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General Interest

A LESSON FROM A BABY MAMMOTH: REASONS NOT TO BE CHEERFUL

Here’s a risk involved with global warming that not too many people talk about; that bacteria frozen for hundreds of thousands or even millions of years will thaw out and carry diseases that no creature living today has ever experienced. Our immune systems repel all sorts of invaders, and we’ve built up resistance and immunity to countless bacterium and viruses. Hell, we peacefully co-exits with billions of bacteria that reside permanently in and on our bodies.

Recently a 50,000 year-old baby Wooly Mammoth was exposed in Siberia, and scientists are preparing to send it to Paris for further study. Before they could do that, however, they had to heavily irradiate the carcass with gamma rays to kill all the germs residing within it. Unlike the Mammoth, those microbes can come back to life after being frozen for millennia, hence the massive doses of gamma rays.

Also unlike the mammoth, human beings have never been exposed to these potentially lethal microbes. Hopefully the Arctic Foxes that ate part of the mammoth before a hunter found it don’t spread any fatal diseases. Imagine if global warming kicks into high gear and hundreds of thousands of prehistoric flash-frozen animal corpses start rotting in the sun?

There’s only so many heavy duty gamma ray blasters to go around. Widespread thawing could launch wind-borne and scavenger-borne diseases that might ravage animals, plants and human beings alike. Penicillin might not do the trick. Very few doctors or scientists are familiar with these microbes.

One known poison to have previously emerged from ancient animal remains is anthrax, deadly scourge of livestock for many thousand of years and lately a realistic biological weapons threat. Just the mention of the word anthrax is enough for governments to start slaughtering and cremating thousands of healthy animals in deathly fear of a general outbreak, a catastrophic prospect. As familiar as we are with anthrax, we can’t do much about it.

So, leaving aside whether or not global warming is our fault or if we can even do a damned thing about it, maybe the powers-that-be ought to think about all that unfrozen bacteria waiting in frozen limbo to kill that portion of humanity that doesn’t drown when the oceans rise and claim the land. Maybe build some more gamma-ray blasters or get super busy researching medicines to fight germs that were around long before we were. What else is under the ice?

The only worse possible scenario would be America winning the World Cup and making soccer popular here. Bad enough we just might be living in the beginning of The End of Days, but having to put up with widespread soccer and that “gooooooallll!” guy might be even more irritating than extinction.

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