Weingarten: Zombie virus, a new addition to the climate debate


Fusion Medical Animation - Unsplash

Note that this is a visualization of the coronavirus, not the pathogens mentioned in the opinion below.

Caleb Weingarten, Columnist

If COVID wasn’t enough, we now have to consider the fact that “zombie viruses” have been found dormant in ancient layers of permafrost that are now in danger of being exposed and reactivated into existence with the progression of global warming and climate change. 

European scientists have uncovered nearly two dozen pathogens from a frozen lake in Russia that had been frozen for 50,000 years

Jean-Michel Claverie, a professor at Aix-Marseille University in France and co-author of the study uncovering the viruses, said it is alarming that much more has not been done to notify the public about the potential these diseases have. 

So, that’s great.

As we sit on campus, prepping for some of the most stressful times as college students, we must prepare ourselves that due to these large permafrost melting, future pandemics are more likely than not. In fact, many theorists and health professionals have proclaimed that pandemics could be the most likely scenario in which human extinction occurs (of course, if nuclear war doesn’t beat it to the punch).

My intent is not to be grim, but informative, because I believe this may be a crisis we can mitigate. It calls for more attention to the environmental situation that we face at the present moment. Whatever your stance or political motivation on this issue is, I ask you to abandon it (at least for the remainder of this article).

For those of you who are right-leaning, I will agree that “climate alarmism” isn’t the right way to approach climate change, let alone any issue. Sensible and honest propositions are only born out of reasonable and thorough discussions. Dousing cherished art isn’t the way to make this happen.

For those who are left-leaning, I also agree that the environment is worth giving every bit of attention to. Everyone’s lives – including everything non-human – depend on it, and finding viruses trapped in icy water should only accelerate the urgency in which we attend to it. 

As I’m not a climate scientist, I do not wish to tell you what should be done to address climate change other than we need to all do our part to consider the evidence and keep our minds open to every good possibility that comes our way.

Happy finals, everyone.