A scientist has warned that a whole host of deadly diseases which have laid dormant for centuries could be unleashed on our world again as the ice caps slowly melt.
The world keeps spinning and the world keeps heating up. The exact causes of global warming are open to speculation. It could be the burning of fossil fuels or it could be something else. What we do know is the big thaw is slowly changing our world. And according to one scientist, things could soon get far too hot to handle.
The Mirror reports that the professor of global history and director of the Oxford Centre for Byzantine Research Peter Frankopan has warned that deadly diseases such as the dreaded Black Death could soon be making an unwelcome return.
The theory goes that biological agents that have been buried for millennia will finally be released to create merry havoc in the world once the ice caps melt.
Speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, the professor explained, "the process of what happens when there is this kind of climate change is enormous.
"It's not about the Maldives being harder to visit on holiday or migration of people — it's about what happens when permafrost unfreezes and the release of biological agents that have been buried for millennia, in fact tens of thousands of years."According to the latest available data, the rate at which Antarctica is losing ice has tripled since 2007. No matter the causes, it's cause for concern. Especially in light of the fact that the latest reports indicate we only have 12 years to prevent catastrophic climate change.
And when it comes to catastrophic, there's nothing worse than a pandemic such as the Black Death, or to give it its official title, the bubonic plague, which one wiped out 75 to 200 million people.
The devil is always in the details, as Professor Frankopan stressed during his speech. He revealed that in the 1340s due to solar flares or volcanic activity there was a 1.5-degree movement of heating in the Earth's atmosphere. This was enough to change the cycle of Yersinia pestis bacterium and cause it to develop into something else - the Black Death.
"That one and a half degree difference allowed a small microbe to develop into the Black Death. These are the things we should be hugely worried about."
A UN-backed study has claimed that impacts of climate change will be a lot less extreme if the rises in temperature are capped at 1.5 Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
In theory, curbing levels to 1.5 Celsius is possible, but it will mean dramatic changes to the world we live in and how we lead our lives.
Power generation, construction, transport, and industry will all need overhauls. As will lifestyle factors. For example, eating less meat is definitely on the menu if we want to go down the road signposted "Damage Limitation."
Nation states will also need to sign up to a concrete plan to take excess carbon emissions out of the atmosphere.
Sadly, Professor Frankopan has given us as much chance as a snowball in hell of keeping below the 1.5-degree increase.
Brace yourselves. It's about to get hot!