Here’s How to Make Climate Change Extra Scary – Facts So Romantic

Thirty thousand years ago, a woolly mammoth in Siberia shed a giant virus. It soon became encased in ice and, for tens of thousands of years, the virus slept.

As global temperatures warm and the permafrost begins to melt, the virus stirs. It is sucked into the nostril of a researcher where it injects its DNA into a cell. The DNA commandeers the cell’s proteins and generates new viruses, turning the researcher into a walking pathogen factory. As she interacts with people, the virus swarms around the world, infecting millions and causing devastation on a massive scale.

Alex Tihonov/Getty Images

Such a scenario isn’t yet a reality, but it may be closer than you think.

Jean-Michel Claverie, a microbiologist at Aix-Marseilles University in Provence, could have caused this scenario twice. In 2014, Claverie thawed a small sample of Siberian permafrost in a petri dish and discovered a dormant virus that, upon reawakening, could infect amoebas. Then, in September, Claverie and his team published another study on a second virus discovered in the same sample. In a terse nod to doomsday, the researchers noted that—in the context of global warming—the revival of two separate viruses in ancient permafrost…

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