In March of this year, on a remote island near the Arctic Ocean and not far from the North Pole, the Norwegian government opened a vast underground crypt, more than 425-feet deep inside a frozen mountain, declaring it ready to receive shipments of seeds from around the world. This is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a deep-cold storage cavern with room to hold some 4.5 million distinct seed samples.
This seed collection will be the ultimate backup in case we humans do something stupid — like have a worldwide nuclear war, cause massive climate change that wipes out vegetation or fail to manage agriculture carefully. It’s also a hedge against natural catastrophes such as an asteroid strike. Dubbed the “Doomsday Vault,” this seed bank will eventually be the repository of the seeds for almost every variety of food crop known to humankind. The low temperatures in the vault, caused by the natural permafrost and supplemented by a refrigeration system, can preserve the...
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