Will the Next Plague Come from the Melting Ice Cap?

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Will the Next Plague Come from the Melting Ice Cap?

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One of the most memorable moments in Jurassic Park was when the fossilized life-form was brought back to life and we suddenly had dinosaurs.  It was like once whatever locked them in place was suddenly released and they were able to be fruitful and multiply, first to the delight of the world, then to their horror as the unintended consequences began to materialize. 

We’re on the verge of seeing something very similar occur due to the melting of the polar ice caps, and it has some scientists terrified.

Long-Frozen Microbes

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We all know how dangerous various pathogens can be, whether they are viruses, bacteria or even parasites.  Ebola, the Plague, Dengue, Malaria, Staph, and Meningitis are just a few examples of a long list of things that can kill us in a matter of days.  Well, as it turns out, ice that has been frozen for eons contains a wide-assortment of microbes that are now being exposed and introduced into the environment.

While chances are minimal that the majority of these bugs will spring back to life and pose a threat, it is entirely possible that some of them may be able to rejuvenate themselves.  We simply don’t know because these are organisms that we’ve never encountered before.  To make matters worse, it will take decades for scientists to collect, identify and study them.  There is a possibility that humanity can be exposed to a superbug that has the possibility to decimate a significant portion of the population according to scientists who study these things.

The Great Thaw

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This is something that has been lost in the conversation associated with melting ice caps and rising sea levels.  People’s attention is focused on the more sensational aspects of how this sudden influx of water will impact our future.  However, the threat of pathogens that become unleashed is something that should be taken more seriously as well.

Keep in mind that most deadly pathogens wiped out large numbers of people once they were “unlocked” from where they were contained and released into the general population in one form or another.  Then there are the accidental exposures that occur when those who are experimenting with newly-discovered bugs somehow let them loose.  In fact, many pathogens that are a risk to our health today are the product of human manipulation in one form or another.

New Biological Weapons?

Imagine what could happen if those who have malicious intentions get their hands on some of these unknown microbes.  If that sounds too crazy to believe, just remember the biological weapons programs that were created by the United States and Soviet Union during the Cold War.  This is the stuff of nightmares that is hard to believe, yet these pathogens still represent an existential threat to us today, especially if they fall into the wrong hands or are used in an attack.

Keep in mind that we still don’t know about all of the pathogens that are lurking in some of the more isolated parts of the world.  Now that we need to worry about what becomes exposed as ice melts as well, our chances of encountering health threats significantly increases.  Make sure that you are taking biological threats seriously and incorporating at least basic protections into your planning.  We are overdue for another pandemic as it is, and this news only increases the chances of it happening sooner rather than later.