conveyor belt, this is a naturally occurring phenomenon whereby sea water warmed in the tropics moves north. As it reaches the Arctic, it cools and the current pushes further into the depths. The stream is then conveyed back down into the tropics, where it warms, rises and goes back to the Arctic.
The Gulf Stream is just a tiny part of this massive cycle. It's what keeps North America and Western Europe from freezing like Siberia.
The theory here is that the Warm Period, right before the Little Ice Age, had melted glaciers so much that fresh water had flooded the stream. Unable to properly cool, the conveyor belt was interrupted. A chain reaction kicked off stopping warm water reaching the north, hence everything got colder.
This was then linked with modern global warming and 'the so-called Greenhouse Effect'. It was stated that the Industrial Revolution, with all its burning of fossil fuels, is what stopped the Little Ice Age.
I'm no scientist, but a documentary which informs me that global warming is good sounds suspiciously misleading. The whole thing played out with a catastrophic dramatization of what would happen if we didn't keep on burning fossil fuels.
The Little Ice Age would be back with a vengeance. Europe would dissolve into anarchy and wars over ownership of its oil. (What oil? Apart from the North Sea, and some in Scandinavia and Russia, I'm struggling here.) Everyone in South America would rush to be in the United States (but wouldn't it be warmer where they came from?).
China would have a civil war, then attack Saudi Arabia after its oil. India and Pakistan would also join in. The USA, China and Pakistan would be forced to use nuclear weapons on each other; and the world would end.
So keep on burning fossil fuels, boys and girls! Global warming (if it's happening) is good and we don't want all of the above, do we now?
By the closing credits, I'd finally lost faith in the scientific and sociological information too. While all present and correct, it was definitely biased towards certain viewpoints, which felt finally divorced from reality as I understand it.