Regardless of whether you believe climate change is natural or caused by humans, it appears that a new, worldwide health crisis looms: as layers of permafrost get warmer, microbes that had been trapped in twenty-degree chunks of earth and water may come oozing to the surface. Already, a peculiar ear infection that eats holes through the eardrums of its hosts has struck children in a specific part of Greenland. One scientist, Jean-Michel Claverie, fears even more insidious possibilities, according to a recent piece in theatlantic.com: “‘No one really understands why Neanderthals went extinct,’ Claverie said. Sometimes, he catches himself when talking about these possible permafrost-locked diseases—they may have threatened humans or human relatives in the past, he’ll say. Then, he’ll change tense, emphasizing that they could do so again.”
In a way, then, it doesn’t matter where we lay the blame for climate change. What matters is having the political fortitude to try to do something about it.