Tuesday, February 26, 2008

DISASTER PLANNING 101: Doomsday Vault Installed In Arctic Mountain

It sounds like something from a science fiction film, but its not. Norway is has built a giant doomday vault. It is to be a repository for seeds so that future humans will be able to grow food in the event of a global catastrophy (2012?). The Svalbard Global Seed Vault was to be officially inaugurated on Tuesday, about a year after crews started drilling in Norway's Svalbard archipelago, about 600 miles from the North Pole. Construction started in April last year. Norway owns the vault but countries sending seeds will own the material they deposit.
The vault is designed to withstand earthquakes and even a direct nuclear strike, said construction leader Magnus Bredeli-Tveiten. Even if power systems failed, the permafrost around the vault would help keep the seeds cold for 200 years even in the worst case climate scenario. The vault's life span is expected to rival that of Egypt's ancient pyramids.
The vault's seed collection, made up of duplicates of those already held at other seed banks, will reflect the work of some 10,000 years of plant breeding by the world's farmers. Though most are no longer widely planted, the varieties contain vital genetic traits still regularly used in plant breeding. These seeds will be used in the future to engineer new seeds that are expected to be planted. The World's Most Secure Gene Bank
Project completion comes at a time of growing concern about the safety of existing seed banks world wide. Many have been criticised for their poor security, faulty refrigeration and vulnerable power backups. In the late 1980s, terrorists ransacked an international potato seed bank in the Peruvian Andes. War wiped out seed banks in Iraq and Afghanistan, and one in the Philippines was flooded in a typhoon in 2006, So, what disaster are we getting ready for next?
by J. Mark Soveign

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