Doomsday Vault Modern Day Noah's Ark
Threat of Armageddon, global warming got you down?
Your environmental conscience got you rethinking travel plans? Worried all your jet setting may lead to ecological Doomsday? Strike worrying about the world's flora and fauna off your list today. The Doomsday Vault in Norway is the world's insurance policy against the worst we can throw at it.
The vault, which Norway built at a cost of roughly $9 million, is hoped to be a fail-safe backup for the other 1,400 seed banks throughout the world. War decimated seed banks in Iraq and Afghanistan, and one in the Philippines was flooded during a typhoon in 2006.
This high-tech cocoon is kept at a chilly -0.4 Fahrenheit, 425 feet into the Plataaberget Mountain. At that temperature, researchers believe the seed library will last as at least as long as Egypt's pyramids.
In case you're considering traveling there to see it for yourself, forget it. Among other things, the vault is protected by an armed guard. It's been designed to withstand earthquakes - 6.2 magnitudes - and even a direct nuclear strike.
Reactions from around the world have been mostly positive, but locals who closely guard the isolation of the Arctic archipelago aren't so pleased with all the attention. "We like to be here a little bit for ourselves," said Kai Tredal, 42, one of the roughly 2,000 residents of Svalbard's main town of Longyearbyen.
President of the European Commission, Manuel Barroso, the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai and the Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg are expected to attend the inauguration ceremony tomorrow.
Although Norway owns the vault and will continue to finance its upkeep, each country that contributes will own their contributions.
It's comforting to know the vault exists and that our plants at least will be safe from the environmental sucker-punches we keep throwing at the earth.