For those of us paying attention, it’s safe to say that climate change is the scariest thing that humanity will have to face in the coming decades.
While we’re already beginning to feel the impact of a warming planet, the full effect of the greenhouse gases we’ve pumped into the atmosphere might not be felt for years. While we can’t be 100 percent sure of all the ways in which climate change will destroy us, it will probably hit us from all sides. To demonstrate this point, I’d like to take you to the frozen tundra of Siberia.
Beautiful, right? Except that the warming climate has caused the region’s thick stores of permafrost to thaw. While this is bad news in and of itself, this phenomenon has brought back one seriously deadly strain of bacteria.
One frozen reindeer carcass that thawed in the process is believed to have died during the region’s last major anthrax outbreak in 1968. When it warmed up, it released this bacteria into the air.
The outbreak has killed over 1,200 reindeer and has landed 40 people in the hospital.
Record warm temperatures didn’t just cause that carcass to release anthrax. They also allowed it to spread quickly.
Anthrax is typically spread through contact with the bacteria’s spores. Upon contact with the skin, they can create lesions. The spores can also be inhaled and ingested, which together can cause severe health complications. There is a vaccine for the disease, but for those already infected, early treatment with antibiotics is essential.
(via Mysterious Universe)
Luckily, this outbreak is receiving the full attention of the Russian government, so it probably won’t spread far. Still, it makes you wonder about all the other unexpected impacts of climate change we might have to contend with later on.