Pestilence: Another Consequence of Losing the Cryosphere and the Permafrost

The Corona 19 virus has had an unprecedented effect on our complex, interlinked global economy. It is merely a forewarning of what we have unleashed as the cryosphere and the permafrost melts.
“For the past 15,000 years, a glacier on the north-western Tibetan Plateau of China has hosted a party for some unusual guests: an ensemble of frozen viruses, many of them unknown to modern science.”

“Scientists recently broke up this party after taking a look at two ice cores from this Tibetan glacier, revealing the existence of 28 never-before-seen virus groups.” Only two ice cores uncovered 28 new viruses.

Investigating these mysterious viruses could help scientists on two fronts: For one, these stowaways can teach researchers which viruses thrived in different climates and environments over time, the researchers wrote in a paper posted on the bioRxiv database on Jan. 7. Ancient never-before-seen viruses discovered locked up in Tibetan glacier

From an article in Popular Mechanix titled “Welp, Scientists Found 28 New Virus Groups in a Melting Glacier

  • “Scientists have unearthed 28 previously undiscovered viruses, which were trapped in glacial ice from 15,000 years ago.
  • The team collected the samples from the Guliya ice cap in Tibet, and published their work to the pre-print website, BioRxiv.
  • As glacial ice and permafrost around the world continues to thaw, scientists are concerned that ancient pathogens and toxic chemicals may be released into the environment.”

“When reindeer started dying in Siberia, at first scientists blamed the heat. But there seems to be a more insidious cause: Anthrax.”
“After an investigation, scientists have determined that the culprit is anthrax, which hasn’t been seen in the country since 1968. Scientists believe the source of the anthrax is an old reindeer carcass that was frozen during the last anthrax epidemic 75 years ago. The current heatwave thawed the carcass, allowing the dormant bacteria to spread.” Thawed Reindeer Corpse May Have Triggered Russian Anthrax Outbreak

“Mammoth bones are surfacing in the Russian Far East — so many that people have begun selling the tusks as a substitute for elephant ivory. And in 2016, more than 70 people in western Siberia were hospitalized for exposure to anthrax, likely spread from a decades-old reindeer carcass that thawed from frozen ground.”
Thawing Permafrost: “25% of the Northern Hemisphere is permafrost”

Ignorance is our enemy

“In my darkest moments, I see a really horrible future for Homo sapiens because we are an animal, and when we extend our borders things will happen to us,” said Birgitta Evengard, a researcher in clinical microbiology at Umea University in Sweden.”
“Our biggest enemy is our own ignorance,” she added. “Nature is full of microorganisms.”
“Microorganisms can survive in frozen space for a long, long time,” said Vladimir Romanovsky, a professor of geophysics at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks.

Climate change may bring back viruses that were long thought to be dormant

“There is zero guarantee that this set of living arrangements will hold together much longer considering the threats we know it is under with the next ‘Black Swan’ hovering in the wings about to appear.” This is the End, Beautiful Friends, The End

So much to look forward to, so little time. Brace for imminent impact. These are the ‘Good Old Days’, they certainly aren’t going to get better. Every single last analogue is heading in the wrong direction and our predicament can only be worse than we know.
“The Path of Increase is Slow but the Road to Ruin is Swift” Lucius Seneca

 “Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” Dylan Thomas.

I'm an anti-imperialist, environmental activist and blue ocean sailor, who is passionate about the earth and all it's inhabitants without favour. Brace for imminent impact as we bare witness to the non-linear unraveling of the biosphere and habitability disappearing for most if not all complex life on the only habitable planet we know of. To quote President Niinistö in North Russia: ‘If We Lose the Arctic, We Lose the World’. Folks we have lost the Arctic.

Posted in Arctic, permafrost, Pestilence, Viruses
35 comments on “Pestilence: Another Consequence of Losing the Cryosphere and the Permafrost
  1. Kevin Hester says:

    “Human activity is greatly contributing to the emergence of new diseases and scientific advances will not alone be able to stop them, warned Anthony Fauci and epidemiologist David Morens.”

    “The emergence of potentially deadly viruses, like SARS in 2002 from a civet cat, MERS in 2012 from a camel, and now Covid-19, is likely to continue.”


  2. Kevin Hester says:

    “Also known as Triple E, the virus is one of the deadliest mosquito-borne diseases in the United States, with a 33% fatality rate in people who become ill. It leaves many survivors with physical and mental disabilities.”


  3. Kevin Hester says:

    “According to a “parasite stress” hypothesis, authoritarian governments are more likely to emerge in regions characterized by a high prevalence of disease-causing pathogens. Recent cross-national evidence is consistent with this hypothesis, but there are inferential limitations associated with that evidence. We report two studies that address some of these limitations, and provide further tests of the hypothesis. Study 1 revealed that parasite prevalence strongly predicted cross-national differences on measures assessing individuals’ authoritarian personalities, and this effect statistically mediated the relationship between parasite prevalence and authoritarian governance. The mediation result is inconsistent with an alternative explanation for previous findings. To address further limitations associated with cross-national comparisons, Study 2 tested the parasite stress hypothesis on a sample of traditional small-scale societies (the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample). Results revealed that parasite prevalence predicted measures of authoritarian governance, and did so even when statistically controlling for other threats to human welfare. (One additional threat—famine—also uniquely predicted authoritarianism.) Together, these results further substantiate the parasite stress hypothesis of authoritarianism, and suggest that societal differences in authoritarian governance result, in part, from cultural differences in individuals’ authoritarian personalities.”


  4. Kevin Hester says:

    “In a 2011 study, Boris Revich and Marina Podolnaya wrote: “As a consequence of permafrost melting, the vectors of deadly infections of the 18th and 19th Centuries may come back, especially near the cemeteries where the victims of these infections were buried.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • laurierieman says:

      Excellent information , and fully relevant to the changes Earth’s warming bestows upon life’s fragility.


  5. Kevin Hester says:

    Climate change may be aiding a deadly fungus in infecting humans
    The number of cases of fungal infections has increased around the world

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Kevin Hester says:

    World must be ready for the next pandemic, UN says on first International Day of Epidemic Preparedness

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Kevin Hester says:

    “A recent outbreak of anthrax disease, severely affecting reindeer herds in Siberia, has been reportedly associated to the presence of infected carcasses or spores released from the active layer over permafrost, which is thawing and thickening at increasing rates, thus underlying the re-emerging nature of this pathogen in the Arctic region because of warming temperatures. Anthrax is a global zoonotic and epizootic disease, with a high case-fatality ratio in infected animals. Its transmission is mediated by environmental contamination through highly resistant spores which can persist in the soil for several decades. Here we develop and analyze a new epidemiological model for anthrax transmission that is specifically tailored to the Arctic environmental conditions”.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Kevin Hester says:

    Still, there is understandable concern about certain hardy microbes like anthrax that can be released from thawing permafrost, he said. “It’s probably very resistant to the freeze-thaw cycle,” he said of anthrax.


  9. Kevin Hester says:

    Prime Minister Helen Clark was a personal friend of my parents, I’ve met her a number of times.

    “Former Prime Minister Helen Clark on panel calling for pandemic preparedness reform”


  10. Kevin Hester says:

    “Some methane beneath glaciers is consumed by bacteria called methanotrophs (methane eaters) which generate energy by converting it to carbon dioxide.”
    Who had methanotrophs (methane eaters) as the June bug?
    We are just about to meet a whole lot of new bacteria.


  11. Kevin Hester says:

    “Researchers from Russia’s Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems have discovered a microscopic arctic animal who has been asleep for 24,000 years in the permafrost of Siberia and has just woken up.”


  12. Kevin Hester says:

    Mysterious Bird-Killing Illness Spreads to More Mid-Atlantic States
    Researchers rule out several pathogens but still don’t know what is causing the deaths.


  13. Kevin Hester says:

    “A group of scientists discovered ancient viruses frozen in two ice samples taken from the Tibetan Plateau in China, and most of them are unlike anything ever seen before.

    The findings, published Wednesday in the journal Microbiome, came from ice cores taken in 2015 that scientists said began to freeze at least 14,400 years ago.”


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Kevin Hester

Kevin Hester is currently living on Rakino Island, a small island in the Hauraki Gulf near Auckland, New Zealand, monitoring the unravelling of the biosphere and volunteering at the Rakino Island Nursery is currently developing a proposal to create a marine reserve near by. The Island has no grid tied electricity or reticulated water.  I catch my own water from the roof and generate my electricity from the ample solar radiation on the island.

My Submission to the Ministry of the Environment
Kevin Hester, Dropping Anchor in an Exponential World
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