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By: Shreeya Indap
"The camera zooms in as the researchers huddle around a mummified child half-submerged in thawing mud. They gently peel away a few layers of deerskin clothing to reveal blackened skin pocked with blemishes characteristic of smallpox pustules. As they cut into a wizened leg, liquid oozes from the spongy flesh. Some minutes later they finish their work and douse the tomb with disinfectant to try to prevent anyone else from carrying smallpox out with them-accidently or otherwise.
It may sound like a passage out of a new R.L.Stine Goosebumps book but, it is actually an excerpt from the article "Is Live Smallpox Lurking in the Arctic?" by biophysicist Richard Stone. He recounts the horrific sights as Russian bioweapon experts examine corpses now being exposed at the surface because of spring flooding by the Kolyma River.
Smallpox is a fatal and highly contagious disease that had affected humans for thousands of years, before being eliminated in 1980. Over 30% of people who caught it died, and it was infamous for its lethal pus-filled bumps, fevers, and headaches.
The most recent warnings that the once-thought eradicated smallpox could return first appeared after 40 people were hospitalized during an anthrax outbreak when the permafrost melted (a result of climate change), thawing reindeer carcasses underneath it. One child was killed while over 2,000 reindeer painfully died.
Further evidence of this potential epidemic came after the anthrax outbreak, when virus experts from the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences visited the Kolyma banks. The bodies studied had signs of smallpox sores, and some fragments of the virus's DNA were found.
There's no denying that climate change is the worst thing that the human race has ever produced, with our partner in crime of course, carbon dioxide. Forget about wars, elections, and everything else, because the real enemy is lurking out there.