Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Norwegian "Doomsday Vault"

The Norwegian government, like many people in this country, has been contemplating doomsday. However, rather than worry over trivialities such as heaven, hell, and the state of their immortal (national) soul, the Norwegians have decided to build...a seed bank.

What were you expecting, a bigger studio for Pat Robertson?
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Next year, on an Arctic island, Norway will begin construction on its "doomsday vault." Housed inside a bunker, inside a mountain, the vault will contain all known varieties of the world's crops.

The vault is being constructed on an Arctic island with the rationale being that permafrost will keep the temperature below freezing and ensure the longevity of the seeds. Norway, unlike the United States, has ratified the Kyoto protocol so I assume that they have acknowledged the reality of global warming and factored in rising Arctic temperatures.

Although the BBC article gives no indication who thought up this idea it's not a bad one. In case of a global calamity, provided that life is not totally obliterated, such a reserve could prove invaluable.

But the idea is also mildly unnerving? Does the Norwegian government know something we don't or, more likely, are they simply reading the same newspapers and drawing their own (not implausible) conclusions about the future of humankind?

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