Our world has come to an unprecedented pause in an attempt to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Doctors call it a “novel” coronavirus, which means that it is new to our population and none of us has immunity to it. The cost in human lives and the widespread havoc it wreaks is consuming our news cycle. But what many of us don’t realize is that our world has a ticking time bomb of pathogens, all of which would be “novel” to us, if released. For the sake of our collective future, we must keep them under ice.
The Arctic Ocean does not only keep our planet cool through the albedo effect, when its white ice reflects the sun’s heat away from the planet. It keeps the local permafrost, with its payload of pathogens, frozen. Within the ice and permafrost of the Arctic region are bacteria and viruses that have been kept dormant for millennia. But the ice is melting. Sections of the Arctic Ocean are now 4C too hot. Up to 95% of the summer ice is gone. And scientists have proven that frozen Arctic viruses as old as 30,000 years can be reactivated. Read more here.