Another reason to fear the melting of the polar ice caps: a deadly virus could soon be back in circulation.
Scientists have just reported a giant virus found frozen in the ice, and it is actually the fourth known potentially deadly virus that could be unleashed by the melting.
The 30,000-year-old virus, which was described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is apparently huge compared with modern viruses, with a ton of genes that would have to be considered when searching for a cure.
“A few viral particles that are still infectious may be enough, in the presence of a vulnerable host, to revive potentially pathogenic viruses,” the lead researcher, Jean-Michel Claverie of France’s National Centre for Scientific Research, said in a Washington Post article.
Some scientists say we should be safe, but others are worried enough to go ahead and start working on some answers.
“We cannot rule out that distant viruses of ancient Siberian human (or animal) populations could reemerge as arctic permafrost layers melt and/or are disrupted by industrial activities,” the paper says.
Better safe than sorry, I guess.