In recent months, there has been a world-class disaster on the earth, that is, the forest fire in Australia. The fire, which lasted for four months and was still burning, engulfed more than 50000 square kilometers of forest and killed more than 400 million animals, including 20000 koalas, Australia’s national treasure, and a large number of kangaroos and livestock. Some experts assert that 80% of the koala habitat in Australia has been burned, and others say that koala has been “functionally extinct”.
The forest fires in Australia once again let us see that the power of nature is irresistible to human beings, and the reason for nature’s frequent counterattack against human beings is caused by human activities. Especially since the industrial era, a large number of industrial production has released a large amount of carbon dioxide, which has exacerbated the greenhouse effect, thus making the global temperature rising.
The rising global temperature is not only the result of drought and forest fires, but also the terrible consequence of the continuous recovery of ancient permafrost. I believe many friends have heard of permafrost. Permafrost refers to the area where the land surface freezes continuously for at least two years. It exists in high latitude and high altitude cold regions, where the snow will not melt even in summer. Permafrost is composed of rock, sediment, organic matter and ice, which depends on the geographical location. Ice, like cement, acts as a binder to hold permafrost together and stabilize its structure.
Most of the permafrost on the earth today was formed during or after the last ice age. The composition of permafrost is complex. The uppermost active layer is mainly composed of soil and ice, which can extend to 2 meters underground. The maximum depth of permafrost can reach 2000 meters. In the northern hemisphere, permafrost covers about 25% of the exposed land surface, including Alaska, Siberia, Greenland, Canada and Russia. In the southern hemisphere, permafrost can be found in Antarctica and the Southern Alps of New Zealand.
Permafrost contains a large number of organic matter, which are handed down from the last ice age, and are buried in a large number of animal and plant debris, as well as prehistoric human remains. This is a perfect and huge natural freezer, which can also be said to be a huge natural biological laboratory. No one knows how many animal and plant specimens are stored in permafrost, but scientists know that it must be a number beyond our imagination.
Under normal circumstances, we don’t have to worry about the harm of permafrost at all. However, with the rising global temperature brought about by the greenhouse effect, the permafrost layer has begun to recover. At this time, the earth may be in great trouble. Some people may say that even if there are a large number of biological remains in the permafrost, they have been stored underground for thousands of years, tens of thousands of years, or even hundreds of thousands of years. They have been dead for a long time. What impact can they have?
In fact, what scientists are worried about is not the remains of prehistoric human beings and animals buried in the permafrost. These are all dead objects. Even if the permafrost recovers, they can only become the research objects in scientists’ laboratories and will not pose a threat to the earth and human beings. What really worries scientists is the frozen bacteria and viruses.
We all know that life has a life span, but different lives have different life spans. The life cycle of bacteria and viruses is very short when they are normally active. But the same bacteria and viruses have one characteristic, that is, they have super strong vitality. Once they are frozen, they may sleep for a long time without death. Even millions of years of ancient bacteria and viruses are likely to revive in the right environment.
In 2015, scientists found permafrost 30000 years ago in Siberia, which contains infectious viruses such as anthrax. Earlier, scientists found viruses such as smallpox and Spanish flu in tundra areas. And scientists also collected some ancient bacteria from permafrost tens of thousands of years ago, brought them back to the laboratory, and successfully recovered some of them.
It can be seen that it is possible for ancient bacteria and viruses to recover under suitable climatic conditions. The deeper the permafrost is, the older it is. The deepest permafrost may be more than a few million years ago. Among them, ice bound organisms, bacteria and viruses must be more than one million years ago. And near the surface of the ice is a number of bacteria and viruses that have emerged over the past thousand years. They have brought great disasters to human beings.
Therefore, with the rising temperature of the earth, the first thing to recover is the top permafrost, in which bacteria and viruses that have threatened human beings are likely to recover in large quantities, thus bringing unknown risks to the earth’s ecology and human beings. And the constant melting of permafrost will release a lot of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, including methane and carbon dioxide, which are decomposed from organic matter trapped in ice for thousands of years.
These released greenhouse gases will absorb the heat reflected from the earth, increase the global temperature and cause more permafrost to melt. This is a very bad vicious circle. In recent years, the rise of global temperature has become more and more obvious. A large part of the reason is related to the continuous melting of global permafrost. And it’s hard for human beings to stop this trend.
Therefore, in the future, the earth and human beings will have to face the impact of unknown bacteria and viruses brought about by the recovery of permafrost, especially those ancient viruses in the deep permafrost, such as bacteria and viruses more than one million years away, which are completely unfamiliar to human beings. We almost know nothing about them. These ancient bacteria and viruses are very different from today’s life. Once they pose a threat to the earth and human beings, it may be a huge disaster.
Scientists once thought that the extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago might be caused by the impact of an asteroid on the earth. However, through research, some scientists believe that there is another possibility for the extinction of dinosaurs, that is, by a prehistoric virus. And the power of a virus to destroy a species seems to be stronger than the natural force of asteroid impact.
In any case, the rising global temperature is bringing more and more risks and disasters to the earth and human beings. At present, the problems we are facing, such as forest fires, frequent typhoons, melting ice and snow, earthquakes and droughts, are just small impacts brought about by the rising global temperature. The real big impact is that the terrible disaster has not really arrived.
If the permafrost is frozen with an ancient virus that can seriously threaten the earth’s ecology and human beings, once this virus recovers, it may be difficult for human beings to find a solution in time. The invasion of bacteria and viruses is very fast. They can spread in a large number in a very short time. I believe that in recent years, everyone has seen the terrible transmission ability of bacteria and viruses. For example, why do we eat pork so expensive? The main reason is that African swine fever virus makes a large number of pigs infected and die.
Hawking has repeatedly warned mankind to leave the earth as soon as possible. This shows that Hawking also sees the great risks that the earth will face in the future, and only when human beings leave the earth can they avoid these great risks, can human civilization continue to develop. Of course, all these are caused by human beings themselves, which is the so-called causality. In order to develop science and technology and industry rapidly, human beings have caused the rapid deterioration of the earth’s ecology. The rapid deterioration of the ecological environment will continue to feed back disasters to human beings.
In any case, if human beings want to avoid the disaster of the earth in the future, the main way out is to develop science and technology rapidly. Now we can only rely on powerful science and technology. As long as the power of science and technology is strong enough, we can hope to use the power of science and technology to deal with all possible disasters in the future. When we have the ability of interstellar navigation, the earth and the solar system will not be able to trap us. We can leave the solar system at any time to live on the second earth outside the solar system. It can be seen that science and technology have changed human life, and science and technology can also change the future destiny of mankind.
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