Pandemics are great – as long as you’re reading a novel about scientists battling to save the human race, or perhaps playing the very popular board game in which players work together as various types of specialists to save the world.
We may be facing just such a scenario thanks to the effects of global warming, and it won’t be fun and games:
— Greenpeace USA (@greenpeaceusa) May 6, 2017
As the BBC reports, “Long-dormant bacteria and viruses, trapped in ice and permafrost for centuries, are reviving as Earth’s climate warms.”
Frozen permafrost soil is the perfect place for bacteria to remain alive for very long periods of time, perhaps as long as a million years. That means melting ice could potentially open a Pandora’s box of diseases.
Repeated pandemics contributed to the collapse of the Roman Empire. These including The Antonine Plague of 165–180 AD and the more famous Justinianic Plague of the sixth to eighth centuries which may have claimed as many as 100 million people.
The Black Death devastated Europe, killing perhaps two-thirds of the population, and the 1918 influenza pandemic (the Spanish flu virus) killed between 20 and 40 million people worldwide, more than were killed in the war itself.
Terrible as that pandemic was, it isn’t gone. Not really. Just frozen. And now thawing. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports they have found it living in mass graves in Alaska and as The New York Times reported as far back as 1998, in Norwegian permafrost too, just a few feet below the living.
Our immune systems aren’t familiar with these long-gone pathogens, say experts. You can imagine what that means.
What this tells us is that erratic weather, rising sea levels and poisoned air and water are not necessarily the most dangerous threats posed by the global warming the Trump administration has just decided doesn’t officially exist.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.