Luna K. ('21)
The little-known implications of climate change
Luna Kanagawa 10-1
Climate change, interchangeable with the term “global warming”, is an umbrella term that refers to the disturbances in weather patterns caused by the emission of toxic substances, and other detrimental ways that human beings influence the environment. The discussion of how, why, and if, our planet has become a dangerous place due to global warming has been the epicentre of boiling disputes for decades.
It has become the subject of political debates, passionate protests, and social divides. Views vary from claims that involve complex conspiracy to skeptics insisting that the entire concept is a hoax. When the majority of those that hold more moderate interpretations of the effects think of climate change, they simply believe that it consists solely of erratic weather changes, or factories emitting dark grey fumes. With consideration of the reality that these factors most definitely create a malignant nature, it only portrays the tip of the iceberg of the atmospheric, agricultural, and environmental consequences that are posed by climate change. This naivety is caused, or unintended ignorance is a consequence of much of society’s failure to properly acknowledge the problem. It leads to issues such as the one of permafrost, to be overlooked.
July 2016 saw the first heatwave in Siberia in recorded history. At first glance, scalding temperatures may seem like a typical summer occurrence, an inevitable side effect of the much-enjoyed summer season. However, it is to be noted that Siberia is the coldest region in the world, with average winter temperatures of a staggering -30°C. As a result of the heat wave, the regions of Yakutsk and Yakutia, both situated in Siberia, are in crisis. Bacteria that had been dormant for upwards of a century once again became active; it had previously been halted from proliferation by layers of permafrost. The anthrax virus was reinvigorated, stemming from the corpses of 200 affected cattle, all of which had died by the 50s.
The bacteria, a component of what are dubbed as“Zombie Pathogens”, is capable of recovering from an inert state for 2500 years, even in permafrost conditions. Since the heat wave of 2016, anthrax has plagued the area at the expense of hundreds of dead animals and a significant number of sick civilians. The heat-inflicted tragedies of Siberia are not a unique case; more than anything, it gives an insight into what the future could potentially look like, with similar cases having been reported in Greenland and Alaska, which are located within the Arctic Circle.
The reports of outbreaks and fatalities are statistic-based and factual. Conversely, the responsibility that human beings hold for such occurrences has sparked a divide amongst groups. Regardless of the political and social quarrels that have emerged as a result of such events, the fact remains that cumulative carbon emissions undoubtedly have destructive effects on the environment, making it one of the most noxious factors contributing to climate change.
Researchers have found that Arctic methane emissions in Siberia have a great correlation with the warming of the circumpolar Russian land. An abundance of different industries are dependent on processes that involve the discharge of such pollutants. The decisions of those responsible for these industries will expose their true humanity. Would they sacrifice their wealth for the good of the environment? If hypothetically, major industries would surrender some of their financial gains to convert to the usage of less environmentally unfriendly methods of production, attitudes towards climate change may be significantly more optimistic. In a world where safety seems to have become a luxury, we must call on all business units that have the monetary means to invest in gravitating towards the usage of renewable power-to-gas processes.
Whether your stance is based on the widely shared attitude that the globe is slowly inching towards devastation due to climate change, or you believe that the scientific consensus on global warming is not credible, the inescapable truth lies in the waters in Siberia where permafrost once protected citizens from tragedy.
Brian Resnick. "Melting permafrost in the Arctic is unlocking diseases and warping the landscape." Vox. 6 Sept. 2017. Web. 2 May 2019. <https://www.vox.com/2017/9/6/16062174/permafrost-melting>
Cho, Renee. "Why Thawing Permafrost Matters." State of the Planet. 11 Jan. 2018. Web. 2 May 2019. <https://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2018/01/11/thawing- permafrost-matters/>
Curtis, Sophie. "Melting Russian permafrost could unleash anthrax and deadly prehistoric diseases." mirror. 16 Apr. 2019. Web. 2 May 2019. <https://www.mirror.co.uk/science/melting-russian-permafrost-could-unleash-14353841>
ScienceDaily. "Greenhouse emissions from Siberian rivers peak as permafrost thaws." ScienceDaily. 18 Sept. 2018. Web. 2 May 2019. <https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/09/180904103229.htm>