1. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Another new threat from global warming discovered.

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by GingerCoffee, Mar 4, 2014.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-26387276

    Thawing the permafrost may release long dormant viruses. They may or may not be human pathogens, but there are also risks from plant and animal pathogens.

    This really wasn't intended to be a debate, but given global warming is involved, I thought this would be the safest sub-forum just in case.

    I thought people might be interested. It is after all, a more likely sci-fi scenario than an organism arriving from space. Organisms from space wouldn't have evolved to interact with life on this planet. But thawing a long dormant virus that can adapt to corn or rice or people is a very plausible scenario.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You could have put it in the Lounge, and noted that it is NOT a debate topic about global warming. By putting it in the Debate Room, you're practically inviting a climate war.
     
  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I'm going to move it over to the regular Lounge for now, though I fully understand the sentiment that made you want to put it here. If I see it get dicey, I'll slide it back over. ;)

    BTW, as soon as I read your OP, Greg Bear's Darwin's Radio and Darwin's Children came to mind. ;)
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Asking people not to debate a side issue doesn't have a history around here of being effective. I do appreciate @Wreybies making that decision for me however.
     
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  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Sad, but oh so true.

    Anywho, here's my completely uneducated question to this. Knowing that miles of our chromosomal streets and alleys consist not of remnant evolutionary things like scales and gills as was once thought, but instead of viral code left over from ancient attacks on us, would we not be facing foes we had faced in that past and won? Again, not a single googling was done before asking that... :)
     
  6. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I've always hated the idea that a single-celled organism can completely wipe out humanity. Better start watching Doomsday Preppers to get some ideas for preparing for the impending apocalypse.
     
  7. Mic.Henry
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    Mic.Henry Member

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    I wish that the ozone layer was visible for everyone to see, that and the carbon emissions we produce everyday. I wonder if it would make any real difference in terms of the energy we consume, if we could see the damage in plain view up in the sky. Hmmm.... dormant viruses scare me and all I can think about is polar bear genocide, not by heat but by severe hot sweats. :(

    Can polar bears sweat? :confused:

    Poor polar bears.... http://www.nwf.org/Wildlife/Threats-to-Wildlife/Global-Warming/Effects-on-Wildlife-and-Habitat/Polar-Bears.aspx
     
  8. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Recently polar bears were seen adapting their hunting pattern to land rather than ice flows. There are always possibilities for some adaptations to emerge.
     
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  9. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Fuckin' polar bears. Just when we think we've finally gotten rid of them, they adapt. What more can we do?

    (I am obviously not serious.)
     
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  10. Mic.Henry
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    Yes, but wouldn't adapting by moving out of their natural environment change them altogether? Wasn't the arctic climate responsible for the pigmentation of their fur, making them white rather than brown? I'm no polar bear expert but in my opinion it's their fur that makes em polar, no? That and hunting on the arctic ice, due to global warming the glaciers are drifting further apart and some are dissolving altogether. This causes the polar bear to swim large distances in order to hunt their main source of nourishment, seals. The increase in gaps from hunting ground to hunting ground burns away the calories they consume and then some. This results in skinny polar bears, malnourished and unable to make another swim, some are reportedly resorting to polar bear cannibalism! :eek:

    I'm still curious about the article you read though... have a link? It wouldn't surprise me that they would find a way to adapt by changing their hunting environment and possibly even their source of food. It makes sense, I mean... if I were a polar bear, i'd want to avoid eating my polar brethren by changing my diet to land based creatures, right? Right. :D

    Realized you never mentioned reading an article and I just assumed you had... did you? lol
     
  11. TheApprentice
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    TheApprentice Contributing Member

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    Great, so not only will it be immensely hot, but im going to be sick too?
     
  12. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    I heard this on the news. I guess a pathogen did get released, but it's only a threat to amoebas. However, no one knows what's lying under the Siberian ice.
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The most dangerous pathogens are adapted to the host species. One that has been isolated from the host populations for thousands of years is unlikely to be a superbug. Not impossible, but highly unlikely.
     
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  14. Mic.Henry
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    Mic.Henry Member

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    Mammoths and big cats, that's what lies beneath the Siberian ice. I mean, I hope that's all that remains under the tundra, because like I stated before dormant viruses with the capabilities to dwindle the human populace scares the dormant crap out of me.

    I will take your educated word on this matter because I have enough to worry about in this world. I wish you had something nice to say about the polar bears too. :D
     
  15. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Not that particular virus, it infects amoebas. But ancient microorganisms are more of a threat of becoming human pathogens than microorganisms from space. All a virus has to have is an inefficient foothold. Mutations can do the rest and result in an efficient adaptation emerging.

    I also think it's not just humans that are at risk. Too many food crops have narrow gene pools due to the nature of modern farming. Humans have enough built in diversity that while we might lose a lot of people, there's a good chance we'd survive as a species. But species that are already suffering from limited gene pools may not fare so well. Corn, wheat, rice, potatoes or some other major food crop could be infected with ancient viruses that are released from melting tundra.

    I don't think it's any more far fetched than the risk of new viruses jumping species to become important pathogens like HIV.
     
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  16. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    That is how natural selection results in new species, yes. But it's not necessarily a bad thing.

    It was on the telly, I watch anything science and I'm not even sure which program/news it was on. However, a quick Google finds the information:

    http://www.polarbearsinternational.org/science/polar-bear-status-report
    One of the problems with migrating to survive climate change is a lot of endangered species already are confined to 'islands' within continents. If you currently reside, for example, in Kruger National Park, you are limited in how far north you can migrate if the climate warms or your water sources dry up as mountain glaciers melt.
     
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  17. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, that was my first thought, too. And wouldn't it be strange to have a pathogen that doesn't exist anywhere else buried under the permafrost? Mind you, I'm not saying it couldn't happen, but I do wonder if this is just a scare story, or if there is some scientific evidence to suggest it is true.

    As for polar bears ...yes global warming is impacting on their lifestyle a lot. But they can certainly adapt. Bears are opportunists, and while some of them living in the remotest parts of the arctic will certainly die, others will simply move south to where food exists. They've been hanging around Churchill on Hudson Bay for many years (before global warming started to bite hard), where they invade the town every night, foraging for garbage and other easy pickings. Folks have to sedate them and remove them to a remote location—which solves the problem for a wee while, until they make their way back.

    And as for living in hot climates, hey, polar bears survived (unhappily) in zoos in summertime in places like Florida. And as far as camouflage goes, if they start living on land their white coats will get very dirty very quickly. I can't see polar bears dying out. In fact, I can see them becoming quite a problem for northern communities to deal with. They are large, crafty predators. Couple that with hungry stomachs? Yikes. Okay I love them to bits, but do I want them prowling my back yard at night, looking for ...me? No, not much.

    I'd say never write off a predator. Look at cougars. When I was a child, 60 years ago, they were considered to be a potentially endangered species, because their traditional habitat was under threat from development. Ermmm. How wrong could we be? Predators adapt. It's one of the things they do best.
     
  18. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    The news report of finding a viable virus in the ice was not written as a scare story or a sensational news story. It was a report on a scientific finding. Not only was a virus discovered, it turned out to still be intact and capable of reproducing within an amoeba.

    That's interesting by itself. Some viruses don't survive that long in the environment. Hepatitis B virus which is particularly hearty only remains viable a couple weeks in dried blood. HIV only lasts a short time outside a host.

    Spore forming bacteria are known to last hundreds of years in a dormant condition. What this discovery indicates is that some viruses are as long lasting as spore forming bacteria. That in itself has incredibly significant implications.
     
  19. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Well, that's my fault for not having read the bbc article before I started responding on this thread. My bad. :oops:

    I guess I'm getting so tired of all the scare stories that pop up in the media every day (Scotland will sink into the ocean without a trace if it dares separate itself politically from the rest of the UK, etc) that I tend to ignore the stories themselves, now. So many of them are based on some tiny 'study' using 16 subjects in one laboratory, and find their way into the media simply because of sensationalist subject matter. Then the 'findings' vanish without trace. This story, however, seems more, er, substantial.
     
  20. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Heavens, @jannert, you are absolutely right about the fear mongering. Over here in the US it's particularly bad. The business model of the news media is fear mongering, scandal and sensation. Add to that the fear mongering, scandal and sensation that is the political campaign model both parties here have adopted and you have a bifecta TM.

    At the same time we also have the Merchants of Doubt peddling fake science that actual threats are non-existent.

    It's never easy to sort it all out.
     
  21. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ginger...
    i think that's been a matter of serious concern among virologists and others for quite some time... hope it grows stronger legs and wakes up the deniers...
     
  22. We Are Cartographers
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    We Are Cartographers Active Member

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    Last edited: Aug 8, 2014
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  23. davidm
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    davidm Active Member

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    Polar bears will not adapt to climate change. Polar bears will perish, as will most other species, possibly including humans.

    As a new book explains, we are in the middle of the Sixth Great Extinction, driven by human-induced climate change. In one of the extinctions, 95 percent of all life on earth was wiped out. This is because the climate change happened so fast then, that species could not adapt. The same thing is happening right now.

    To adapt, in biology, does not mean to get used to something. It means that genotypes and phenotypes are altered via mutations mediated by natural selection; i.e., evolution. But when climate change happens rapidly, as it is now, evolution simply does not have time to produce species adapted to the changed climate. So species go extinct. This fact about evolution should also be seen as another decisive rebuff of intelligent design, for reasons which I should think are obvious.

    In 2009, when scientific models predicted a possible rise of average global temperature of 4 degrees centigrade by 2100, New Scientist Magazine published a map of what such a world would look like. You can find it online. Admittedly, for a variety of reasons, one should take this particular magazine with a grain of salt: its name notwithstanding, it does not have the best reputation among scientists.

    But, fwiw, the map showed that in a world of such a temperature, increased sea levels are definitely a concern, but almost irrelevant. A world warmed by just that much, according to the map, is almost completely uninhabitable. The only places that are not empty desert, according to the map, are Siberia, northern Canada, the tip of South America, a small region of Africa, New Zealand, a small region of Australia, and those parts of Greenland and Antarctica that will have melted. That's projected at a four degree rise.

    Today, the models are projecting a rise of 6 degrees, and possibly as much as 12 degrees, by mid-century. This is because the melting of the Arctic, which is happening rapidly now, will change the albedo of the earth such that it absorbs heat rather than reflecting it, and will also lead to the release of methane hydrates, much more heat-trapping than carbon dioxide. In the last decade, the oceans have been absorbing a lot of heat, and they are dying.
     
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  24. chicagoliz
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    If you're interested in viruses, give this a listen:
    http://www.upworthy.com/aids-has-killed-almost-36-million-people-but-i-bet-youve-never-heard-the-real-origin-story-2?c=sln1

    It's almost half an hour long, but if you've got that time and want to learn a lot and listen to a very good program, give this a listen. It talks about the emergence of the AIDS virus. If you're more interested in this a great book that explains this in some more depth is called Tinderbox (I forget the author.) At the end they also mention a book called Spillover, which is also very good.

    Enjoy!
     
  25. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    HIV didn't make a huge species leap. It evolved in primates like chimpanzees before it adapted to humans.

    The closer a potential host species is, in some biological aspect related to its infection cycle, to the active carrier species, the more likely the disease organism will be to successfully infect the new host species. This is why so many diseases of pigs are communicable to humans. The pig's circulatory system and much of its biochemistry is very similar to those of humans.

    Such systemic similarities are also used in selecting appropriate animals for medical testing, such as early phase drug trials.
     

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