The end of permafrost

When I was a very young engineer, with a specialty in soil mechanics, I seriously considered going to Alaska to study permafrost because frozen ground behaves neither plastically nor elastically; it would be a rare and distinctive specialty. I decided against it because it meant I’d have to spend the rest of my life living where there is permafrost in order to work — meaning extremely cold climes. It’s a good thing I didn’t, I guess, because the permafrost is disappearing.

The thawing of the permafrost — along with other changes triggered by global warming — is reshaping this incredibly remote region sometimes called the Kingdom of Winter. It is one of the coldest inhabited places on earth, and huge; Yakutia, if independent, would be the world’s eighth largest country.

The loss of permafrost deforms the landscape itself, knocking down houses and barns. The migration patterns of animals hunted for centuries are shifting, and severe floods wreak havoc almost every spring.

The water, washing out already limited dirt roads and rolling corpses from their graves, threatens entire villages with permanent inundation. Waves chew away the less frozen Arctic coastline.

This is the consequence, of course, of dumping tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every day for a hundred years via carbon fuel consumption — global warming, no matter that the FOX News crowd believes otherwise.

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