FORGOTTEN GERMS AND CLIMATE CHANGES
“An asteroid could hit us at any moment. This is not-and also the most successful kind of life on this planet is not us, its microbes. They are the ones who greatly outnumber us, and may eventually destroy us.”
The science will never give up fighting back the invisible and dangerous world of microbes. This is not just a battle but a never-ending war. At the moment when the humankind believes it is all ended and that we are the winners with some of the perfect medical solutions, the tiny particle of chaos proves us wrong. Our two worlds will be never in peace.
The bacteria and virus have been always on the top of the stealth bio system. Since the early ages of civilization, they have colored our existence with pain, tears and death. Some of the worst and scariest diseases that ripped the big part of the population in history came out from the microorganisms that are now considered as simple and old-fashioned. Just to mention leprosy and plague and not to forget the famous Spanish flu. When Alexander Fleming discovered a penicillin, we have thought that bacteria will definitely give up on trying to reach and conquer us. Unfortunately, it is almost a century that we are given the powerful molecular weapon against microbes but we are not still progressed in the battlefield. The bacteria are always one-step further, developing perfect resistance each time we think we made it. Now we are talking about generations of antibiotics resistible microbes that are hunting people. The viruses are even more complicated in spite of fact they are so primitive organized forms of life. Antibiotics cannot stop their appetite for hosts and available cures and vaccines cannot cover all families of these organic destroyers. All we have in our hands is endless hope that they will get tired of hunting us and that they will be somehow gone or eaten up by Stephen King’s LANGOLIERS.
The worst scenario ever, beside dangerous microorganism escaping from biohazard laboratory or being abused as biological weapon is dealing with awakening of old and forgotten germs that are ready to attack. The climate changes do not affect only our environmental habits and pulse but also our health perspective. The research studies that made scientists of the BBC Earth bring the real concern and it elaborates the possibilities of releasing the ancient viruses and bacteria from the melted permafrost soils: ”As the Earth warms, more permafrost will melt. Under normal circumstances, superficial permafrost layers about 50cm deep melt every summer. But now global warming is gradually exposing older permafrost layers. 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.”
The scientists have warned for years that the climate changes have so many malign impacts overall but in recent time, epidemiologists and climatologists scream about the difficult situation in the Arctic Circle where the temperature is rising so quickly, three times faster as in the rest of the world. That could unleash the microbes from ice and let them bite the human and animal population. The evolutionary biologist Jean-Michael Claverie at Aix-Marseille University in France stated:” Permafrost is a very good preserver of microbes and viruses, because it is cold, there is no oxygen, and it is dark. Pathogenic viruses that can infect humans or animals might be preserved in old permafrost layers, including some that have caused global epidemics in the past.”
Based on the medical evidences, at the beginning of 20th century, more than a million reindeer died from anthrax and they have been buried very close to the surface in northern Russia. The spectacular case of 12-year-old boy that died from the infection of anthrax in 2016, in the area of Yamal Peninsula in the Arctic Circle confirms that the microbes has been brought to life after the frozen carcass had been melted during the terrible heat. The main question is not if the frozen germs will be melted but when and how that will hit our reality?
The victims of Spanish flu, Smallpox and bubonic plague are all buried in Alaska’s tundra or Siberia and with the acceleration of climate changes; it could be very soon that we experience the renaissance of some of the worst diseases ever. It is enough scary to imagine that Smallpox virus is back. The half of the world’s population is not resistible at all since the immunization is not anymore recommended. The virus was wiped out in the late 1970s and only Russian and American biohazard laboratories keep samples for advanced medical research. Nevertheless, the virus is still on the Earth, at least its DNA. The researchers from the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology in Novosibirsk have tested the discovered remains of the people from Stone Age in southern Siberia, area of Gorny Altai. They have also studied the samples from the men who died during the Smallpox epidemics in the 19th century. The both cases have the presence of DNA fragments of sinister Smallpox virus. What does it actually mean? The virus could survive in all conditions since it obtain the phase of hibernation, waiting for a right moment to get alive.
The bacteria Carnobacterium pleistocenium has been frozen for more than 32,000 years and in 2005, NASA experts revived it successfully in Alaska. In Antarctica, an 8-million-year-old bacterium has been revived too with no problem related to the period of inactivity.
The special kinds of bacteria that rely on their own protecting spores can always defeat the long period of passive existence. The fungi and some viruses can also remain active within their inactive behavior. Pithovirus sibericum and Mollivirus sibericum are both giant viruses that have been brought to life by scientists that have studied the natural resistance of the awakened microbes. Many of them are very strong even if they arent harmful for the people. They had to develop the concept of survival and to fight to exist, so far away from light, warmth and positive microbe habitat. Stuck in the darkness of some caves or frozen for centuries, the germs generated specific methods of ultimate survival. In the hard competitive environments, the microbes are trying to win in the game of life and death. They have so many rivals and some of them attack microbes with the natural antibiotics weapon. Alexander Fleming did not really invent the cure as he observed the natural war between competitors in petri dish. The bacteria simply did not manage to escape from dangerous antibiotic-excreting mold and that was a highlight for a humankind. The penicillin has been born but the joy was not promised. The microbes have found a way to survive between the cracks of logic, shaping their future of revenge.
The horrible picture of the frozen areas that are melting due to the climate mutations is enough disturbing. If we add to it the epidemic risks and challenges, it is almost an urgent need to implement counter climate changes policy and effective strategies. The microbes have never been stronger as they are now and it is to be expected that many of them will find their way to hosts and open the hunting season. Some of them, like Smallpox virus, have a potential to cause the new biological apocalypse and some could be totally unknown and new to us, sent from hell of the Earth organic genesis. It will be a ruthless war and it is obvious that stealth armies will be winners if we do not stop our collective invasion on nature, our demolition of Earth and our ignorance related to the climate transformation. We have to accept responsibility or to deal with the awareness that our end is coming.