Not many people have heard about it, the people who have heard about it are divided over conspiracy theories and there are others who think this is completely useless. A few years back some scientists who might have been reading the story of Noah’s Ark came up with an idea, an Idea that they believe will boost the chance of survival in case of a catastrophic event would make plant life disappear from the planet. Well they decided to build a Noah’s Ark for plants, The Global Seed Vault a.k.a The Artic Seed Vault a.k.a. Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a secure seedbank located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen near the town of Longyearbyen in the remote Arctic Svalbard archipelago. The facility was established to preserve a wide variety of plant seeds from locations worldwide in an underground cavern. The seed vault holds duplicate samples, or “spare” copies, of seeds held in genebanks worldwide. The seed vault will provide insurance against the loss of seeds in genebanks, as well as a refuge for seeds in the case of large scale regional or global crises.
Construction of the seed vault, which cost approximately 9 million USD, was funded entirely by the Government of Norway. Storage of seeds in the seed vault is free of charge. Operational costs will be paid by Norway and the Global Crop Diversity Trust. The primary funding of the Trust came from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, United Kingdom, Norway, Australia, Switzerland, and Sweden, though funding has been received from a wide variety of sources including four developing countries: Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia, and India. You can see the video below which shows an entire tour of the vault and the insides.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault said Thursday that it now has 500,000 unique samples to become the most diverse collection of crops in the world. Here is the setup of the vault, and some pictures that Illustrate more details of the Vault.
Descending almost 500 feet under the permafrost, the entrance tunnel to the seed vault is designed to withstand bomb blasts and earthquakes. An automated digital monitoring system controls temperature and provides security akin to a missile silo or Fort Knox. No one person has all the codes for entrance. The Vault is dug into a mountainside near the village of Longyearbyen, Svalbard. Svalbard is a group of islands nearly a thousand kilometres north of mainland Norway. Remote by any standards, Svalbard’s airport is in fact the northernmost point in the world to be serviced by scheduled flights, usually one lands a day. For nearly four months a year the islands are enveloped in total darkness. Permafrost and thick rock ensure that, even without electricity, the samples remain frozen.
So much for the information, the more important question is really what is the event that the government is so looking forward to in order to build this seed bank (the biggest in the world) is it Global Warming ? Cant be, cos the impact would be gradual and the Governments of the world would be preparing in their seed banks the appropriate samples from the individual samples. Could it be a catastrophic from the skies, like the solar flare theories from the Doomsday or even another planet crashing into earth ? Not so sure ! Or are the governments really preparing for the world to end in 2012 which according to the Mayan calendar is coming very soon (2 years give or take). Will the world end on 2012 is a question that I tried answering a while ago, and I was not convinced myself that something like an end of the world phenomenon can happen so suddenly.
However I would like to say, no matter what the Idea of the system is great, however there are a few flaws in the concept as a whole :
- If at all there is a global Phenomenon that wipes out all crops, the humans would go too making it really not so useful to have a seed bank.
- If at all the humans do survive around it would be very difficult to get to the location of the vault as it is really something that would require GPS and other devices to find, considering that it is in the Arctic.
- Well even if we find it, there would be bigger battles fought to get control of the Seed Bank as the person who controls it, would control the future of the planet and hence we humans will fight over the control.
- Making it in an isolated Island around the Artic circle would keep it free from most global level changes, like cyclones, thyphoons etc, but what if there is an avalanche around there and it gets burried under hundreds of meters of snow. Will it be ever found and get reused ?
All in all for the concept to work, there should be another few of these in the world, in a desert, in a tropical forest so that control is decentralised, as well as backup be provided for a facility that is really thinking in terms of global destruction. Can India as a country look for a suitable location for a similar facility, and where would it be located in India are the two questions that I would like to leave you with, think about it and comment if you please, maybe we can convince our governments to actually start working towards this.