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Doomsday Vault

Update: Forgot to mention Wei sent this link to me.

The Norwegian government is building a giant vault inside solid rock to house millions of seeds in case the world ends, and we need seeds to start growing our own food.

Crop seeds are the source of human sustenance, the product of 10,000 years of selective breeding dating to the dawn of agriculture. The "doomsday vault," as some have come to call it, is to be the ultimate backup in the event of a global catastrophe -- the go-to place after an asteroid hit or nuclear or biowarfare holocaust so that, difficult as those times would be, humankind would not have to start again from scratch.
The Norwegian government is paying for the facility's construction -- an estimated $3 million, with about half of that for the concrete alone, which must be shipped. After that, annual operating expenses are expected to be $200,000 at first, dropping to $100,000 by year three. The trust has established an endowment that so far has $50 million of the $260 million that will be needed to sustain operations without depleting its principal. Contributions have come from about a dozen countries as well as foundations, seed companies and others.

But guess which one country that signed the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture is not yet ready to actually go along with it? C'mon. You can guess. What country regularly ignores or reneges on treaties? I know. There are so many to choose from...

If you guessed the United States, then you guessed right!!! Yay for you!!

The United States has signed the treaty, but the Senate has not ratified it.

You know what the treaty's governing board has done to get more cooperation from nations? They will allow nations to maintain their patent protections on seeds they donate.

Oh, well, that's different, then. As long as we can keep the patent on our seeds, you can have them. Wouldn't want to lose out on any profits to be had when Armeggeddon comes and survivors want to plant our seeds for food. I'll be damned if they want to get away with that survival stuff for free. Forget that the world monetary won't exist as it does today should Armeggeddon befall us. They'll have something to trade for the privilege of planting our patent protected seeds, or by God, we'll sue them!

By min | June 19, 2006, 1:32 PM | Liberal Outrage & Science


OK, I think I should point out a few problems this system might have. First off, we're going to have to assume that a group of humans large enough to have a gene pool sufficient for breeding survives (because if we're all dead, no one will be left to care anyway). Unless you happen to be a scientist working on this project, a member of a government working on this project, or the poor sap caught on guard duty in the vault when everything goes kablooey, you're not going to know where to find the vault.

Actually, until you posted this, I didn't even know there was a vault. And I bet most other people don't either.

I also notice that "security" is a big issue for these people. So I have this mental image of a rag-tag group of post-apocalyptic humans trekking across vast wastelands of ice and snow, braving the dangerous and possibly toxic terrain, fending off wild bloosthirsty beasts, and after an arduous journey only to reach the vault door and have the one guy at the front say:

"Hey, does anyone know the combination to this vault door?"

Cause, you know, you've gots to have that security.

Also, does humanity have to get there in, say, 4-5 years before all the seeds get freezerburn and are no longer viable? They do mention that the seeds need to be changed out in the article, so I assume that they have a shelf life.

And finally, let me address this unsettling issue that I have lodged in the back of my head. When this "doomsday vault" is finally finished, will the bureaucrats of the world look at each other across that giant mahogany table that you know they have and say:

"Hey, we spent all that money on a doomsday vault. Don't we have to, you know, justify our expenditure?"

Actually, now that I think about it, that's exactly how I envision the end of the world. That, and the old episodes of "Fist of the North Star".

sounds like rob wants a post-apocalyptic movie marathon.

Great Idea! Make sure to include "Damnation Alley"!

was kevin costner in that film?

No, but George Peppard was. Remember Hannibal from the A-Team?