I Wish This Were Sci-Fi

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.

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19 Responses to I Wish This Were Sci-Fi

  1. Kaelon McNeece says:

    If the claims that ancient microbes are reemerging as a threat to the human population are true, then something must be done. The cause of global warming ceases to be a relevant point of debate as public concern shifts to human survival. With nearly 200 state signatures on the Paris Agreement, it is prevalent that many nations already view climate change as a serious threat. Cooperation among these nations is vital to putting up any kind of fight against a threat as potentially deadly as this. This type of political fortitude is ideal but probably not realistic. Fortunately, if faced with the prospect of otherwise impending doom (worst-case scenario) I believe that many countries will seek to unite with one another to fight these microbes with the power of modern science.

  2. Dev Jaiswal says:

    In my personal experiences visiting the country of India with my family, I noticed the profound effect we humans are having on our environment. No EPA exists in India like it does in America. Littering is rampant, dust and dirt fly in swirls, weather forecasts often read “haze,” cars emit thick black exhaust fumes, factory plumes can be seen from miles away, and sunsets are dark crimson red due to the last fleeting rays reflecting off the descending clouds of pollution as night falls. I do believe that this sort of gross disregard for the environment contributes to rising global temperatures, which could lead to rising ocean levels and the release of dangerous disease-bearing microbes long buried in permafrost. I think that countries should band together to regulate environmental quality throughout all nations, so that global warming and its effects (some of which are unbeknownst to us) may be somewhat in our control.

  3. Aidan Warren says:

    This isn’t the first incident of warming releasing dangerous diseases. Just last year in Russia, an anthrax outbreak, supposedly caused by a heat wave melting permafrost containing the corpse of an anthrax-infected reindeer, hospitalized dozens of people and killed one child according to NPR.(https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2016/08/03/488400947/anthrax-outbreak-in-russia-thought-to-be-result-of-thawing-permafrost)
    The issue now is how to stop the warming, or how to respond to diseases that have been buried for potentially hundreds if not thousands of years. Though the pushback against climate change regulations is real, there are reasons to be optimistic about the potential to reduce the human impact on climate. Remember how when we were kids there was a lot of concern over holes growing in the ozone layer leading to higher global temperatures and possibly skin cancer? Well, due to successful international bans on certain chemicals like freon, the hole has been steadily shrinking and is now at its smallest size since 1988 (https://weather.com/science/environment/news/2017-11-03-ozone-layer-hole-nasa). But, with the current administration having a stated aversion to any actions that might help the environment at the cost of business, such effective legislative action to counter climate change might not appear for at least another 3 years.

  4. Alex Jones says:

    So, new diseases are going to surface. This is something that would have happened anyway, even if climate change were to not happen. This is a good thing. Human population is too high, so this is a way to keep it under control, and not waste all of our natural resources. According to scientists, our natural resources will run out in the next 100 years if we have to keep sustaining our current and increasing population. I think this new disease thing is a good thing, and the population should decrease significantly.

  5. Zion Hargro says:

    Climate change is the melting of permafrost soils that have been solid for thousands of years. As the soils melt, they have the potential to release ancient viruses and bacteria that are harmful to humans animals, and possibly plants. These viruses are extremely larger than today’s viruses, making them more harmful. People seem to think that global warming is not really a big deal when it really is greater than we think. Climate change in the past 50 years has caused an increase in forest fires, hurricanes, heat waves, and recently the coming back to life of ancient deadly diseases; all of these has resulted in death. Global warming shows no sign of decreasing drastically, but there are a few things we can do to limit the rate of climate change.


  6. Jacob Lee says:

    This is one repercussion of climate change I had never considered. At this point, with all of the evidence and possible, even probable, effects of climate change it baffles me that there is still reluctance to make change. There are a multitude of steps that could be taken to at least lessen the adverse effects of climate change, however it seems as if America is doing quite the opposite. I think this goes back to our reliance on unclean energy sources and the cost of transitioning from what we have now to clean sources. Change can be scary, even dangerous, but when the potentiality of disaster is so high is it not worth taking the risk?

  7. Indu Nandula says:

    Flesh-eating microbes and climate change are only the beginning of our domestic worries. Living in the United States, for us, can be considered a blessing, for we have services and associations that other second and third world countries don’t: the Center for Disease Control/Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency. Echoing the sentiments of Dev’s post, I have been to India myself, and I can personally say that the situation is quite severe. Children trudge through dirt filled streets, malnutritioned, begging for food, water, and/or money. Trash piles adorn the sides of streets, where hungry canines sift through mounds of detritus and trash in search of food. Trees are a rarity, and so is the sun. Plumes of gray smoke from factories curl and swirl in front of the yellow orb that gives us life. Not all parts of the country are like this, but one is enough. But how are these problems fixed? “Where there is a will, there is a way,” they say. These issues can only be brought to light if the people use their will to bring awareness to leaders, and eventually the world.

  8. Taylor Shamblin says:

    These microbes are only the beginning when it comes to global warming. After using so many fossil fuels and selfishly emitting carbon dioxide for hundreds of years, our atmosphere is starting to fill up. The extreme presence of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is the main cause of this fluctuation of temperature we call “Global Warming”. As Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure.”
    Research has proven this saying doesn’t quite relate to global warming. In a research writing class at Delta State University, the topic of “Stop Emissions Now,” was brought up. If we were to end all carbon emissions right now, would it change the world for the better? Would we have the atmosphere our ancestors had? The realistic answer is, absolutely not. Even if we stop all emissions, the carbon will still be ever present in our atmosphere. According to theconversation.com, we will have the carbon emissions in our atmosphere for millennia if it is not directly removed by us.
    This is the first step in the right direction. Gaining the eyes of all nations and raising a flag to the emissions we are filling our atmosphere with. Once emissions have slowed or proper actions are being taken against them, our eyes then need to be turned to the atmosphere. We need to find ways to scrub clean the dangerously high carbon levels. Once this is accomplished, we will be able to look at the same star-filled sky once seen by our ancestors millions of years ago.

  9. Elle Smith says:

    I, personally, believe that climate change is an immense, destructive, and very pressing matter. However, I am notoriously also pro-population control. Disasters tend to come when they are due in the natural progression of the world. I think that, possibly, this is the world’s way of saying that humans have screwed up a bit too much! We are currently overpopulating the Earth and thus are causing it great damage. While it is debatable if climate change is naturally occurring or synthetic, it is undeniable that mankind has catalyzed this global catastrophe. Perhaps this is just Mother Nature’s defense mechanism. Maybe the release of such microbes is happenstance or an act of God. Regardless of the cause of global warming or the release of lethal particles, it is a vital problem to this and future generations and our political leaders must act as thus.

  10. Richie Andersen says:

    As flesh-eating microbes may sound threatening, there are a few other problems caused by are warmer-than-usual climate that could use the attention. If extinction is the main concern of these new and unusual bacteria, I would like to point out that the threat of human extinction is much less likely than of the time of the Neanderthals in light of our advancements made in medicine. I am not dismissing this as an issue, but I merely want to address that maybe the current disrepair of the ozone layer(due to an also increasing temperature of the atmosphere) might pose more of a threat, as current science does not know how to manually repair it, and requires time on its own to heal. As televisional Sci-Fi would dictate, humans will find a way to “Live long and prosper” through any crisis that might occur.

  11. Theresa Ho says:

    The fact that global warming is causing these flesh eating microbes is eye-catching. I do agree that something has to be done about it, but I honestly don’t think it’ll do any good because global warming is going to happen no matter what. There are strictly too many people populating the earth and not only that, we are too dependent on natural resources. Even if we all band together to try to limit the use of natural resources and “slow down” or “stop” global warming, the damage is already done and there is no way to reverse it. Sure, we could stop doing things that damage the ozone layer, but even that would not be enough because of how dependent we are of them.

  12. Sawyer Neal says:

    If there is anything that I have learned, it is that humans really know how to mess things up. We are slowly destroying our planet through pollution and global warming, and we are close to destroying it rapidly through nuclear warfare. Maybe this will become sci-fi, and the aliens will come to take out the human race and have control over the Earth. They can probably lead this place better than we can.

  13. Climate change has become a pressing matter within the last few decades. It has been blamed on aerosols from hair sprays to the burning and use of fossil fuels to create power and heat. At Rice University, a seminar on global warming was created to bring awareness to the pressing issue. The speakers, Dr. Willie Soon and Professor Ronald Sass, presented an in-depth look into the causes and possible effects that could occur as a result of this global phenomenon. The fallibility of humans and the effect on the environment was observed. The bacteria that eats the ear drums of children is another pressing matter that could be solved by continuing to heal our planet.

  14. Sophia Pepper says:

    Consistent disregard for the environment and what our actions could mean for the future of our planet will result in more and more occurrences of things like this happening.

  15. Efingie says:

    There have been many instances about microbes entering the atmosphere through melting permafrost. For example, in 2016, in the Siberian tundra in the Arctic Circle, a 12 year old boy died and at least twenty people were hospitalized after being infected with anthrax. The theory is that a reindeer infected with anthrax died and its frozen carcass became trapped under a layer of frozen soil. Essentially, the carcass stayed there until the heatwave in the summer of 2016, when the permafrost thawed. The anthrax infected nearby water, soil, and food supply, and 2000 reindeer grazing nearby also became infected.

    In fact, the temperature in the Arctic Circle is rising quickly, about three times faster than the rest of the world. Evolutionary biologist Jean Michel Claverie states that “permafrost is a very good preserver of microbes and viruses because it is cold, there is no oxygen, and it is dark.”

    Scientists have discovered fragments of RNA from the 1918 Spanish flu virus in corpses buried in mass graves in Alaska’s tundra. Global warming also increases rates of reproduction of mosquitoes, which carry many diseases as well. Thus, they would become much more efficient at spreading disease as well.

    The main barrier to garnering support for renewable energy and decreasing emissions is that global warming does not directly affect many people yet. The countries that do heavily invest in renewable technology are generally the countries where people have already suffered through some consequences of human pollution. For example, China is one of the heaviest investors in solar energy, likely because many residents in urban areas suffer through severe levels of smog. However, in order to progress as a society, we must look into the future and realize that our actions now are affecting future generations and that we must start holding ourselves accountable for the damage we have inflicted upon the environment.

  16. Sophia Garcia says:

    I feel that us, as people should really take the time to discuss the proper way to battle global warming. We do not have any more options, at the moment, other than living on this Earth. We should come together to make sure that we are making the necessary steps to protect and preserve our damaged home.

  17. Jessikah Morton says:

    Climate change has been an issue for a while and the government still has yet to do something about it despite science. I believe eventually the government will chime in but it’d probably be too late once they decide on what to do. Is climate change fixxable is also something that has to be worried about as well because the answer might not be as simple as we think. Maybe that’s why the government hasn’t done anything about this issue yet.

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