No, it’s not a Steven Spielberg or another Mel Brooks movie!
Besides the wildfires, floods and hurricanes, which have become our terrifying new normal thanks to the onslaught of climate change, comes a possible new prehistoric threat.
It’s a zombie virus recently revived by scientists who’d better know what the heck they are doing.
Last thing we want is it having it escape or leak from a lab like the one causing Covid 19 allegedly did in Wuhan China.
So, are we now dealing with the potentially microscopic cells of a new monster Frankenstein. Will curiosity kill the cat? Are Spielberg and 96-year-old Brooks planning zombie virus movies?
On a serious side, facing the most extreme and deadly consequences of climate change are the three quarters of a billion children currently living in countries at the highest risk of suffering the impact of the climate crisis. Today, every child will inherit a planet with more frequent extreme weather events than ever before.
Thawing the frozen layer of soil beneath the ground called permafrost are the warmer temperatures in the Arctic, potentially stirring viruses that for tens of thousands of years have laid dormant. Now released, could they endanger animal and human health? Will they kill the curious cat?
They say a fifth of the Northern Hemisphere is covered by this gargantuan permafrost underpinning the Arctic tundra and boreal forests of Alaska, Canada and our not-so-friendly Russia.
This permafrost is a kind of time capsule preserving not only ancient viruses, but the mummified remains of a few extinct animals that scientists have been able to unearth and study in recent years, including two cave lion cubs and a woolly rhino.
We’re finding permafrost is an excellent storage medium not just because it’s cold but an oxygen-free environment that light can’t penetrate. Still, arctic temperatures are warming up many times faster than the rest of the planet.
Investigating the risks posed by frozen viruses, scientists are testing samples taken from Siberian permafrost to determine if any viral particles can still be infectious. And one has found one, called “zombie viruses.”
Please don’t bring any to where I live in Boca Raton, thank you.
Scientists say it’s unclear as to how these microbes are going to interact with the modern environment and one even said: “It’s not really an experiment that I think any of us want to run.”
The best course of action, she said, is to try and halt the thaw, and the wider climate crisis, and keep these hazards where they belong, entombed in the permafrost for good.
To save as many species as possible, including ourselves, “what’s needed may be radical action such as blocking the sunshine on Antarctica, or the North Pole,” said Peter Ticktin, founder of The Global Warming Foundation and senior partner of The Ticktin Law Group, P.A.
Tom Madden is no scientist, just a Wordshine Man, the title of his latest book. When not writing books, blogs and articles, he’s helping clients of his PR firm, TransMedia Group, to become “entombed in a permafrost of publicity.”