Regardless of the cause, global warming is certainly occurring. To some people’s surprise, global warming does not necessarily mean it will be warmer where they actually live. In fact, it is quite possible that the local weather will become much colder in parts of the world due to global warming.
Take Canada for example. Global warming is causing the Arctic ice sheets, permafrost, and Canadian glaciers to melt at a record pace. The melting of the Arctic ice creates a temperature differential that changes the flow of the winds surrounding the Arctic. In the past, these winds were more contained to the northern regions when the temperatures were colder. Now, the cold arctic winds are traveling much further south than they used to reach. This is responsible for the colder, harsher winters now experienced in parts of Canada and the northeastern part of the United States.
In the classic tale written by H.G. Wells entitled “The War of the Worlds,” a race of Martian aliens invades the Earth causing mayhem and destruction until they are killed by the exposure to earthbound viruses and bacteria. The Earth is going to experience such an “alien” invasion as the permafrost melts. This invasion is not from extraterrestrial origins. It comes from the microbes, bacteria, viruses, and fungi that are many years old and in some case hundreds of millions of years old that are still alive and reactivate when thawed from a deeply frozen state.
Melting permafrost is exposing a treasure of minerals that could not be mined effectively before. The mining of such treasure may cause the world to have a pandemic infection. Already anthrax broke out in parts of Siberia. There is a good chance smallpox, which was assumed to be eradicated, will return with a vengeance.
We may suffer the same fate as the fictional invading Martians in that we may be killed by tiny microbes, bacteria, and viruses, which come back to life from ancient times. And just like the fictional Martians, we have no defense against these tiny creatures.
Here are fifteen things that scientists are finding as the not-so-permanent permafrost melts.
15. Preserved Dead Bodies
Starting as far back as 1991 with the discovery of a 5,000-year-old prehistoric man in Switzerland from the melting of a glacier, scientists have been discovering preserved dead bodies of ancient humans and animals.
In 1999, a human body that was extremely well-preserved was found in Northern Canada. Hunters discovered it by accident at the edges of a melting glacier. The man had fallen into a crevice, was trapped and quickly froze to death. There he remained for a very long time with all of his clothes, tools he carried in his backpack, and even food he carried along to eat. When there is new snow, these crevices get covered over, which makes a severe hidden hazard for those hiking through the area that continues to this day.
Estimates are that this man is many thousands of years old. He carried no European-style tools, which were introduced to the area about 250 years ago. He was dressed in a fine pelt made of squirrel skins and wore a hat. He had a walking stick, a spear for hunting, and a leather pouch containing his lunch of gathered greens and fish.
In Austria, dozens of frozen mummies are being revealed by the melting ice. These are men who died during World War II from what was then called the “white death.” They were frozen to death while still wearing their uniforms and carrying rifles.
A 12,400-year-old dog was found in almost perfect condition in Siberia. This dog is an extinct species. Since the dog’s brain was still intact scientists were able to extract complete DNA from the carcass. Plans are to make an attempt to clone the animal using the DNA to see if it is possible to bring an extinct species back to life, like the movie Jurassic Park. What was considered fiction may now become a reality.
14. Viruses We Have No Modern Resistance For
What would it be like to have a pandemic of smallpox or a long-forgotten deadly flu? This could easily kill millions and we could do little to stop it. Smallpox, thought to be eradicated, could come back to life. Smallpox is the most virulent killer ever known to attack human beings. This deadly disease is horrific and easily spreads from one person to another.
Scientists who explore the sites where preserved bodies are found, and there are many, now take extra precautions. They test the surrounding area and the bodies for contamination with deadly viruses. The risk of human-to-human contagion is very high from gravesites that are on the surface because the frozen ice made it impossible to bury the bodies deeper. Hundreds of these gravesites are being exposed as the permafrost melts.
This threat is real, not speculative. Scientists in Siberia discovered an ancient virus that is over 30,000-years-old. When it was defrosted, it immediately came back to life and was infectious. This particular virus is very large, which is why it could withstand being frozen for so long. It attacks amoebas and kills them quickly; however, it is not infectious for animals or humans. The characteristic of not being infectious for humans was simply a matter of luck. The next virus that comes back to life may be quite different and able to infect us easily.
Another very disturbing trait is that scientists discovered ancient viruses that are antibiotic resistant. These viruses come from a time way before the modern discovery of antibiotics, so they developed this resistance naturally as a survival mechanism. This means if this type of virus infects humans there is absolutely nothing we could do to stop it.
13. Bacteria Millions of Years Old
Scientist found viable, living bacteria that may be up to 250 million years old. There are many examples of ancient bacteria, which are many millions of years old, which have been easily brought back to life. The scientists simply put the bacteria in a Petri dish filled with nutrient-rich agar that they love to eat.
The way bacteria survive so long is that under stressful conditions, they form a protection around themselves and turn into spores. These spores are impervious to almost everything in the environment including exposure to radiation. In this state, very little can kill them except physically crushing them or heating them to high levels. In ice, the bacteria can stay in this state virtually forever. Many scientists speculate that the origin of life on Earth came from bacterial spores brought to earth by meteor impacts in a process called pangenesis. The bacteria were still alive after traveling across the universe for perhaps billions of years.
Viable bacteria have been found encased in salt crystals from deep salt caves in Mexico, in amber, and now very frequently in the ice of the melting permafrost. Even though scientists are taking care when examining these sites, others that can now easily access the same areas are taking no precautions at all, especially those looking for mineral deposits. Their activities are almost certain to expose many of these bacteria by bringing them from the depths to the surface and letting them easily escape.
For those who doubt the possibility of ancient bacteria causing modern problems, there is clear proof that this can easily occur. Anthrax is caused by bacteria. The warmer temperatures are causing parts of the ice to thaw in Siberia. Frozen carcasses of reindeer that died from anthrax are being exposed. They have been frozen for about 75 years, which was the last time an anthrax outbreak occurred in that area.
The bacteria from the dead animals made its way into the water supply and infected the living reindeer population. This local epidemic killed over 1,500 of the reindeer, caused over forty people to get severely ill and to need hospitalization. This outbreak caused the death of one child who was exposed.
The plague hit the local villagers without warning. The illnesses and the one death occurred very rapidly and the contagion spread through the living reindeer extremely quickly. The Russian government had to put a massive area, where the anthrax breakout occurred, under quarantine to stop the spread of this deadly disease.
11. Valuable Mineral Deposits
Estimates are that up to about one-fifth of the world’s supply of valuable mineral, oil, and gas deposits remains undiscovered above the Arctic Circle. Finding gold and other valuable mineral deposits, as the permafrost melts, sounds like a good thing, right? Not necessarily.
In the “gold rush” caused by the permafrost melting, there is little to stop the spread of contagious bacteria and viruses. In fact, global warming does not even have to melt the areas of permafrost to cause this contagion vector to increase because the warming already has opened up new sea lanes that were previously blocked by ice. This increased traffic of commercial ocean vessels used for exploration and even brought tourist cruise ships to areas that never were visited before.
Scientists who study pandemic outbreaks and the spread of disease globally are terrified of this new activity in areas that are certain to contain contagious things, which are being released by the permafrost melting. Boats full of tourists that return to their home destinations are the perfect carriers to spread disease. The cruise trips are short, allowing plenty of time to be infected and not yet show signs of disease symptoms until after the cruise passengers return home. Some of these cruise ships are taking people ashore for walkabouts near the melting glaciers.
This is a global disaster in the making and we could easily cause a global pandemic from such foolish behavior.
If that is not bad enough, the melting may release enormous amounts of trapped methane gas that was held in place by the permafrost. Methane is a very powerful “greenhouse” gas. Massive releases of natural methane will accelerate the problem of global warming.
10. Evidence of Ancient Human Populations
The melting in Siberia is uncovering evidence of ancient humans such as Denisovans and Neanderthals who roamed the area about 30,000 to 40,000 years ago. The worry about infectious diseases hiding in the corpses is a very serious risk when handling these ancient humans. In the past, archaeologists stopped an excavation when they discovered evidence of a potentially deadly disease.
Now, the current exploration methods, used at archeology sites in these areas of Siberia, follow hazardous materials protocols, such as those used in a laboratory where work is being conducted with virulent strains of infectious agents.
In spite of the risks, there is an enormous amount of things that can be learned from these extremely well-preserved ancient human bodies. Even though it would be illegal in most countries, it is possible that intact DNA can be extracted that would permit the cloning of an ancient human being to bring a copy of him or her back to life. This Frankenstein-like experiment has many ethical implications, yet at the same time, it is fascinating to consider what might be discovered about our past.
9. Exquisite Fossils With Stinky Odors Never Smelled By Us Before
The melting permafrost is revealing many frozen prehistoric animals, including giant mammoths, saber-tooth cats, cave bears, and a rare extinct species of cave lions. Archeologists also find horses, bison, deer, and reindeer that are the ancient ancestors of their modern counterparts.
These are some of the best-preserved fossils found anywhere in the world. The scientific value is significant in these discoveries. They are also a treasure hunter’s prize because these fossils are very valuable and sell for many thousands of dollars.
Besides finding the frozen animal carcasses, the melting permafrost is exposing the manure of these animals. Scientists working at these exploration sites experience a foul odor from the manure as it melts. Moreover, there are potentially dangerous microbes in the feces as well as methane and carbon dioxide released from the melting that contributes to the negative impact of global warming. These huge prehistoric animals made a gigantic amount of manure in these areas.
8. Extraterrestrial Evidence
UFO researchers noticed a large object measuring about 1,640 feet long that is located off the coast of Antarctica. Speculations are that this may be an alien spacecraft or a hidden underwater alien base. It could just be an unusually shaped piece of ice.
There is a long history of interest in the Arctic and Antarctica by ufologists because of the remoteness of the areas and their unexplored nature, as well as the supposed secrecy of governments that have a presence there.
Governments with adjacent territories to the Arctic have made various claims to the territories, which include Canada, Denmark (which owns Greenland), Norway, Russia, and the United States. Antarctica, on the other hand, is the only continent in the world that remains unclaimed by any specific country under a global treaty.
Speculations about extraterrestrial connections and alien bases started with the unusual Nazi interest in both the Arctic and Antarctica. During World War II, the Nazis explored these areas and set up bases. Conspiracy theorists say that is how the Nazis made contact with extraterrestrials and this was the source of information that helped the Germans make flying disks, which look like alien UFOs.
7. Military Bases
There are known currently-operating bases and secret historical bases that are being exposed as the permafrost melts. The United Sates and Russia established a significant military presence in the Arctic. Nazi Germany had a significant historical presence there as well.
In 1959, America built an underground base in the Arctic called “Camp Century.” It was meant to be a launching facility for nuclear warheads aimed at Russia. It has since been abandoned and is now entombed under ice. As the permafrost continues to melt, the remnants of this old base may rise to the surface.
The USA now has the Thule Air Base on the northwestern coast of Greenland. It serves as the home for the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS), which tracks any potential launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles that are headed towards America. The BMEWS system works by constantly bouncing radio waves off the upper atmosphere to detect any missiles that fly over the North Pole.
Russian has its Trefoil military base located next to the Arctic Circle, which has abut 150 troops and many warplanes that are always ready and on alert for nuclear attacks. Although most of the activities at the base are top-secret, Putin visited this base in March 2017, for publicly released photo-ops as part of the Russian propaganda campaign to lay claim to the estimated $35 trillion worth of gas and oil reserves in the area. The Russian expansion in this area, under the direct command of Putin, is the largest effort made since the Cold War ended. Territorial disputes over parts of this area may redefine the meaning of a “Cold” War.
6. Nazi Secret Bases
Russian explorers discovered a secret Nazi base that was code-named “Schatzgraebr,” which means treasure hunter in English. It is located on Alexandra Island in the Arctic. It was constructed during 1942 after Hitler invaded Russia. Its main strategic value was as a weather station that helped the movement of German troops, submarines, and warships. It was ultimately the severe winter weather in Russia that defeated the German’s invasion.
The Nazi base was abandoned during 1944 because all the researchers at the base got food poisoning from eating tainted polar beat meat and had to be rescued by a U-Boat. The war ended and the Germans never returned to this base.
72 years later, Russians found the base. They discovered rusted-out bunkers containing over 500 artifacts, such as rusted bullets from the WW II period and some well-preserved documents.
Alexandra Land was a disputed territory for many years; however, it is now under the firm control of the Russians. Russia is planning to build a permanent strategic military base there over the next decade.
The American Secretary of State, John Kerry, made a surprising visit to Antarctica. He was the first senior administration official to do so. The “cover” story was his trip concerned the impacts of climate change.
Conspiracy theorists say that he wanted to visit the site of a secret Nazi base that was discovered there. The more outrageous theories have the Nazis colluding with aliens who were hiding in underground bases in Antarctica and that Hitler faked his suicide and secretly went to the Nazi/Alien base in Antarctica after WW II.
5. Entrance to Hollow Earth
Hollow Earth theory has a version that is relatively believable, which is that there are huge underground caverns, streams, and livable conditions that could be occupied by people. The more far-fetched version of the Hollow Earth theory states that the entire earth is hollow and may contain its own mini-sin.
In both the Arctic and Antarctica there have certainly been manmade attempts to establish underground bases. The reason for this is very logical. The temperatures are warmer when the bases are underground rather than building them on the surface where they are exposed to high winds that add a “chill factor,” which produces extraordinary cold temperatures. There is geothermal activity in Antarctica, which can also be tapped by building underground facilities.
These manmade entrances to older installations as well as natural openings in the permafrost are easily imagined as entrances to the fabulous imaginary Hollow Earth abode.
The fascination with the idea of a Hollow Earth spawned many books about the subject. Some claim this is the place where the remnants the culture of Atlantis are to be found. Others imagine alien ships flying in and out of entrances to Hollow Earth as the perfect place to hide while being on planet Earth.
Some of the theories even suggest that the Inuit (Eskimo) and Mongolian people are decedents from those who live in the Hollow Earth.
Marshall Gardener wrote a book entitled “A Journey to the Earth’s Interior,” that was published in 1913. He created a working model of his idea of the Hollow Earth and even got a U.S. patent for the design (Patent Number 1,096,102). That is how serious these “Hollow Earthers” can be.
If the Hollow Earth does not exist, there are certainly extensive cave systems and underground caverns all over the world. Many remain to be discovered and the entrances to these underground spaces are being revealed as the permafrost melts.
4. Lost Explorers
The Arctic exploration expedition of Captain John Franklin left England during 1845 with two ships, the HMS Erebus and the aptly named HMS Terror. The expedition was a disaster. All 129 men and its captain were lost.
Captain Franklin was looking for the undiscovered Northwest Passage, which would be a way to transit from one side of the Arctic to the other. The ships of the expedition became icebound in severe winter weather.
During 1848, a rescue mission was sent and then more ships were added in 1850 to search for the missing men. A total of eleven English ships plus two American ones went on an exhaustive search. They found a few relics and evidence of three graves on Beechey Island showing that a team from the ship set out on foot to try to reach an established remote outpost but never made it. In 1859, a note from the Captain was found on King William Island that described the icebound ships and the fate of the explorers. Due to starvation, the crew took to cannibalism of the dead bodies to try and stay alive. In the end, all died.
The melting of the ice that occurred since then made it possible to continue searching for the missing ships. It took until 2014 to find the wreck of the HMS Erebus just west of O’Reilly Island. In 2016, the HMS Terror was found but the Arctic Research Foundation. The ship was in pristine condition, just south of King William Island.
3. Greenhouse Gas
Carbon dioxide gas is taking most of the bad rap for potentially being the cause of global warming; however, there is a gas far worse than this one. It is methane.
Molecules of methane trap much more heat than carbon dioxide when they are released into the atmosphere. Underground concentrations of methane gas that are going to be released by the melting of the permafrost present an extraordinary risk.
Not only will the methane released increase the problem of global warming, it will exponentially increase its impact because as more warming occurs more methane gas will be released. This is what scientists call a self-reinforcing cycle. The initial warming leads to more methane emission and the increased emissions of methane, lead to more warming. The situation can easily get out of control and go so rapidly that we are already past the moment where anything can be done about this.
Many of the current scientific calculations do not take this methane gas release into account when they make a prediction of the rate of sea-level rise due to global warming. The impact of methane released accelerates this danger by making it happen decades faster than predicted. Millions of those living on islands and in coastal areas worldwide will be impacted and need to evacuate in the face of rising ocean levels.
2. Evidence Of Earth’s Past Calamities
The melting of the permafrost is helping scientists understand more about the history of Earth’s calamities, including the many extinction events. Studying extinction events is important because the next one may also be the extinction of the human race as well as all the animals.
There have been six major extinction events and numerous minor ones that scientists know about. The last major extinction event was the one that happened at the end of the Cretaceous period about 66 million years ago. It was responsible for the death of most of the dinosaurs.
It has been a long time since a major extinction event. That means probabilistically we are overdue for another one.
As the permafrost melts, examining the layers exposed is like going back in time. Scientists already study ice cores to learn more about the Earth’s geological record by analyzing ancient air trapped in bubbles that are inside the ice.
The melting of the permafrost is exposing vast areas that scientists could not previously explore. There are gigantic sinkholes occurring where the ice has melted and the ground is shifting. One in Siberia nicknamed the “Hell Hole,” is many miles long and frequently makes a thunderous sound as the earth falls in deeper when the underground ice melts away.
1. History of Ice Ages
Scientists know of five major ice ages. We are currently at the end of the fifth one called the Quaternary Ice Age. The geological record shows that when the ice melted in the past, this allowed major migrations of animals and humans who could walk over exposed land areas previously covered by ice. At one time in history, even Antarctica was green and lush with trees and vegetation.
The Earth goes through these major cycles starting from being almost completely covered with ice. This happened during the second ice age that was about 635 to 720 million years ago. At the end of that ice age, came the Cambrian explosion. Millions of new species developed as the ice receded, temperatures rose, and more of the land mass was exposed.
This may be one of the benefits of what the Earth is going to experience next from the end of our current ice age. There may be fewer humans on the planet, yet an abundance of vegetation and trees with far more insects and animals.
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