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  • Logan Young

Permafrost is a Pandora box and we’re opening it

Updated: Aug 23, 2019



Permafrost is a frozen layer of soil that covers over 25% of the northern hemisphere, but it’s actually not bad for the environment. What is dangerous about permafrost is what has been frozen inside for millenniums.


Ancient diseases could be released

Permafrost basically acts as a huge freezer. The melting of permafrost can hold many ancient diseases and since we possibly haven’t been in contact with these for thousands of years we are most likely not immune to them.


There is already proof of this. Supposedly, in 2016 a 12-year-old died from anthrax which they believed came from a reindeer that was infected over 75 years ago(Luhn, 2016).


The carcass was frozen in the permafrost just to be melted and released upon the food & water supply near the body. Which found its way and infected many people.


There’s more to it…

Diseases aren’t the only thing that has been found to be held by permafrost. According to vox, there is potentially 120 gigatons of carbon frozen in the soil which is double current records.

Also, 15 million gallons of deadly mercury which is almost double the amount found in the oceans, land, and atmosphere all together(Resnick, 2018).


What makes this worse is that since we are curious beings and we like to make a profit off of our environment, we most likely will start excavating those areas that have started to thaw. This may put workers and others surrounding the area, in jeopardy to deadly viruses.


So how are we taking care of the problem?

Right now there seems to be less focus on this area directly because of the other major issues,for example limiting the rise of temperature that consequencly has an effect on the melting of permafrost.


With the possibilities of deadly diseases being released, it is something we definitely should not distract ourselves from. But how much attention should we give this situation with little research on the effect it has.


What do you think? Leave a comment below



References:

Luhn, Alec. “Anthrax Outbreak Triggered by Climate Change Kills Boy in Arctic Circle.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 1 Aug. 2016, www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/01/anthrax-outbreak-climate-change-arctic-circle-russia.


Resnick, Brian. “Melting Permafrost in the Arctic Is Unlocking Diseases and Warping the Landscape.” Vox, Vox, 6 Feb. 2018, www.vox.com/2017/9/6/16062174/permafrost-melting.