Friday, February 09, 2007

Fortress of Solitude Currently Under Construction

This is perhaps the greatest waste of $3 million I have ever heard of. What is the likelihood that a global catastrophe - including, but not limited to, global warming - will wipe out almost all of the world's crops, but not mankind?

An Arctic "doomsday vault" aimed at providing mankind with food in case of a global catastrophe will be designed to sustain the effects of climate change, the project's builders said as they unveiled the architectural plans.

The top-security repository, carved into the permafrost of a mountain in the remote Svalbard archipelago near the North Pole, will preserve some three million batches of seeds from all known varieties of the planet's crops.

The hope is that the vault will make it possible to re-establish crops obliterated by major disasters.

The seed samples, such as wheat and potatoes, will be stored in two chambers located deep inside a mountain, accessed by a 120-meter (395-foot) tunnel. The tunnel and vaults will be excavated by boring and blasting techniques and the rock walls sprayed with concrete.

The seeds will be maintained at a temperature of minus 18 degrees Celsius (minus 0.4 Fahrenheit).

The vault is situated about 130 meters (426 feet) above current sea level. It would not flood if Greenland's ice sheet melts, which some estimate would increase sea levels by seven meters (23 feet).

It is also expected to be safe if the ices of Antarctica completely melt, which experts say could increase sea levels by 61 meters (200 feet).

Are you relieved to know that if sea levels rise 200 feet, there'll still be someplace we can go to get seeds?

And what if the current period of global warming is followed by global cooling - as it has been for, you know - ever. Will we be able to get to the seeds under what might by then be an imposing sheet of ice?

Update: AFP covers this as well.

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