That reindeer Rudolph’s red nose is blinking on and off up at the North Pole this season. It’s blinking out a danger; it’s blinking out a warning; it’s blinking all over the Arctic – as Peter, Paul and Mary might have sung.
Santa is stuck singing the blues. That’s because Rudolph is refusing to pull the jolly fat man’s sleigh. The defiant deer’s red nose is now on the blink – literally. What’s the problem?
By Don Corrigan (Webster-Kirkwood Times)
Turns out Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer is refusing to budge because of the dangers of climate change. Rudolph is concerned about travel to various areas of the world where the tundra is melting, especially in north Siberia in a region known as Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug.
It’s there that Rudolph’s great ancestors died years ago after an anthrax epidemic. As long as these ancient deer carcasses were frozen solid, the dormant bacteria could do no harm. All that changed this summer when record 90 degree temperatures hit Yamal. The icy tundra melted and frozen deer carcasses thawed.
The spores of reanimated anthrax bacteria found new life and thousands of deer bit the dust or, at least, the soggy tundra. About 100 humans in Yamal were infected and sickened, according to the Washington Post.
A bacteriologist at Mizzou told the Columbia Missourian: “Anthrax bacteria are a hardy microbe. The organisms turn into spores in the cold. They play the long game waiting in the soil for temperatures to rise. Once it hits a certain threshold, they morph back into a more mobile infectious state.”
The anthrax outbreak has caused Russian officials to propose a kill off of 250,000 potentially infected deer.
Mass tundra melts? Microbes gone mad? Anthrax awakened? And deer doomed to die? No wonder Rudolph is a little skittish about making Santa’s rounds this Christmas.
Of course, Santa Claus himself has been making some noise about global warming and climate change for more than a few yules. For one thing, Santa can’t get a grip on where he actually lives anymore because the North Pole keeps moving on him.
National Geographic reported on this back in April. Ice loss and glacier melting is redistributing the Earth’s mass, with the result that our planet shifts on its axis toward the direction where mass has been lost. Earth scientists are not in a position just yet to explain any hazards resulting from the pole’s steady drift eastward.
Santa is positioned to explain how melting permafrost causes problems. It’s very difficult to launch a sleigh full of toys on a launching pad that is slushy, mushy, sinking and stinking. Yes, stinking to high heaven! Melting permafrost releases odorous gases and methane – more than Donner and Blitzen will release in a lifetime.
Be warned, climate change deniers. Santa is making a list, and checking it twice, for those who deny scientific facts about global warming. It’s not only Santa who is upset about those in denial. Rudolph’s red nose is out of joint as well – and on the blink.