The seed vault is designed to hold seeds to all the world’s crops for hundreds or thousands of years. Unless climate change gets in the way.
Buried deep within a mountain in the Arctic Circle is humanity’s insurance policy against the apocalypse. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a collection of almost a million seed packets containing every variety of crop in the world, embedded within a mountain beneath the Arctic permafrost in a container designed to last forever. Or at least, that was the plan.
The exceedingly warm weather over the past several months actually melted enough of the permafrost to cause flooding inside the vault. The soaring temperatures led to heavy rains and flooding in a section of the entrance. Fortunately none of the seeds were compromised.
Melting permafrost flooded the entry tunnel to the seed vault. Seed stores could be at risk if such an event occurs again.
The incident underscores the challenges of future-proofing something as important as a global food source against a wide variety of potential catastrophes. The seed vault is well-protected against a nuclear apocalypse, for instance, but is vulnerable to the less flashy crisis of climate change.
To prevent something like this from happening again, the vault’s managers are taking steps to flood-proof it. They’re digging drainage tunnels, removing some excess electrical equipment, and installed pumps just in case.
Still, the vault is supposed to be able to survive without any human intervention. This sort of flooding could happen again, and next time there might not be any humans around to fix it. If we want our doomsday safeguard to survive for the next few centuries, we’ll need to either reverse global warming completely or come up with some way for our seeds—and maybe ourselves—to survive it.
Source: The Guardian