The extraction and combustion of fossil fuels pollute the air we breathe, while the impacts of climate change could actually deprive us of something at least as elemental to life as we know it — the internet. New research published in Earth-Science Reviews warns damage from extreme weather events, and the impacts of melting polar sea ice, could damage transglobal undersea cables.

“Our reliance on cables that are no wider than a garden hose is a surprise to many, who regard satellites as the main means of communication,” lead author Mike Clare said in a statement. “But satellites simply don’t have the bandwidth to support modern digital systems. The ‘cloud’ is not in the sky — it is under the sea.” Damage to undersea cables from specific human activities, like fishing operations and anchor strikes, are far more common than major storms. However, hurricanes and typhoons can inflict greater damage, such as by undermining the stability of the continental shelf, across a much wider area, knocking out cable systems across whole regions. (E&E News)