Nov 15, 2021
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Will global warming lead to a new pandemic?

Will global warming lead to a new pandemic?

According to the WHO forecast, climate change, which we have all observed this abnormally hot summer, will cause an additional 250 thousand deaths per year between 2030 and 2050.

At the same time, 38 thousand people will die due to excessive exposure to heat, 48 thousand – due to diarrhea, 60 thousand – due to malaria and 95 thousand – due to malnutrition, since droughts, floods and other natural disasters increase the risk of crop failure and hunger in many parts of the world. However, there is another potential danger – viruses that fell asleep in the ice many thousands of years ago, and modern people are not ready to face them.


On earth, there is a constant struggle between the two dominant species of living beings on the planet: humanity and viruses.

We already know what one mutated or artificially created (there are different versions) coronavirus has done.

All over the world, due to an increase in the average temperature on the planet, glaciers are melting. Anyone who has been to Dombai, Elbrus in recent years in the summer, could see this with their own eyes. It can be seen how much the line of eternal ice and snow has moved to the peaks. The rocks were exposed. Local old-timers say that they will not remember this. This is a dangerous trend: mountain rivers and lakes can dry up, because they all feed from glaciers. And then people will be forced to leave the North Caucasus: how can we live without water?

According to the WHO forecast, 500 million people on earth will suffer from the lack of fresh water by 2050. The drought will also affect the southern regions of Russia.

At the current pace of climate change, Moscow will soon have a climate similar to that of Rostov-on-Don, and southern regions, such as the Volgograd region, are predicted to become a desert, where for five sultry “summer” months people will be able to exist only in air-conditioned rooms. Such a forecast was made recently by climatologist Anatoly Sudakov.

But the danger of global warming is not only in the imminent appearance of hundreds of millions of climate refugees. The UN fears that mass migration will inevitably lead to clashes of interests and wars.


The danger also lies in ancient viruses and microorganism spores frozen in the ice.

In recent years, the glacial mass of Greenland has been decreasing by 100 billion tons annually. Permafrost in the north of Russia is also beginning to melt.

In 2016, in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug (Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug) in the summer in the permafrost, a cattle burial ground with anthrax spores was thawed – a 12-year-old boy died from an infection that woke up 75 years later, 96 people were hospitalized, more than 2.3 thousand reindeer died.

And shortly thereafter, a group of scientists from France and Russia discovered a new type of giant virus in the permafrost in Siberia, which was given the name Mollivirus sibericum. It is so large that it can be seen through a regular microscope, like a bacterium. According to scientists, the virus slept in the permafrost for more than 30 thousand years.

Laboratory studies have shown that after 30 thousand years of sleep, the thawed virus began to lead an active life: it hunts for amoebas, pretending to be the bacteria that these microorganisms feed on. Having swallowed the virus, the amoeba becomes a kind of laboratory for its reproduction.

“This is the first time we see a virus that remains contagious after so many years,” said Professor Jean-Marie Claverie of the French National Center for Scientific Research at the time.

We were lucky: this virus did not switch from amoebas to humans. At least for now. At first, the coronavirus was also only in the bat.

In the permafrost of Siberia and the northern regions of Russia, the corpses of animals that died during epidemics tens and hundreds of years ago, old cemeteries are mothballed. The same Professor Claverie expressed concern that smallpox, which until now was considered defeated, actually disappeared only from the surface of the earth, but still remained in the ice or in the frozen ground. And this is a deadly virus that mowed down entire cities.


American scientists, examining ice samples taken seven years ago in the Gulia Glacier in Western Tibet, found 33 viruses that date back to the Pleistocene era. Of these, 28 viruses were not previously known to science. Microbiologists say that some of these viruses froze in the ice of Tibet more than 15 thousand years ago.

Having examined these viruses in the laboratory, scientists found that some of them were also able to survive in extreme conditions. Having woken up from the ice captivity, the hungry viruses immediately began to hunt and multiply.

Professor Jonathan Ball of the University of Nottingham spoke to the media about the amazing survivability of new viruses found in ice and in extreme conditions of the planet: “However, it is still not clear whether all viruses can become active after thousands or even millions of years of freezing. This is the million dollar question. “

Olga Poplavskaya.


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