NO ONE TALKS ABOUT IT, SOMETHING MORE DANGEROUS THAN CORONAVIRUS
THE DISSOLUTION OF GLACIERS IS MORE DANGEROUS THAN CORONAVIRUS
The world is concerned about the spread of the coronavirus.
While the virus which in terms of mortality rate is slightly above a normal flu and has so far proved fatal only for the elderly and patients debilitated by pre-existing diseases is studied to find a vaccine and effective countermeasures, in Italy episodes of racism towards every citizen of Asian origin.
In this climate of collective hysteria, the publication of a study that puts the true medical risk of the coming years, caused by the melting of the ice, risks passing by in silence.
The study, published in early January, exposes the results of a research project started in 2015 by a team of U.S. researchers who analyzed the microbial content of ice cores taken in the northwest of the Tibetan plateau. The researchers drilled a 50 m deep layer of glacier to get two samples. Within them, microbiological analysis identified 33 groups of viruses, of which 28 unknown and of ancient origin.
The study of ice cores has allowed us to retrace the climatic history of the area up to 15 thousand years ago.
The risk is that, due to the climate change that affects the Poles hardest, the melting of the ice releases the trapped bacteria all this time.
By causing even the large Himalayan glaciers to retreat and thin, the climatic emergency can release unknown and therefore potentially dangerous viruses into the atmosphere.
The biologist Jean-Michel Claverie, emeritus professor of Genomics and Bioinformatics at the French university of Aix-Marseille, underlines that a further danger comes from the fact that the northernmost regions of the Planet, until now uninhabited, due to the thaw are more and more affected by the mining of oil and rare earths, which by digging can bring to the surface not only minerals, but also buried diseases.
We do not know what could happen if we found ourselves face to face with pathogens buried for centuries, but we must not underestimate the risks: since we have not been dealing with those viruses and bacteria for a long time, man is no longer equipped with the antibodies necessary to face them.
Furthermore, some of these pathologies have never spread since modern medicine exists, which therefore does not have reliable studies on which to base the production of treatments and vaccines. Permafrost the frozen soil layer made up of plant biomass that has stratified over time s the perfect environment for storing bacteria and viruses even for millions of years because it is frozen, free of oxygen and dark, Claverie explains, underlining that right there they can also be responsible for past global epidemics. These are pathogens that could be released into the air and come into contact with aquifers: among them, smallpox, anthrax and even bubonic plague, in addition to other unknown diseases.
All this can happen because, while in normal conditions every summer in the permafrost a layer of about 50 cm of ice melts, which in winter returns to form, with global warming the glacial cover is constantly decreasing: in the Arctic it occurs almost 13% lose every decade.
Even the ice continent, Antarctica, is said to have warmed by about 3 ° C in the last 50 years: in this period of time 87% of its glaciers have retreated and as many as 9 ice platforms have undergone a significant collapse.
The cold 'third pole' of the Earth, that is, the so-called 'alpine' glaciers (Alps and Himalaya, Patagonia, Alaska, but also the Caucasus and Urals, Kilimanjaro and Ruwenzori in Africa, etc.) sees a reduction of up to 75%, in especially those under 3000 meters. In our Alps it went from 519 km2 in 1962 to the current 368 km2, 40% less.
Water resources and agriculture at risk, submerged cities.
The problem is not as remote as it seems: on the planet's ice depend water resources, climate mitigation, balance of the oceans, greenhouse gas emissions. The worst case scenario for the IPCC at 2100 involves a sea level rise from 52 to 98 centimeters. The repercussions on human societies would be enormous.
Currently 60% of the population is concentrated on the coastal areas of the world within 100 km from the coast.
Alpine glaciers, for example, are the reservoir of fresh water during the summer and dry seasons, therefore essential for agriculture and industry. 2 billion people will suffer from the scarcity of water due to the loss of Asian alpine ice (a quarter of the current population): 7 large rivers are in fact fed by the Himalayan glaciers including Brahmaputra, Ganges, Indo, Mekong. 95% of agriculture is powered by the Karakorum glaciers while in India 65% of agriculture is connected to the Himalaya glaciers.