$4.4 Million Is Being Spent to Protect the Global Seed Vault From Global Warming

But will that be enough to keep the “doomsday vault” safe?

6. 27. 17 by Tom Ward
Crop Trust
Image by Crop Trust

The Global Seed Vault was designed as a back-up plan for humanity in the case of an apocalyptic event. The seeds in its collection would allow future societies to maintain the planet’s botanical diversity while covering the spectrum of nutrition in case no other sources of food were available. 50,000 more seeds were recently added to the collection, but now, climate change is threatening the world’s Plan B.

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The vault, which is owned by the Norwegian government, was designed to function in a permafrost. However, global warming made 2016 the hottest year on record, and melting permafrost due to the rising temperatures caused water to flood the entrance to the enormous vault, undermining its “failsafe” status.

In response, the Norwegian government has pledged to spend $4.4 million to upgrade the vault. The first $1.6 million will got toward investigating the problem and potential solutions, efforts that will be spearheaded by consultancy firm Dr. Techn. Olav Olsen.

Current suggestions for future improvements include building an entrance tunnel that slopes upward toward the seed vault to drain water away. For now, the government is attempting to improve the situation by relocating a heat-emitting transformer station inside of the tunnel to decrease thaw, and plans are in place to dig drainage ditches around the complex and build a waterproof wall within it as well.

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The silver lining of the situation is that these concerns have arisen at a time when there is still sufficient human infrastructure to repair and plan. Running into these problems post-global disaster would no doubt be much more troubling.


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