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Mon Apr 13, 2020, 08:35 AM

COVID Not Directly Climate-Related, But Other Diseases Can/Will Expand Or Be Triggered By Warming

EDIT

COVID-19 is one such hazard we believed, until a few weeks ago, we were mostly invulnerable to. In the future, we may have to reckon also with diseases we believed we already defeated, since in addition to bringing about pandemics of the future, global warming will revive plagues of the past. There are now, trapped in Arctic ice, diseases that have not circulated in the air for millions of years — in some cases, since before humans were around to encounter them. Which means our immune systems would have no idea how to fight back when those prehistoric plagues emerge from the ice. Already, in laboratories, several microbes have been reanimated: a 32,000-year-old “extremophile” bacteria revived in 2005, an 8-million-year-old bug brought back to life in 2007, a 3.5-million-year-old one a Russian scientist self-injected, out of curiosity, just to see what would happen. (He survived.) In 2018, scientists revived something a bit bigger — a worm that had been frozen in permafrost for the last 42,000 years.

The Arctic also stores terrifying diseases from more recent times. In Alaska, researchers have discovered remnants of the 1918 flu that infected as many as 500 million, and killed as many as 50 million — about 3 percent of the world’s population, and more had died in the world war for which the pandemic served as a kind of gruesome capstone. Scientists suspect smallpox is trapped in Siberian ice, among many other diseases that have otherwise passed into human legend — an abridged history of devastating sickness, left out like egg salad in the Arctic sun. Many of these frozen organisms won’t actually survive the thaw; those that have been brought back to life have been reanimated typically under fastidious lab conditions. But in 2016, a boy was killed and 20 others infected by anthrax released when retreating permafrost exposed the frozen carcass of a reindeer killed by the bacteria at least 75 years earlier; more than 2,000 present-day reindeer died.

EDIT

Overwhelmingly, of course, the viruses and bacteria making homes inside us are nonthreatening to humans — at present. Presumably, a difference of a degree or two in global temperature won’t dramatically change the behavior of the majority of them — probably the vast majority, even the overwhelming majority. But consider the case of the saiga — the adorable dwarflike antelope, native to Central Asia. In May 2015, nearly two-thirds of the global population died in the span of just days — every single saiga in an area the size of Florida, the land suddenly dotted with hundreds of thousands of saiga carcasses and not one lone survivor. An event like this is called a “megadeath,” this one so striking and cinematic that it gave rise, immediately, to a whole raft of conspiracy theories: aliens, radiation, dumped rocket fuel. But no toxins were found by researchers poking through the killing fields — in the animals themselves, in the soil, in the local plants. The culprit, it turned out, was a simple bacteria, Pasteurella multocida, which had lived inside the saiga’s tonsils, without threatening its host in any way, for many, many generations. Suddenly, it had proliferated, emigrated to the bloodstream, and from there to the animals’ liver, kidneys, and spleen. Why? “The places where the saigas died in May 2015 were extremely warm and humid,” Ed Yong wrote in The Atlantic. “In fact, humidity levels were the highest ever seen in the region since records began in 1948. The same pattern held for two earlier, and much smaller, die-offs from 1981 and 1988. When the temperature gets really hot, and the air gets really wet, saiga die. Climate is the trigger, Pasteurella is the bullet.”

This is not to say we now understand what precisely about humidity weaponized Pasteurella, or how many of the other bacteria living inside mammals like us — the one percent we have identified, or perhaps more worryingly the 99 percent we house without any knowledge or understanding — might be similarly triggered by climate, friendly symbiotic bugs with whom we’ve lived in some cases for millions of years transformed suddenly into contagions already inside us. That remains a mystery. But ignorance is no comfort. Presumably climate change will introduce us to some of them.

EDIT/END

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/04/the-coronavirus-is-a-preview-of-our-climate-change-future.html

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Reply COVID Not Directly Climate-Related, But Other Diseases Can/Will Expand Or Be Triggered By Warming (Original post)
hatrack Apr 2020 OP
LunaSea Apr 2020 #1
cyclonefence Apr 2020 #2

Response to hatrack (Original post)

Mon Apr 13, 2020, 09:21 AM

1. We need not wait for polar thaw.

Fracking is bringing all sorts of interesting and ancient critters to the surface.
In addition, biocides employed to keep the fracking pipes clear may be contributing
to antibiotic resistance.

https://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/2018/10/16/ut-study-how-does-fracking-affect-east-tennessees-water-supply/1646383002/
Teams are also sequencing bacteria found in streams near fracking sites, to find out how they become resistant to antibiotics. Teams are also finding extremophile bacteria which have been pulled out from deep underground by fracking sites. These bacteria are used to the extreme heat and pressure typical of being miles underground.

"We don't even call them bacteria," Hazen said. "We call them archaea, noting that they're from ancient times."

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Response to hatrack (Original post)

Mon Apr 13, 2020, 10:13 AM

2. I think it kinda is

Global warming/climate change destroys habitats, drives species including humans together, facilitating virus spread from animals to humans (i.e. other animals).

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