Inside the Vault

The post-apocalyptic seed vault – or "international doomsday vault" – now under construction on the Arctic island of Spitsbergen can be counted upon perhaps not to save global agriculture but to pop up now and again on the internet for years to come; it's been on BLDGBLOG twice already – and I have a feeling we're only going to hear more about this thing.
And for good reason: it's fascinating.
But now we actually have a photograph of the vault's interior.

[Image: Mari Tefre for Getty Images, via the Guardian].

So what's the vault? As the Guardian says:
    Engineers last week finished work on one of the world's most ambitious conservation projects: a doomsday vault carved into a frozen mountainside in the archipelago of Svalbard, a few hundred miles from the North Pole.
    Over the next few weeks, the huge cavern – backed by the Norwegian government and the Gates Foundation – will be filled with more than a million types of seed and will be officially opened in February next year.
    "This will be the last refuge for the world's crops," said Cary Fowler, of the Rome-based Global Crop Diversity Trust, which is building the vault. "There are seed banks in various countries round the globe, but several have been destroyed or badly damaged in recent years. We need a place that is politically and environmentally safe if we are going to feed the planet as it gets hotter."
And the inside of the vault may look cold now, but "engineers are scheduled over the next few weeks to use refrigerating equipment to cool the vault to around minus 18 degrees. Then it will be ready for its seeds, say scientists."
Perhaps those engineers can combine all this with the ice wall and build a whole new architecture of frozen vaults in the earth's surface, domed labyrinths beneath the snow.
In 225 years a group of climate change survivors, sunburnt and half-mad with starvation, will flee the intolerably tropical temperatures that now extend as far north as Oslo and literally stumble upon the place, slipping into a crevasse and knocking up against the rusting door of a long-forgotten vault.
It takes only a few hours to hack open the door – and then they'll cautiously walk inside...

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can only imagine that the "refrigerating equipment" will help to speed the ecological crisis. This is amazing, of course, but also seems completely stupid.

November 11, 2007 3:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

... and then they'll freeze to death in the minus 18 degree "weather".


November 11, 2007 10:42 AM  
Blogger The City Desk said...

For some reason, it kind of reminds me of the salt mines 1200 feet below Detroit.

November 11, 2007 10:54 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi there, I'm a longtime reader and fan of Bldgblog, and this seemed like the best way to get a link in front of the busy site maintainers.

I just came across this tale -> of a mysterious grid of concrete crosses in the Arizona desert. It turns out that the crosses were used to test US spy satellites -- they were calibration
marks printed on the face of the earth.

November 11, 2007 6:18 PM  
Blogger Neil said...

Reminded me of this place - - which is not refrigerated but still gives me the chills.


November 15, 2007 3:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CGIAR and ‘The Project’

As detailled in the book, Seeds of Destruction, in 1960 the Rockefeller Foundation, John D. Rockefeller III’s Agriculture Development Council and the Ford Foundation joined forces to create the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños, the Philippines.1 By 1971, the Rockefeller Foundation’s IRRI, along with their Mexico-based International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center and two other Rockefeller and Ford Foundation-created international research centers, the IITA for tropical agriculture, Nigeria, and IRRI for rice, Philippines, combined to form a global Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research (CGIAR).

CGIAR was shaped at a series of private conferences held at the Rockefeller Foundation’s conference center in Bellagio, Italy. Key participants at the Bellagio talks were the Rockefeller Foundation’s George Harrar, Ford Foundation’s Forrest Hill, Robert McNamara of the World Bank and Maurice Strong, the Rockefeller family’s international environmental organizer, who, as a Rockefeller Foundation Trustee, organized the UN Earth Summit in Stockholm in 1972. It was part of the foundation’s decades long focus to turn science to the service of eugenics, a hideous version of racial purity, what has been called The Project.

To ensure maximum impact, CGIAR drew in the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN Development Program and the World Bank. Thus, through a carefully-planned leverage of its initial funds, the Rockefeller Foundation by the beginning of the 1970’s was in a position to shape global agriculture policy. And shape it did.

Financed by generous Rockefeller and Ford Foundation study grants, CGIAR saw to it that leading Third World agriculture scientists and agronomists were brought to the US to ‘master’ the concepts of modern agribusiness production, in order to carry it back to their homeland. In the process they created an invaluable network of influence for US agribusiness promotion in those countries, most especially promotion of the GMO ‘Gene Revolution’ in developing countries, all in the name of science and efficient, free market agriculture.

January 31, 2008 6:20 AM  
Blogger Minivet said...

...If it's been 225 years, they might be hungry, but they probably won't be "half mad with starvation."

February 25, 2008 4:00 PM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

Why won't they be "half mad with starvation"? It seems like a perfectly reasonably prediction to me...

February 25, 2008 5:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I first heard about this "seed vault" on 60 minutes, I was skeptical about what kind of "seeds" are they preserving? Yep, GMO seeds! Not what Mother Nature intended, for seeds to be genetically modified to be resistant to chemicals to feed the future. It infuriates me that Bill Gates would be part of this, and Cary Fowler. If that's what I have to look forward to is eating food grown that came from seeds from this vault, I'm sick right now from the thought. I want to the world to wake-up and see the damage these GMO seeds are causing! I'm outraged and crying about this "seed vault".

March 27, 2008 5:44 PM  

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