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Norway to Build Doomsday Seed Bank 273

Posted by Zonk
from the there-will-be-cabbage-after-the-crash dept.
Kagu writes "According to the BBC, Norway is planning to build a Seed Bank in the Artic Permafrost to protect all known variations of seeds in case of worldwide disaster." From the article: "Mr Hawtin said there were currently about 1,400 seed banks around the world, but a large number of these were located in countries that were either politically unstable or that faced threats from the natural environment."
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Norway to Build Doomsday Seed Bank

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@@@gmail...com> on Friday January 13, 2006 @07:39PM (#14468225) Journal
    This article reminds me of a short story [phpsolvent.com] I once read by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. I think it's from his book Palm Sunday.

    Anyways, the world is dying because the resources were squandered by humans. As a last resort, we package our genetic material into the nose cone of a rocket and fire it blindly into space (colder than the artic tundra).

    Would it be such a bad idea to launch seeds into outer space to orbit the world just in case? I mean, they have to be worth something to us, right?

    From the article:
    Permafrost will keep the vault below freezing point and the seeds will further be protected by metre-thick walls of reinforced concrete, two airlocks and high security blast-proof doors.
    I hope there's a foot of lead included in that shielding somewhere. To me that would seem the most vital shielding they could provide.
    • by s20451 (410424) on Friday January 13, 2006 @07:46PM (#14468288) Journal
      The nice thing about having them on the ground is that you can get at them easily, even if civilization collapses. Which is pretty likely if all the crops die and there's no more food.
      • Or if you just need a few varieties because some local variety of a plant went extict due to local conditions, like the spill into the Harbin river. (not saying I know of a plant that went extict due to this... just some might have).
      • I dunno, this seems a bit silly all round. I mean if there is a catastrophe sufficient to wipe out all seed and food crops in the world, or at least within easy reach, it's not very likely that there will be a whole lot of anything or anybody else to replant and eat said food crops. On top of that, its fairly safe to assume the disaster would have pretty much erased whole ecosystems; are the food crops sufficient to maintain a viable ecosystem by themselves? Kind of a waste of money, really.

        • Not silly at all. (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Teun (17872)
          It does not need a complete collaps of the worlds life to make certian crops suddenly needing an infusion of clean genes.

          The past few years we've seen universities trying very hard to find old races/ strains of for example apple trees because the present ones seem to be more suspect to pests than it used to be.

          • There have been a few times where diseases and plagues have almost removed almost all of a certain plant.

            Dutch Elm disease.

            Most all grape vines were destroyed by blight in Europe and actually come from vines in the United States.

            The SouthEast used to be covered with deciduous trees and not these ugly southern pines -- a lot more Black Walnut -- which is now pretty rare.

            Anywho -- this project makes a lot of sense. Some species could become extinct while we are preoccupied -- either with a large war or while
        • A really big rock hitting the earth would do that, while still allowing humans to survive as there's always someone deep underground somewhere.
      • If civilization collapses how are we going to get to/from the arctic?
      • Spitzbergen isn't exactly the most accessable location if you don't have either pretty good winter transport tech, or people experienced with sled dogs (where is Roald Amundsen when you need him??) Tho if anyone is likely to be able to get to it after the world crashes, it's the Norse.

        Tho I did have the thought... what if there's a disaster that dumps a hundred feet of snow atop the seed bank??

        OTOH, in that location it should be pretty well protected from the starving hordes who are foolish enough to eat al
    • Yeah, seeds in the orbit will really help if we regress to the stage we don't even have any more seeds to plant!
    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday January 13, 2006 @07:54PM (#14468367) Homepage Journal
      AFAIK seeds don't last forever, which is why seed banks periodically replant and harvest seeds. I remember this coming up with some marijuana seeds (no joke) at some conservatory in Russia or something. Might be a good thing to search for on smokedot, if it wasn't using slashcode with its attendant super-shit search tool.
    • by Dunbal (464142) on Friday January 13, 2006 @07:58PM (#14468388)
      Would it be such a bad idea to launch seeds into outer space to orbit the world just in case?

            Cosmic radiation can play havoc with DNA over time. You'd have to shield that thing pretty good (read a lot of increased mass). Not to mention this stuff must weigh a heck of a lot if you include a sample of ALL life forms plus the containers (petri dishes, test tubes, whatever). Added to the fact that the most likely outcome that this "ark" is likely to be vaporized by the first asteroid/moon/planet it happens to collide with makes it an unlikely "safe" place.

            The smartest thing we can hope to do probably is map out the DNA for every endangered species, in the hope that one day we will be advanced enough to synthesize this DNA again "de novo" in a lab and bring the species "back" if we ever need it.
      • by Anthracene (126183) on Friday January 13, 2006 @09:35PM (#14468942) Homepage
        The smartest thing we can hope to do probably is map out the DNA for every endangered species, in the hope that one day we will be advanced enough to synthesize this DNA again "de novo" in a lab and bring the species "back" if we ever need it.

        This probably wouldn't be enough. Although in a sense an organism's DNA has all the information needed to construct the organism, the DNA sequence is just a string of data. Construction of the organism requires (very, very complex) interaction between this data string and a "reader" (the cell). While the fundamental code of the DNA (translation to proteins) is fairly consistent across most organisms, the regulatory mechanisms (among other things) which are essential for life vary pretty widely. If you had cells from a closely related organism, you might be able to make it work, but then if you had a closely related organism, it probably wouldn't be so important in the first place.

        An (admittedly poor) analogy: If you had a single jpeg file and no knowledge of the jpeg format, how easy would it be to recreate the original image?

        Anyway, my point is that it's important to keep in mind that there may be as much information content in the "reader" as in the the "data", even when the data has enough information for the "reader" to construct duplicate "readers".
    • This article reminds me of a short story I once read by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. I think it's from his book Palm Sunday.

      Yes, I read that one in (I think) the second Dangerous Visions collection. I wonder what he was driving at with the obvious dig at Arthur Clarke?

      I hope there's a foot of lead included in that shielding somewhere. To me that would seem the most vital shielding they could provide.

      I think they should build huge space ships with clusters of geodesic domes attached to them with artificial gravity p

    • by ugmoe (776194) on Friday January 13, 2006 @08:04PM (#14468436)
      Permafrost will keep the vault below freezing point and the seeds will further be protected by metre-thick walls of reinforced concrete, two airlocks and high security blast- proof doors.

      Sounds like a challenge!

      I'm forming a high skills mercenary team to go in and get those seeds.

      I'll need an Olympic level biathlete , a demolitions expert, a Harrier pilot, a (preferably beautiful) horticulturist, an eskimo, a fence, and possibly an astronaut and/or a Mason.

      Equal Opportunity Employer

    • Hidden vault... hopefully Geraldo will be around to find and open it for us ;-)... You may need to be an old fart to get this.
    • by jesterzog (189797) on Friday January 13, 2006 @08:23PM (#14468563) Homepage Journal

      Anyways, the world is dying because the resources were squandered by humans.

      I can't claim to be an expert on this, but I was actually thinking that such a seed bank could be quite relevant in a potential disaster that's probably less obvious than simply squandering resources. In particular, a large amount of food production, especially in the developed world (I don't know about other places), is essentially dictated by a small number of massive corporations which are very specific about what crops they'll grow.

      A good example is with potatoes -- there are about 200 different varieties of potato, but my understanding is that only four or five of them are seriously grown on a large scale in the US. Some of the former varieties are probably extinct by now, or close to it, simply because their original habitats have been wiped out and nobody grows them. Everyone's growing the same thing, everyone's eating the same thing, and there's very little variety.

      Someone can correct me on this if they know otherwise. My point is, though, that the lack of variety that's generally encouraged when a small number of corporations control it, makes it much more lokely that a disease or other biological threat could just wipe the whole lot out.

      Keeping a seed bank would be one way to make sure that the older varieties remain available if it ever becomes very important to retrieve them in the future. Reading the article, it seems that this is probably the sort of thing they're thinking about.

      • That and the effects of both genetically modified and traditionally cross-bred new strains. For instance, 200 years ago strains of wheat didn't contain anywhere near as much gluten as modern strains and therefore would be more digestible by people with celiac disease. However those strains were all allowed to die out because other strains were preferred (sometimes due to higher productivity, sometimes better pest or disease resistance). With a bunch of GM foods having certain pesticides added to their gene
      • A good example is with potatoes -- there are about 200 different varieties of potato, but my understanding is that only four or five of them are seriously grown on a large scale in the US.

        Heirloom vegetables are still grown on a small scale just about everywhere. Plants are prolific seed producers, so it'd only take a season or two to get enough seeds for everyone.

        Heirloom Seeds and Their Keepers [arizona.edu]: Marginality and Memory in the Conservation of Biological Diversity

        The author of this book has traveled around
        • If you ask in rec.gardens.edible, you'll get a lot of recommendations for sources of heirloom seeds.

          When I do the garden thing again, I'll probably go that route, as the newer varieties just don't taste the same...

      • the lack of variety that's generally encouraged when a small number of corporations control it, makes it much more lokely that a disease or other biological threat could just wipe the whole lot out.

        Sounds a lot like the situation we face with modern computing, actually. I'm starting to really appreciate the people here who bemoan our "monoculture".
      • Heirloom gardeners and heirloom seed savers have been a quietly growing group for 25 years or so. There are an increasing number of mostly amateur gardeners planting seeds from the stock their ancestors were familiar with, to preserve these old cultivars. The reasons for doing this involve both "just because" and "just in case".

        Google on "heirloom garden seed" and you will be rewarded with more than half a million hits. Many are seed sellers who have lines of heirloom products for different regions.

        The

    • But then again why do you personally care, or for that matter why shoud anyone? You will not be there, you will be dead. Unless you believe in afterlife, what is the point? Let the people who will live then take care of it if they want. Or to put it another way, after I am dead, it will make no difference to me whatsoever if my seed is floating in space or not.

      • So what do you like about yourself? Your ideas? Values? Looks? Witty sayings? If it's any of this, then these parts of yourself can outlast the physical body that is you. At least they can if there are humans around to contain this information. For that, you might need to leave some sort of world behind for them to live in.

        Think of you as the data, not the network cable.
    • I hope there's a foot of lead included in that shielding somewhere. To me that would seem the most vital shielding they could provide.
      personally i hope they're hard at work creating tiny tinfoil hats for all those seeds
  • by ioudas (865464) on Friday January 13, 2006 @07:39PM (#14468228) Homepage
    So where can i deposit my seed?
  • by Quaoar (614366) on Friday January 13, 2006 @07:39PM (#14468229)
    ...Oh wait, that kind of seed. I better lay low for a while...
  • by AxemRed (755470)
    Why would a politically unstable country have a seed bank? I can't imagine caring much about how oak trees fare if my government was on the brink of collapse...

    //I'm also kind of curious what countries they consider to be "politically unstable."
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I would say that Taiwan is an example of a place that is technological enough and like-minded enough to have a sort of seed bank, and yet it would still be considered politically unstable because of China's threats to invade. I doubt the people in Taiwan think their government is on the brink of collapse however.

      unstable != brink of collapse
    • In Africa and Asia, even Europe (FSU!) there are countries that used to have excelent universities and academics.
      Due to the changing political situation these centres of knowledge don't have the budgets they used to have.
    • by Castar (67188) on Friday January 13, 2006 @09:44PM (#14468989)
      To Norway, every other country is politically unstable ;-)
    • If you Googled Jeff Hawtin, referred to in the story, you'd find he'd worked for the International Plant Genetic resources Institute which is part of the CGIAR, the consultative group on international agricultural research. Check here http://www.cgiar.org/centers/index.html/ [cgiar.org] a map of the world with the research centers of the CGIAR on it. Take a look. The CGIAR holds the gene banks of the world's major food crops in trust for humanity under UN auspices. You'll find potatos in Peru, rice in the Philippines,
  • One more target to add to my list!
    Mwuhahahah!

  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday January 13, 2006 @07:44PM (#14468272) Homepage Journal

    ... they have some good pot seeds frozen. Why should post-apocalyptic pizza stores go bankrupt?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 13, 2006 @07:47PM (#14468297)
    A lot of seeds die if they are ever frozen, and no seed has an infinite shelf life. After a geologicially short time all the DNA of the seeds will break down. So unfortunatly this isn't going to do any good if we humans kill our planet.
  • by hooeezit (665120) on Friday January 13, 2006 @07:47PM (#14468306)
    As far as I know, the arctic permafrost is already melting [bbc.co.uk] - which implies that the seeds will not remain frozen for very long.
    And I'd suppose there would be flooding issues involved where there is a lot of melting water. So, they will probably succeed in creating an underwater chamber of moldy grains then?
    • OK, so check this out --

      The permafrost melts, and waters the seeds. They sprout into a variable jungle of biodiversity in what was formerly arctic wasteland but now is the sunny artic plantfest.

      Those Norwegians are very clever.
  • by Xuri (755951) on Friday January 13, 2006 @07:49PM (#14468320) Homepage

    More elaborate article on this can be found at NewScientist.com [newscientist.com]. Some sketches (2) over the vault available on the online Norwegian newspaper TV2 Nettavisen [tv2.no].

    Also, I'm a bit disappointed that BBC missed out on the whole "security-details provided by roaming polar bears"-thing.

  • We need to include the other half - animals.
    DNA repositories like CRES [sandiegozoo.org].
  • by slashbob22 (918040) on Friday January 13, 2006 @07:53PM (#14468359)
    1) Top Soil Storage -- Enough to dilute the nuclear fallout and to bury the bodies of the passed as well as provide sufficient nutrients for plant growth.
    2) Water Supply -- Unless whatever is causing the damage will filter water.
    3) Source of Light -- That volcanic ash could certainly block out needed sunlight.
    4) Parking Garage -- Fer yer John Deer and other machinery (unless the human toll was minimal - labour = food)
    5) Dummies Guide to Farming -- Tony Blair, George W, and all our favourite characters will get a spot in a safe location. To that I say, save the farmers.
    6) Apiary -- Most plants require Pollination.
    The above is by no means a complete list.

    Thank goodness we have the seeds. Now I don't mean to be extremely critical since in many cases it could be sufficient. However it would be prudent to consider other requirements for growth other then just the seeds.

    • I think if the world is as screwed as this is planned for most of the things above won't matter. Ground + water + lamp = FOOD. Most people know how to take care of a plant if they try, looking after grass (hell even weeds if you can eat them), wouldn't be SO difficult and would give you some basic input for your body.
  • the thing [imdb.com]

    sure putting all that genetic material in the frozen wastelands sounds like a good idea, but then you get mutant sled dogs wandering away from the destroyed frozen norwegian science outposts, and pretty soon kurt russell has to fire up the flamethrower and do some genetic mutant ass kicking

    sorry, this seed bank idea is bad news
  • Some of my heroes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Quirk (36086) on Friday January 13, 2006 @07:59PM (#14468405) Homepage Journal
    From the site: The N.I. Vavilov All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Plant Industry [grdc.com.au] based in St Petersburg Russia, is the world's first seed bank and one of the world's largest collections of plant genetic material.

    Named after Nikolai I Vavilov, a Russian biologist, botanist and geneticist, the Institute's seed collections were largely built by Vavilov who scoured five continents in the 1920s and 1930s for wild and cultivated corn, potato tubers, grains, beans, fodder, fruits and vegetable seeds.

    Hitler's army blockaded Leningrad (now St Petersburg). Under German fire, scientists gathered unripened potato tubers from the Institute's experimental fields outside Leningrad. They burned everything they could find to keep the collection from freezing in the building.

    While guarding the collection, some scientists starved to death rather than eat the packets of rice, corn and other seeds in their desks.

    • "While guarding the collection, some scientists starved to death rather than eat the packets of rice, corn and other seeds in their desks."

      If those were from strains that were no longer existent or hard to get, then you could call them heroes. If they were widly available, they were fools.

      OTOH, I would of ate them in any case.
    • The guy spent TWO FREAKING DECADES collecting that stuff. Folks guarding it realized it would only last them a few days, so chose not to destroy a valuable scientific artifact. This is HEROISM folks, in its purest form. Not "firefighter" flavor cultivated here in the US.

      Mod the parent Insightful.
  • Do they save instructions on how to make the plant grow? When I read the article, I didn't see anything about that.

    Some seeds need to go through certain animals in order to be able to germinate. The seed bank might not be so valuable if they screw this up.
  • by theolein (316044) on Friday January 13, 2006 @08:05PM (#14468446) Journal
    I wonder if they really thought this thing through or just got carried away in their zeal. The permafrost is melting worldwide. In 50 years there will not be much left in the arctic.
  • by OverflowingBitBucket (464177) on Friday January 13, 2006 @08:14PM (#14468509) Homepage Journal
    I prefer to think of it as security of the species. Come on, hear me out...

    Picture this.... several hundred thousand years from now...

    A series of archaeologists from the now dominant evolved-from-Dolphins species that runs the planet finds a mysterious encased tomb. Cracking their way through the concrete covering, they find a collection of primitive seeds. Despite the training provided by their utopian society, enroute to the museum a couple of seeds manage to blow away and germinate in the soil nearby. Slowly but surely, plants from a long-forgotten era slowly grow and displace the native flora. Despite their best efforts, the native flora is rapidly killed off, being entirely unsuited to compete against these primitive plants. The rapid change in the flora leads to a collapse of the entire food chain, and subsequent extinction of the dolphin race.

    And then us monkeys get another crack at it! Take that Dolphin overlords!
    • I, for one, welcome our Dolphin Overlords.

      HA! It's actually relevant this time!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      But God created US in His image, not Dolphins. He gave us dominion over this world until Jesus returns. Let's not forget that. Jesus isn't coming back to a world with no people, or a world controlled by Dolphins. ;-)

      Worrying about seeds is rather pointless really. We need to be worrying about souls. This world is temporal, but eternity awaits everyone, it's a matter of where you spend it.

      Just my input, is it worth anything? Is it as valuable as everyone elses, or is my opinion less valuable because it
      • Worrying about seeds is rather pointless really. We need to be worrying about souls. This world is temporal, but eternity awaits everyone, it's a matter of where you spend it.

        Oh, absolutely! But despite the definite appeal in trapping a collection of souls in a concrete bunker instead of seeds, I somehow doubt its legality. ;)

        But God created US in His image, not Dolphins.

        And you know this... how? I look at the fact that the sea covers 70% of the Earth's surface, where Dolphins reside, yet we are stuck with
    • Douglas Adams, is that you?
  • by nincehelser (935936) on Friday January 13, 2006 @08:23PM (#14468562)
    http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=mg189253 43.700 [newscientist.com]

    I think it's really more about preserving genetic diversity rather than being a hedge against world-wide disaster.

    • I think you're right. Arguably it's a good idea, whether or not the organisms themselves are ever grown, because the DNA may have interesting genes in it that future biotechnologists might want to study and use, when we get to the point where we're able to not only "read" a genome easily but with full comprehension.

      It's for this reason that the actual viability of the seeds isn't maybe that much of an issue. So long as the DNA remains intact and can be sequenced, it will be useful.

      Although...I wonder if
  • by Amiasian (157604) on Friday January 13, 2006 @08:36PM (#14468652)
    Marshall T. Savage, a while ago, proposed a rather interesting idea [amazon.com] for preserving life that I think would work as a great parallel project to this:

    In this boldly optimistic manifesto, Savage proclaims a master plan for the human race: to spread life throughout the galaxy. To many, space exploration seems irrelevant to Earth's real problems; but humanity may in fact have no other way to secure its long-term survival. To remain confined to Earth, Savage claims, is to court extinction, possibly within a few decades. Savage (an engineer who has established the Millennial Foundation to promote space exploration) outlines his program for transferring a significant portion of humanity off-planet. The crucial first step is to colonize the ocean surface with floating cities, quadrupling the living space available to the growing population of Earth. This allows us to reverse the degradation of the environment by shifting to the thermal energy of the deep ocean as our primary power source. At the same time, spirulina algae (already on sale in health food stores) becomes a major new food crop. The hardware for these oceanic colonies is already within practical reach: Savage provides a detailed inventory of how his floating cities would work and support themselves, with copious citations of the scientific literature. Once this move is well underway, it frees up energy and resources for the next steps. Improved space vehicles make possible orbiting space colonies, then settlements on the moon. A larger step is terraforming Mars--creating an atmosphere and a water supply for our lifeless neighbor to form a human habitat. On an even longer time scale, the race can expand into the rest of the solar system: asteroids and the moons of other planets. Ultimately, artificial habitats may completely surround the sun. With the resources of an entire solar system at our command, according to Savage, humanity can at last send out emissaries to other stars. The stuff of science fiction? Of course--but rigorously built from existing science, carefully documented, and convincingly argued. Highly recommended.
    • or those floating cities will give us reason to also target much of the remaining 70% of our planet in the next global war. Everything else you talked about means cheap kinetic energy weapons with megatons of yield.
    • "The crucial first step is to colonize the ocean surface with floating cities, quadrupling the living space available to the growing population of Earth. This allows us to reverse the degradation of the environment by shifting to the thermal energy of the deep ocean as our primary power source."

      Yeah, right. I was into that space colony stuff back when I was a teenager, which was around 25 years ago. The guy pushing these floating ocean cities needs to read John Brunner's "Stand on Zanziber" and then about
  • Re:thinking (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Bananas (156733)
    50 comments and not a single one zeros in on the concept of a monoculture grain system being promoted by Monsanto (and friends) along with the potential effect it could have on grain stocks when (not if!) there comes to pass a blight or other form of crop failure.

    A simple challenge to you: if you're simply laughing at the prior sentence, then consider that you will die should it happen. If you're not laughing and you're seriously considering the effects, you too would consider a little biodiversity...

  • by TERdON (862570) on Friday January 13, 2006 @08:54PM (#14468747) Homepage
    That should be ragnarok [wikipedia.org], nothing else.
  • by aleator (869538) on Friday January 13, 2006 @09:09PM (#14468826) Homepage
    things change... that's the way of life! the only ecosystem that is at equlibrium is a climax. every other system is NOT at equilibrium and therefore living... generating new species and dying out on some other parts.

    if you save seeds, you did do a snapshot of available species at a certain time under certain conditions. sure plants can grow under a lot of conditions but don't rest on the fact that now we will have a global seed-bank in a stable cold place and now we can destruct the whole ecosystems of this planet just becasue we have the seeds to re-establish it back. this is NOT the case. plants are highly dependend on animals, bacteria, virii, ... they do not exist at their own. everything is linked. you cannot restore a whole such system by simply bringing back the plants. for a start: how would they fix nitrogen from atmosphere? this is done by bacteria in most cases that grow in plants.

    better let's keep the ecosystems we have now more or less stable and try not to destroy them completely than relating on seed-banks for conservation.

    don't get me wrong: seed-banks are very valuable tools for research and agriculture, but not for longterm conservation! ... want yet another illustrating example: imagine this: lets assume, we have put a dinosaur, a raptor, in cryo some milion years ago and now we decide to restore its population. we thaw it up again, make it mate with another dino of other sex and let them have children. now try to find a place in our modern world, where they would be able to reestablish a population... maybe a city like new york or tokyo? or london or paris or kolkata? 18milion humans and 150 raptor dinosaurs in same habitat... would this be possible? probably not. the time has passed and things changed. the raptor has no chance to exist in our world. this will be probably the most frequent fate of such imaginary experiments, because of the fact that life cannot be preserved but only prolonged and even that has its limits... ;-) ... think about that!
  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday January 13, 2006 @09:15PM (#14468851) Homepage Journal
    Building a doomsday seed seems a bit risky.
    What happens if it gets lost? or a bird eats it then shits it onto an innoscent park some where.

    1 year and a little water...kabooom!
    just to risky...
  • Having not taken Murphy's Law seriously enough, the brave Norwegian seed guardians first notice Doom as a distant whistling noise.

    Say, Gunter, vot is zat zound? Asks Olaf.

    Vhy, I dunno! Says Gunter. It sounds almost like a vhistle!

    They ponder the problem for a few seconds, and look out the window of the seed bank guard tower where they were having lunch a minute earlier. Gunter speaks first.

    Olaf, there is a very strange circular shadow on the ground. It covers ze whole base!

    Yes, I see, Gunter, what can zis m
  • by bdwoolman (561635) on Friday January 13, 2006 @10:17PM (#14469132) Homepage

    Svalbard, of which Spitsbergen is an island, is a complicated case politically -- sort of like the Antarctic where signatories to the treaty of Svalbard can have a research or economic presence. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svalbard [wikipedia.org].

    Norway's sovereignty is not in question, but it is under constraint. The Russians mine coal there (among other things). Norway has huge oil reserves in the North Sea and wants to move drilling into the Arctic ocean. The Norwegians have a strong interest in developing Svalbard and have a heavy presence in Longyearbyen. There is a developed tourist trade for people like me and my crazy wife who rode snowmobiles six hours to Berentsberg (The Russian Settlement) in a whiteout last Easter. But how many idiots like us can they count on?

    Now, put in this context, the seed project makes a lot more sense. It is a good thing to do, of course, but at root there is the matter of "presence" not to mention all that oil and gas up there. And let's not forget those pesky Russians who also have interests.

  • It's interesting how strongly persistent natural selection makes life forms. On Planet Earth, life forms have advanced so far in their ability for self-persistence that they've evolved sentient beings who then developed technology to allow them to gird the seeds of life for survival against the most extreme of natural disasters.
  • by idlake (850372) on Friday January 13, 2006 @11:06PM (#14469322)
    Where can I get some? Mwahahaha.
  • why would I want a bank of Doomsday Seeds? Sounds dangerous.

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