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Doomsday "Seed Vault" to Save Plant Life from Cataclysmic Event


This fascinates me in a James Bond-ian, "Day After Tomorrow" kind of way, although the prospects of having to use it are terrifying.

The Norwegian government has unveiled plans for a "seed vault" that would house samples from all known varieties of agriculture from around the world, protecting them from "future catastrophes, such as nuclear war, asteroid strikes and climate change" in a frozen, arctic mountain bunker on a remote island in the Barents Sea between Russian and Norway.

SeedvaultplanThe Global Crop Diversity Trust, engineering the project, have taken all things into consideration. Said its director Cary Fowler: "We looked very far into the future. We looked at radiation levels inside the mountain, and we looked at the area's geological structure. We also modelled climate change in a drastic form 200 years into future, which included the melting of ice sheets at the North and South Poles, and Greenland, to make sure that this site was above the resulting water level."

The seed samples will be stored at 0 Fahrenheit, a temperature at which some (sunflowers) will last longer than others (peas).

The facility will not be manned. Added Fowler: "Somebody will go up there once every year to physically check inside to see that everything is OK, but there will be no full-time staff. If you design a facility to be used in worst-case scenarios, then you cannot actually have too much dependency on human beings."

What we need now is a cryogenic chamber to store the world's DNA.

'Doomday' Vault Design Unveiled [bbc]

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  1. "What we need now is a cryogenic chamber to store the world's DNA."

    Try Cher's house : )

    Posted by: Giovanni | Feb 9, 2007 10:21:31 AM

  2. nah, the world loves a new coat.

    Posted by: GBM | Feb 9, 2007 10:47:23 AM

  3. I think it's a great's "life insurance" on a huge scale

    Posted by: tc | Feb 9, 2007 11:01:43 AM

  4. 'What we need now is a cryogenic chamber to store the world's DNA."

    Hell no! If the human race manages to fuck up the world so bad as to wipe out most of ourselves, then we owe it to the planet to just stay dead...lest we do it all over again. ;-)

    Posted by: Patrick W. | Feb 9, 2007 11:41:39 AM

  5. If we manage to blow up the planet, do we really need to save our DNA? We would have destroyed the world once, do we need to populate it again to only destroy it again? Does that sound pesimistic?

    Posted by: James | Feb 9, 2007 12:02:26 PM

  6. This is known as a "white elephant" project.

    Posted by: anon | Feb 9, 2007 12:09:58 PM

  7. I don't remember the specifics, but there are seed repositories/vaults already. Definitely in the U.S. and likely elsewhere. The only reason this is news is the "global warming" spin on it.

    Posted by: DoorHold | Feb 9, 2007 12:29:36 PM

  8. Doorhold

    actualy you are wrong

    yes there are seed banks across the planet but nonw of them store a world wide scale plant species seeds. Nor do seed banks store seed for long period of times. Seed banks are generaly just well vented warehouses.

    Seed vaults do exist in very very very few numbers and they are generaly run by universities and not for the purpose of saving plant species in case of need. They are stored for scientific experiments and do not contain a world wide scale of diferent plant species.

    If you are going to be a cheerleader for Rush Limbaugh's anti-global warming crusade then please get your facts right

    Posted by: jimmyboyo | Feb 9, 2007 12:43:32 PM

  9. I don't know what bothers me more, the fact that the human species has to create a "seed bank" in case we destroy the planet in our arrogance and ignorance as "supreme beings" or that our apathy towards our plight is so widespread...

    Posted by: Cory | Feb 9, 2007 1:08:45 PM

  10. If humans die-off from some catastrophe, who's going to take the seeds out of the vault? And where are they going to store the combination? (Ha!)

    Posted by: anon | Feb 9, 2007 1:18:13 PM

  11. Try Cher's house : )
    Posted by: Giovanni |

    rotfl! good one.

    Posted by: Da | Feb 9, 2007 2:16:50 PM

  12. Anon

    First case scenario is that humanity en masse dies off yet a small fraction survives to one day utilize the seeds. On the locks, just like the tombs of the pharoph's once thought of our descendants will be able to get in.

    Second case scenario that isn't so humancentric....a new species evolves from (the front runers at th emoment) cockroaches and or rats....

    Posted by: jimmyboyo | Feb 9, 2007 4:39:46 PM

  13. How are they going to know the place exists, where it is and get there? How are they going to be able to exploit in any viable way just a handful of seeds per species? I'd think they would be busy just holding on and surviving. It would also be a lot cheaper to put the seeds in orbit high up with some kind of automatic return proceedure if the satellite detects something has gone wrong. The only issue would be radition shielding. Hmmmmm...

    Posted by: anon | Feb 9, 2007 6:08:18 PM

  14. "radiation" shielding

    Posted by: anon | Feb 9, 2007 6:09:07 PM

  15. Actually, there is one that collects seeds, samples of every plant in the world based at Kew Gardens in London (a World Heritage site). It has a vault, though less James Bond villain-style I admit. It's focus is more on cataloguing and preserving the world's plants due to human threats to the environment. I think the site is vulnerable to rising sea levels though.

    Posted by: Ian | Feb 10, 2007 1:06:54 PM

  16. Are we sure this is not some code name for a Noah's Arc their building to house the rich when the world implodes like in the 2012 film? I'm heading there on doomsday lol!

    Posted by: Ben Layvey | Mar 11, 2010 3:42:57 PM

  17. Hey G
    Once was not that funny-
    Twice very boring

    What's your house like?

    Posted by: C | Mar 11, 2010 10:18:50 PM

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