Killer bugs frozen in antartic icecaps- reality or bestselling thriller?

I have not been blogging during the last 6 months of completing my graduate degree, and finding a job at the university as a research associate. After all this bureaucratic mess, I can finally settle down to do some writing…

As an all-time bookworm, I have skimmed through some sci-fi thrillers. One author that really stands out is Daniel Kalla, a bestselling Canadian author in Vancouver who has gained a “force to be reckoned with” reputation. After finishing reading his ultimate page turner “Blood Lies”, I came across a preview of his bestselling novel “Cold Plague”. The “cold” refers to the antarctic icecap under which scientists in this story have discovered a lake the size of Lake Superior, where the pristine water is thought to hold “natural healing powers”. The first chapter describes the scientists’ groundbreaking efforts on drilling into the lake using a special drill that can freeze behind itself as it drills into the ice, and so can keep the lake isolated and contaminant free. However, as the plot moves on, it appears that the lake is not pristine, but is the source of a terrible mad cow disease.

This book is riveting entertainment, and certainly material to be a terrific sci-fi thriller. But would this be something that can happen in reality? I’m not sure about mad cow disease per se, but there is actual scientific literature that the polar icecaps could be a frozen source of pathogens, that upon thawing can be the source of genetic material through which these pathogens can mutate to generate killer bugs. Could global warming increase the thawing of these frozen pathogens to speed up mutations, and so produce killer bugs such as SARS and H1N1 avian flu? Or is this “global warming” scare just a myth? Well, to really answer these questions, I think I should check out the data in literature.
To be continued…

For more information about icecaps and pathogens- refer to this review doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2004.04.004

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