So, not to start my posting for the day with terrifying tales of environmental destruction, but check this from MSNBC.com:

Up to 90 percent of the permafrost at the surface of the Northern Hemisphere could melt by the end of this century, leaving gaping holes in the ground and collapsed structures, roads and railways in northern regions.

In what scientists predict to be a vicious cycle, the thaw will release more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, further exacerbating global warming.

Yeah, you heard it. “Perma” frost is going to need a new marketing consultant because it’s not so “perma” anymore. By the end of this century, according to the scientists involved in the various studies this article covers, a huge quantity of soil that hasn’t thawed in, oh, a few tens of thousands of years – according to various sources, the last ice age started 70,000 years ago and ended 10,000 years ago – is suddenly releasing its stored ice. When the story quoted above says “leaving gaping holes in the ground,” they’re not kidding. Follow the link and you’ll see a couple kids in Alaska standing next to one of the smaller examples of this.

The fun thing is, all that ice is filled with carbon. As it melts, the carbon goes into the environment and ends up adding to global warming. We’re not talking about a little bit here, we’re talking 30% of the world’s carbon. In the end, the contribution melting permafrost makes to the ongoing cycle of global warming will exceed that made by our current levels of fossil fuel consumption. In the end, the environment will be the environment’s own worst enemy, and it’s all because we didn’t stop and take seriously shit like this twenty or thirty or five years ago. At this point, the conservative skeptics who are too busy lighting their cigars with glowing chunks of coal fresh from their strip mines will finally decide to do something, and that “something” will be to waddle inland and throw another baby seal on the fire.

Toss in the extra water entering the oceans from arctic melt and Chapel Hill stops looking like beachfront property waiting to happen and starts looking more like Atlantis. Fun!

And, though I am no immunologist, I am forced to wonder… we know microbes can be kept suspended, even live, in worse conditions than a ball of ice buried in the ground. And if there are microbes in there, and they haven’t been released in 70,000 years, we’re not exactly going to have a lot of immunity to them. And if people get worried about things like, say, smallpox on the basis that a generation or two without immunity to a disease makes the disease more dangerous than ever to those currently alive, then what kind of danger are we in when some 70,000 year old bug comes oozing out of the ground in Siberia ten years from now (or, you know, yesterday) and someone picks it up?

I need to stop reading the news.

On the other hand, this does give me an idea to explain zombies in the stories I’m working on…

I’m a sick, sick man.