Another Day, Another Alarm: The ‘Time-Travelling’ Pathogen Paranoia

Grab your popcorn, folks! The curtain is up and we’re being treated to the latest in a long line of climate alarmist productions: the tale of ancient, frozen pathogens wreaking havoc on our unsuspecting modern world. According to a new study published in PLOS Computational Biology, these ‘time-travelling’ pathogens could emerge from the melting ice and permafrost due to climate change, posing significant threats to ecosystems and humanity itself.

Climate change could hasten the release of ‘time-travelling’ pathogens from melting permafrost and ice that have been trapped for millennia. Their emergence increases threats to the global environment and even humanity itself.

While melting glaciers and permafrost risk the re-emergence of many types of dormant pathogens, the potential destruction to modern ecosystems posed by these microbes has been difficult to predict.

According to Dr. Giovanni Strona, lead author of the study,

“The scientific debate on the topic has been dominated by speculation, due to the challenges in collecting data or designing experiments to elaborate and test hypotheses. For the first time, we provide an extensive analysis of the risk posed to modern ecological communities by these ‘time-travelling’ pathogens through advanced computer simulations.”

The researchers have run some impressive-sounding digital simulations, pitting modern microbial communities against their ancient counterparts and observing the ensuing chaos.

Of course, the inevitable doomsday results are presented. The study reveals that

“about 1% of those invaders presented unpredictable results — some caused up to one third of the host species to die out, while others increased diversity by up to 12% compared to the simulations where escape was not permitted.”

For the uninitiated, it might sound like we’re on the cusp of an ecological apocalypse. But for those who’ve seen this show before, it’s the same old fear-mongering script dressed up with different props.

As is so often the case, the devil is in the details. These “computer simulations” are just that – simulations, not reality. As all mathematicians and scientists worth their salt know, any model is only as good as its inputs and assumptions. Simulating the interactions of long-dormant pathogens with modern ecosystems involves countless variables and uncertainties.

Flinders University Professor Corey Bradshaw furthers the climate catastrophe narrative by suggesting that the release of these pathogens is “not negligible” and warns that

“in the worst, but still entirely plausible case, the invasion of a single ancient pathogen reduced the size of its host community by 30% when compared to our non-invasive controls.”

Yet he conveniently fails to mention the wide range of outcomes these simulations produced, focusing solely on the ‘worst-case’ scenarios that fuel the most fear.

Interestingly, the researchers admit that the risks from these pathogens might seem small, given that they are based on just 1% of their simulations. However, they quickly follow this concession with an attempt to amplify fear by asserting that

“given the sheer number of ancient microbes regularly released into modern communities, these outbreaks represent a substantial danger.”

While they don’t specifically mention it, this is another case of Climate Alarmists using the logic of Pascal’s Wager in policy debates. What these “scientists” fail to appreciate when accepting the logic of the wager, is that in order to be logically consistent they now must attend church religiously and become pious Christians. You can’t pick and choose when you apply the logic. It either is valid or it isn’t.

Are these so-called ‘time-travelling’ pathogens really the significant threat we’re being led to believe, or just another piece in the alarmist puzzle, designed to generate fear and secure more funding for climate-related research?

Science should not be a tool for manipulation and alarmist propaganda. We must demand better from those who seek to inform us, insisting they do so in a manner that respects the complexities and uncertainties inherent in their work, rather than resorting to simplified scare tactics.

Readers, what are your thoughts on this latest climate alarmist tale? Drop your comments below.


PLoS Computational Biology




Computational simulation/modeling




Time-travelling pathogens and their risk to ecological communities

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Tom Halla
July 30, 2023 6:08 am

Yet more computer games.

Reply to  Tom Halla
July 30, 2023 7:44 am

Hard at work.

D Boss
July 30, 2023 6:21 am

I love the image at the top, it reminds of a now ancient science fiction television series called “The Time Tunnel” by scifi and disaster movie icon Irwin Allen: (The Time Tunnel: Irwin Allen’s Fantastic One Season Wonder)
So it’s an appropriate image, as this paper too is science fiction!

Reply to  D Boss
July 30, 2023 6:58 am

Don’t forget Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea which was a continuation of the movie of the same name. Ironically, Admiral Nelson had to save the Earth from the burning atmosphere by detonating a nuclear tipped missile into the Stratosphere. And the UN wanted to stop him.

Lee Riffee
Reply to  D Boss
July 30, 2023 7:57 am

Speaking of movies and TV shows – the first that came to my mind when reading this article was the old 1950’s sci-fi classic (and its also now classic 1980’s remake) The Thing. Yep, the same old sci-fi trope: scientists exploring the polar regions awaken some sort of ancient or alien organism that then wreaks havoc on them (and threatens the rest of humanity). Other versions have had frozen alien saucers, infected meteorites and even frozen alien bodies. The long running TV show the X-Files also dedicated some screen time to the notion of long frozen alien artifacts being dug from the ice.
And that’s exactly what this is – just sci-fi. Makes for a fun night at the movies but not wasting a “scientific” paper on such notions.

Peta of Newark
July 30, 2023 6:25 am

“””You can’t pick and choose when you apply the logic.

Attention Seeking Spoilt Brat Children can – and they do.

July 30, 2023 6:27 am

The world has gone through multiple interglacials without humans (or our predecessors) getting wiped out by ‘time-travelling’ pathogens or even causing a severe population bottleneck detectable in our genome.

I strongly suspect we’ll be fine. Maybe it’s just the optimist in me.

Reply to  Tommy2b
July 30, 2023 6:51 am

I was thinking the same thing! there’s been many glaciers that have retreated in the past few decades and there hasn’t been any related disease outbreak. Spanish flu actually originated in the US, and COVID out of China – no where near a glacier or where one had retreated. How can they model something that they haven’t studied? I can measure the way heat moves through say the classic thermodynamic experiment where one end of a metal rod is heated by a flame of a certain output and the other end chilled by a huge block of ice. I can take the temperature every few seconds at each point on the rod, and generate a series of graphs.

Then, I will have something to compare to when I sit down and write up a computer program to mimic the same phenomenon.

How do these so-called experts have the nerve to make predictions with out any basis?

They are one step lower than some loon on the street crying “the end is near”.

Reply to  PCman999
July 30, 2023 11:48 am

Spanish Flu did not originate in the US. That myth was shown preposterously false decades ago.

British medical records and samples showed the virus existed in France at least in 1916. Its place of origin remains controversial. France and China have been suggested. Even Canadian wildfowl have been cited as a possible source, but a US army camp has been conclusively ruled out.

Supporters of the Kansas hypothesis fought back in 2004, but lost.

Reply to  Milo
July 30, 2023 12:11 pm
July 30, 2023 6:29 am

Lick your finger and hold it up to see which way the wind is blowing…

Aka an advanced computer model

Reply to  strativarius
July 30, 2023 7:45 am

Strativarius – are you having issues logging into gridwatch UK? Since yesterday I’ve been getting certificate not valid alerts when trying to log into the website – unsure if it’s in maintenance or the blob have taken it down!

Reply to  Energywise
July 30, 2023 7:48 am

I haven’t been there recently, but I’ve never logged in there

Reply to  Energywise
July 30, 2023 7:56 am

Tried it on a Mac, just now, same issue; ignored the “fix” of fixing the clock so that it was yesterday as the certificate “ran out” one day ago. The world has not ended with me viewing it against Safari’s warning…

Reply to  Energywise
July 30, 2023 2:59 pm

Just been on … all OK

general custer
July 30, 2023 6:48 am

Pascal’s wager concerns the existence of God. God’s existence doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s a Hell that will be reserved for unbelievers or a Heaven for the virtuous faithful, a different matter.

Climate change is a fact based on history, which includes ice sheets a mile thick over North America just a few thousand years ago. Their disappearance had nothing to do with any animal activity. The question is, will eliminating a small increase of atmospheric CO2 at immense expense actually eliminate “global warming” and will that expense produce an acceptable outcome for the planet’s residents? A sensible bet would be “No”.

Rich Davis
Reply to  general custer
July 30, 2023 7:52 am

The essence of Pascal’s Wager is balancing infinite gain or loss against finite loss or gain. (The opportunity for eternal happiness balanced against foregoing some temporal pleasures and the risk of eternal torment balanced against enjoying those forbidden pleasures).

Applying the idea to climate change and zombie pathogens is illogical since that is a question not involving anything infinite. It is no different from deciding to drive to work and get paid and being able to enjoy life even though there is a possibility that a drunk worker driving a fully laden cement mixer will plow through a red light into the side of your car and you’ll die.

We make that sort of decision daily. A tiny probability of a complete loss is easy to balance against a nearly 100% probability of a lucrative outcome. A tiny probability of an infinite outcome is infinite. It is not comparable. Pascal’s Wager can’t be applied in this case.

July 30, 2023 7:03 am

They are obviously unaware the polar regions have been bereft of ice before – glaciers are periodically advancing then retreating, it is natures way

July 30, 2023 7:27 am

Not just computer simulations. Advanced computer simulations. The best of the best. Or something.

Steve Case
Reply to  barryjo
July 30, 2023 7:45 am

Not just computer simulations. Advanced computer simulations.”


New and improved

Reply to  Steve Case
July 30, 2023 7:57 am

New and improved data/input manipulation…..?

Steve Case
Reply to  186no
July 30, 2023 8:20 am

Tail fins

Steve Case
Reply to  Steve Case
July 30, 2023 8:51 am

New and Improved:

New and Improved.jpg
John Oliver
Reply to  Steve Case
July 30, 2023 1:28 pm

I love those things, the little winglets thingys really excite me.

Reply to  barryjo
July 30, 2023 8:24 pm


Joseph Zorzin
July 30, 2023 7:34 am

“Climate change could hasten the release of ‘time-travelling’ pathogens…”

Time to stop when you see the word “could”. Heck, climate change could hasten the release of frozen werewolves and vampires! Hey, it COULD happen.

Rud Istvan
July 30, 2023 7:39 am

Well, I went and read the paper. Sillier than Charles imagined.

From the abstract concerning time travel pathogen invasion: “whether and how is unclear…, and existing data are too scarce to test hypotheses.” Translation they got real world nothing.

So, they isolated digital virus like ‘pathogens’ from past records of coevolved artificial life communities and studied their invasion into future states of the community.

From methods: two sets of 1100 ‘community’ runs each of 250,000 evolutionary steps. In second set introduce an early evolved pathogen from first set into second set randomly from step 150,000 to 200,000 in 5% of the random 2500 to 15000 cell sized communities, then see what happens by end 250,000 steps.

From results: in only 1.1% of the 1100 second set community runs did anything at all happen. And that was from a -32% community diversity reduction to a +12% diversity community increase. In most runs the ‘pathogen’ simply died out by 30000 steps. OOPS.

And from that puny ‘artificial life’ result we are supposed to be afraid?

Reply to  Rud Istvan
July 30, 2023 7:49 am

They’re gamers

July 30, 2023 7:40 am

Speaking of viruses – is anyone else having problems logging into the grid watch uk site? It has been throwing up certificate not valid alerts since yesterday – not sure if it’s in maintenance, or the Ministry of Truth blob have taken it down?

Reply to  Energywise
July 30, 2023 7:52 am

Looks like its been hacked

Reply to  Energywise
July 30, 2023 2:22 pm

working for me. Perhaps they just didn’t renew their certificate on time?

assuming it’s

Reply to  Energywise
July 31, 2023 3:00 am

I’ve had no problems. (Linux Ubuntu)

July 30, 2023 7:41 am

Climate change could hasten the release of ‘time-travelling’ pathogens from melting permafrost and ice that have been trapped for millennia. Their emergence increases threats to the global environment and even humanity itself.

On the other hand, the “time-travelling” pathogens may emerge and, say “shit, the mammoths are all dead”, and die off.

Where’s my share of the research fund?

July 30, 2023 7:48 am

The permafrost line has moved from the location of the Canada-US border to the Arctic circle over the last 10,000 years. Has it occurred to these researchers that they aren’t seeing anything that hasn’t happened 10,000 times before ?
Also the likelihood of sample contamination by modern day worms and insects is very high….so is the publish or perish incentive.

July 30, 2023 7:50 am

Pascal’s wager applies to all gods, not just the Christian god, which is why it’s such a poor wager. Guess you’re not getting into Valhalla, neener neener nyaaaah! <j/k>

On a more serious note, if our ancestors survived it, we will too. I’d be more worried if the Wuhan lab started publishing papers on airborne Ebola…

Joseph Zorzin
July 30, 2023 7:51 am

And it’s not just microbes that can survive being frozen for long periods.

Genome analysis of 46,000-year-old roundworm from Siberian permafrost reveals novel species

Some organisms, such as tardigrades, rotifers, and nematodes, can survive harsh conditions by entering a dormant state known as ‘cryptobiosis.’ In 2018, researchers found two roundworms (nematode) species in the Siberian Permafrost. Radiocarbon dating indicated that the nematode individuals have remained in cryptobiosis since the late Pleistocene, about 46,000 years ago. Researchers have now used genome sequencing, assembly, and phylogenetic analysis and found that the permafrost nematode belongs to a previously undescribed species, Panagrolaimus kolymaensis.

Amazingly, no fear mongering that the nematodes might threaten mankind. Of course, soon I expect climate alarmists to make such a claim. I expect a cover of Unscientific Unamerican (designed by AI) to show nematodes invading our homes. After all, they COULD grow much larger and they COULD change their diet so they’ll burrow into your skin and drink your blood. That COULD happen, so we ought to spend a few trillion to stop them.

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
July 30, 2023 11:05 am

In the words of your generic Libertarian, “Everybody dies. No exceptions. So if you eliminate the Number One cause of death, something else becomes Number One, it has to, because everybody dies.”

Reply to  Red94ViperRT10
July 30, 2023 1:25 pm

Reminds me of the debate about outlawing cigarettes. They calculated that cigarettes would cause X cases of lung cancer per year, and the average cost incurred by someone who died of lung cancer was , therefore cigarettes cost society X times Y dollars per year. Therefore the tax on cigarettes should be Z per pack.

What they ignored was what you point out, everyone dies of something, and that those somethings will also cost money. Some of those somethings could even cost more than lung cancer does. Beyond that, pension plans and funds such as social security don’t have to pay out as much money because some people die younger.

It is scientific, and actuarial, misconduct to only include those factors that support your case.

Hoyt Clagwell
July 30, 2023 7:54 am

In the immortal words of former US surgeon general Jocelyn Elders: “and we will all probably die with something, sooner or later.’

Tom in Florida
July 30, 2023 8:07 am

I ran my homemade model this morning, it tells me to buy Pfizer stock because it may come about that we are going to be mandated to take the next generation of “vaccines” to combat these pathogens.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Tom in Florida
July 30, 2023 1:32 pm

I read yesterday where an antibody has been discovered that can be used against all versions of the covid virus.

Rich Davis
July 30, 2023 8:08 am

Can we say for sure that there was not some deadly virus that mutated in the far north during the last glaciation and wiped out life in an isolated region? Could it be that it was preserved in a dead host whose corpse froze and never subsequently melted until today? Could such a virus be released and spread by a scavenging animal ultimately unleashing a deadly human pandemic?

The probability is not zero. Who knows what Tony Fauci was up to 47,000 years ago!

Reply to  Rich Davis
July 30, 2023 1:28 pm

He doesn’t look a day over 45,000.

Rich Davis
Reply to  MarkW
July 30, 2023 2:28 pm

I know, right?

July 30, 2023 8:13 am

It just gets dafter and dafter! But that’s what the people who promote this idiocy are like…

July 30, 2023 8:26 am

I’m more worried about the affect of these so-called scientists than I am on potential pathogen releases due to make-believe climate catastrophe.

Rich Davis
July 30, 2023 9:26 am

Let’s not forget the lessons of Tomorrow War people! There could be frozen “white spike” aliens in suspended animation that will melt out any day now and relentlessly attack us unless we shut down the economy and eliminate capitalism NOW!!

I’m super cereal. Why won’t anybody listen?

Walter Sobchak
July 30, 2023 10:02 am

Who needs time traveling pathogens when we have the Wuhan Institute of Virology funded by St. Anthony Fauci to custom manufacture diseases for us?

Read this: and demand a Grand Jury.

July 30, 2023 10:03 am

In 2009, Daniele Fanelli conducted a survey demonstrating that at least 72 percent of researchers were willing to somehow distort their research results. And that doesn’t even count the unintentional calculation mistakes and other errors, this is the $tory about when the 1 percent becomes 99% as it i$ in this loop-hole in to the future case.

“CC” maybe can cause blindness … GW became (A)GW then Climate Changes and Climate Crisis … now, Global Boiling, I could be wrong, I therefore need to study the topic a little bit more, “$how me the money”.

July 30, 2023 10:04 am

Okay let’s assume that they’re right and bacteria, viruses and parasites are released from the melting permafrost.
This raises several questions:
1) could they be viable?
2) would they be pathogenic (cause disease) for humans?
3) would our immune system recognise them?

Parasites may or may not be viable.
Bacteria could be viable and may be able to replicate.
Viruses require a viable host to replicate.
They could be pathogenic but not necessarily.

Depending when in history they were frozen could determine whether our immune system would recognise them. Personally, I suspect that we may have T cell receptors and B cell receptors that would bind at least partially to them in our adaptive immune system. Certainly I suspect that our innate immune system would be able to recognise the bacteria.
With regards to any viruses, they would only be able to infect cells if they can attach to receptors on the cell membrane. It’s feasible that older viruses don’t have the necessary antigens to enter cells. If the viruses do have antigens that enables them to enter cells then we’re likely to have T and B cells that will recognise an infected cell.

July 30, 2023 10:21 am

One of the proposed advantage of living in the far north is supposed to be decreased pathogens – less insect carried things like malaria, less bacteria producing diarrhea, ect. The primary risk being worms from inadequately cooked meat and fish.

July 30, 2023 10:26 am

Remarkable how they depend on the words, “could, might, possible, simulations show,” to try and terrify low information people. They must be running out of reality .

July 30, 2023 10:33 am

Most of the currently melting permafrost already melted during the Minoan climate optimum circa 3500 years ago which was some 4°C warmer than today : and nothing happened except that manking prospered. So this time-travelling pathogen fantasy is complete BS.

John Oliver
July 30, 2023 1:57 pm

This is a little off topic , but with all the threats from tyrannical government, deep state and globalist types and now rogue resurrected pathogens- well I am looking to start a new country. I hear there are some viable islands off the coast of Norway and Pitcairn island in the Pacific is looking for new inhabitants. Any other suggestions?

July 30, 2023 2:16 pm

You can’t pick and choose when you apply the logic. It either is valid or it isn’t.

Pascal’s Wager is full of unstated assumptions. Believing that “God exists” does not implicitly mean that the rest of the particular mythology of some time and place is in any way valid. The nonsense about hell and damnation, or a belief that there is any kind of supernatural reward for certain behaviors, are akin to IPCC Summarys for Policy Makers, based on extreme RPSs and SSPs. If God exists, whatever that means, there is no way to go forward from that assumption without making all sorts of other assumptions that your darkest fantasies actually reveal the unknowable.

July 30, 2023 2:23 pm

Nice! Got a filter for edit spam now!

July 30, 2023 7:56 pm

Do any of these geniuses ever bother to ask or consider how these pathogens were supposedly trapped beneath the tundra in the first place? It must have been pretty warm back in those times for organic materials to grow and then be trapped under frozen tundra.

John Hultquist
July 30, 2023 10:21 pm

When your department or a grant buys new computers you had better use it and publish a paper or two or three. That, then, justifies flying off to a conference to report your results where you can learn of new gadgets to buy. Then, you go back and ask the Dean for more money for the new and improved whatever. That your work is meaningless and no one cares is beside the point. Your curriculum vitae gets another entry.

July 31, 2023 4:56 am

Being a Darwinist myself, isn’t it more logical that the existing “pathogens” that are present and robustly living today would annihilate those frozen pathogens due to their relative fitness? I would say the chances are much greater that this would happen than what the alarmist researchers present here.

August 1, 2023 10:41 pm


Computational simulation/modeling”

“Computational simulation/modeling” equals self indulgent self delusional fantasies.

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