Did you hear about the Global Seed Vault (aka, the Doomsday Vault, the Garden of Eden, the Noah’s Ark—take your pick) that opened yesterday on an Arctic mountain in Norway? The idea is that if a flood, war, or nuclear attack were to wipe us out, our agricultural history would be lost—though something tells me that would be secondary to massive hunger pangs. The idea is to preserve our biodiversity; nations around the world have contributed seeds to this library, of sorts, so that we might have the ability to plant crops. I think it would just mean the rebirth of King Corn and partially hydrogenated diets for a new generation, but hey, I’m cynical.
The Boston Globe had a nice picture essay online yesterday that showed the vault poking out of the side of an island mountain, which, officials assure us, would not be affected by global warming. Uh huh. Anyway, the fortress involves high security measures, as evidenced by a guard photographed just before the opening ceremonies, which got me thinking: One, what did police work in the Arctic look like before the vault? And two, I might not be around when the permafrost becomes less…permanent, but I hope somebody is there to record it, because in my mind’s eye, I envision thousands of little seed packets floating out the door, headed for the open ocean.
Mostly though, it’s kind of cool. I thought it was original too, until I read that there are already about 1,400 other seed banks out there (someone’s thinking!), though none are in a climate as cold as this one that naturally preserves the seeds. War has even destroyed a couple seed banks in Iraq and Afghanistan (because it’s not enough to take life; we have to take even the potential for life).
This is the official website in case you want to send in your heirloom tomato seeds.