As climate change continues to worsen, many are aware of some of its most common effects on the planet. However, while sea level rises and a polluted atmosphere is bad enough, global warming may have a disastrous side effect: the release of ancient viruses.
As the ice caps continue to melt, scientists are warning that the planet's warmth will release a plague of issues for humanity. Essentially, global warming will be the equivalent of opening Pandora’s Box.
Global Warming will open Pandora’s Box
The Arctic regions of our planet are covered in a layer of permafrost, but what is permafrost? Permafrost is ground that has remained frozen for a minimum of two years straight. In Russia, around 60% of the country is covered in permafrost; Siberia holds the record for the oldest known permafrost with a 650,000 year record.
However, as global warming worsens, the planet’s frost layers are melting, and what's underneath is just as scary as all of climate change’s other issues. With animal corpses dating back millions of years unthawing, bacteria from before the time of modern homo sapiens will come back with a vengeance.
What diseases are hidden in the permafrost?
We don't currently what diseases are hidden within all of The Earth’s permafrost. Millions upon millions of uncatalogued bacteria exist inside the corpses and minerals protected by the frozen ground. However, we do know some diseases that exist underneath.
For example, via Greenpeace, melted permafrost has already revealed living anthrax and pox viruses. The former of these has already caused issues. Back in 2016, thawed frost in Russia caused an anthrax outbreak that resulted in the death of a child.
However, other than that, the diseases that hide under the Earth have been described as “Pandora's Box”. Early diseases preserved by the cold are a minimum of 12,000 years old, dating back to the last Ice Age. However, some deadly bacteria is far, far older than that.
Climate change to leads to more climate change
Unfortunately, diseases are not the only with the increasing threat of global warming. While the thawing permafrost will release terrifying diseases, it will also released trapped reserves of methane and carbon dioxide.
Methane is one of the strongest gasses contributing to global warming, being far more potent than CO². As more methane floods our atmosphere, more permafrost thaws, releasing even more methane.
This is the cycle of global warming; climate change will only result in more climate change. At some point, we will pass a point of no return where The Earth itself will be trapped in a cycle of polluting itself.
Additionally, this is already happening at an alarming rate, and it’s not something that any one person can fix. Instead, it's up to massive corporations, livestock factories and governments to make sure that the planet is operating effectively. Will they though? (No.)