Global seed vault

Have you heard of the Doomsday Seed Vault?

The Svalbard global seed vault or doomsday seed vault as it is also called is located on Norwegian island of Spitsbergen north, in the permafrost, 1300 kilometers beyond the Arctic Circle, is the world’s largest secure seed storage, opened by the Norwegian Government in February 2008. From across the globe, crates of seeds are sent there for safe and secure long-term storage in cold and dry rock vaults.

It was designed as an impregnable deep-freeze to protect the world’s most precious seeds from any global disaster and ensure humanity’s food supply forever. Sounds like some science fiction movie but this is real. It is said to contain almost a million packets of seeds, each a variety of an important food crop. The deep permafrost through which the vault was sunk was expected to provide foolproof protection against the challenge of natural or man-made disasters.

But guess what? Climate change is messing this up as well. According to the Guardian, this vault has been breached after global warming produced extraordinary temperatures over the winter of 2017, sending melted ice water gushing into the entrance tunnel.

The breach has questioned the ability of the vault to survive as a lifeline for humanity if catastrophe strikes. It was meant to operate without the help of humans, but now the seed vault is being watched 24 hours a day. Åsmund Asdal at the Nordic Genetic Resource Centre, which operates the seed vault, said the vault was supposed to last for eternity.

In 2018, the Verge reported that Norway was to spend $13 million to upgrade its doomsday seed vault to include the construction of a new concrete access tunnel and a service building that will house emergency power and refrigerating units and other electrical equipment that emits heat through the tunnel.

As you can see, we have no control of over nature and cannot stop the effects of climate change from happening, we can only try to adapt and reduce our negative impacts on the environment (mitigation). The global seed vault is an adaptation measure but it’s still at the mercy of nature. It’s man-made and not God made and so cannot withstand the force of nature. We cannot begin fathom the force of nature and so cannot really build against what we do not understand. We have to start acting responsibly or we go extinct.

References

Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Retrieved April 9, 2019 https://www.regjeringen.no/en/topics/food-fisheries-and-agriculture/svalbard-global-seed-vault/id462220/

Arctic stronghold of world’s seeds flooded after permafrost melts. Retrieved April 9, 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/may/19/arctic-stronghold-of-worlds-seeds-flooded-after-permafrost-melts?fbclid=IwAR3XFDtG30agrDXjU2mUVh3P1mBeQJQGQSlp3KFbMYh57NKJYSc2_y9LJV4

Norway will spend $13 million to upgrade its doomsday seed vault. Retrieved April 9, 2019. https://www.theverge.com/2018/2/26/17052690/doomsday-seed-vault-upgrade-13-million

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Obie Agusiegbe

A Certified Environmental Professional with over 18 years in the sector. Focused on collaborations with organizations to provide African communities with access to clean technologies that are climate resilient and meet their basic human needs in an equitable manner.

International Development | Africa | Clean Technologies | Climate Resilience | Humanitarian | Fairness
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