The doomsday vault: the seeds that could save a post-apocalyptic world | Suzanne Goldenberg

Set in an Arctic mountainside, the Svalbard seed bank contains the world’s most prized crops. But a row has erupted over whether this is the best hope of feeding the world after a catastrophe or just an overpriced deep freezeOne Tuesday last winter, in the town nearest to the North Pole, Robert Bjerke turned up for work at his regular hour and looked at the computer monitor on his desk to discover, or so it seemed for a few horrible moments, that the future of human civilisation was in jeopardy.The morning of 16 December 2014 was relatively mild for winter in Svalbard: -7.6C with moderate winds. The archipelago, which lies in the Arctic ocean, is under Norway’s control, but it is nearly twice as far from Oslo as it is from the North Pole. The main town, Longyearbyen, has many unexpected comforts – tax-free liquor and cigarettes, clothing stores and a cafe with artisan chocolates shaped like polar bears and snowflakes. For Bjerke, who works for the Norwegian government’s property agency, Statsbygg, the cold and isolation were the big attraction when he moved there. Bjerke loved the stillness, and getting out into that big white Arctic wasteland on his snowmobile; so much so that he signed on for a second posting at Svalbard a decade or more after his first stint. But when Bjerke arrived at the office, he was looking forward to spending Christmas with his wife and three children near Oslo. Continue reading...
Source: Guardian Unlimited Science - Category: Science Authors: Tags: Conservation Norway Biology Science Plants Environment Europe World news Source Type: news

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