Thursday, January 12, 2006


Doomsday Vault, Well Guarded

(Via Elizabeth Bear) The Norwegian government, in associating with something called the Global Crop Diversity Trust, is planning to create an underground vault, inside a sandstone mountain lined with permafrost on the Arctic island of Spitsbergen, with meter-thick walls of reinforced concrete, airlocks, and blast-proof doors. The contents? A seed bank representing the products of 10,000 years of plant breeding, that could be used to restart cultivation in the event that some global catastrophe wiped out all agriculture.

This all sounds well and good, and I applaud the thinking. But I can't help but suspect that they're taking the piss. Why? Well, I don't know. How about this? (The gentlemen quoted is Cary Fowler, the director of the aforementioned Global Crop Diversity Trust.)
"[The vault] will not be permanently manned, but 'the mountains are patrolled by polar bears', says Fowler."
That's right. Patrolled by polar bears.

Somewhere, Norwegians are gathered around their monitors, laughing into their cable-knit sweaters that this press release has been picked up by the media. Or else they're huddled behind locked doors, worried that the polar bears are going to get them. It's one or the other, really.

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