Climate change has melted permafrost that was never expected to melt, partly flooding the world’s doomsday seed vault.
Flooding caused by climate change has hit the Global Seed Vault, which holds samples of the world’s seeds in the event of an apocalyptic catastrophe.
The seeds weren’t damaged, but the entryway of the vault flooded when nearby permafrost melted. Engineers are now designing plans to shore up protections at the storage facility.
The vault has been described as the “Noah’s Ark” of seeds and a last chance for the world to regenerate if the worst happens. Built into a hillside in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, it was established in 2008 as a fail-safe protection for food sources and stores packets of dried and frozen seeds from around the world that can last hundreds of years.
Officials chose the location because they believed the permafrost there was permanent. But in a worrying sign that world-threatening change may be inescapable anywhere on the planet, the permafrost melted for the first time in recorded history.
The melting occurred during the recent extraordinarily warm Arctic winter but, since the facility was designed to require little monitoring and is unstaffed, officials just discovered it. Now the Norwegian government, which owns the vault, and Statsbygg, the agency that runs the facility, will closely monitor it for threats from climate change.
“It was not in our plans to think that the permafrost would not be there and that it would experience extreme weather like that,” Statsbygg spokeswoman Hege Njaa Aschim told The Guardian. “It was supposed to [operate] without the help of humans, but now we are watching the seed vault 24 hours a day.”
Workers used pumps to remove the standing water and will waterproof walls and build drainage ditches to deal with runoff from melting permafrost.
Statsbygg is now also tasked with tracking the state of the permafrost on Svalbard.
Permafrost is permanently frozen soil, and occurs mostly in high latitudes. Permafrost comprises 24% of the land in the Northern Hemisphere, and stores massive amounts of carbon. As a result of climate change, permafrost is at risk of melting, releasing the stored carbon in the form of carbon dioxide and methane, which are powerful heat-trapping gases.
The Doomsday Vault is a great idea but how likely is it that you will be able to make it to the Arctic or that they’d give you seeds?
Start your own personal seed vault. Get all open pollinated, non hybrid, non gmo varieties: vegetables, herbs, spices, fruits and edible flowers.
Your seed vault can be pretty small: A repurposed amo box can work to keep seeds protected from the elements.
No matter the amount of food you have stored away, it will eventually run out, then where will you turn? The best and only answer is to be able to grow your own. Whether you have a patio or a pasture, anything you can add to your daily meal plan will extend your survival time.
Plant something edible this week and learn to save seeds. It won’t be a waste of time if by the year 2020 you are sustainably growing some of your own healthy food. You might start with a small kit like a fabric garden bed.
The secret is the specially engineered EZ-Gro fabric. It’s highly durable, UV resistant, and offers perfect drainage. The fabric allows air to reach the roots. This is very important because oxygen is essential for plant growth and in a traditional raised bed garden, some soils don’t offer good air flow.
EZ-Gro™ fabric gardens allow for “air pruning.” In pots or planters, plant roots grow up to the edge and start to circle around, and the plants can become pot-bound, resulting in poor growth and an increased likelihood of disease. Often, the gardener must remove a plant from a pot and prune the roots for healthier growth. In a fabric garden the roots grow to the outside edge, sense the presence of air, and evenly fill the rest of the bed.
The type of soil, how much sunlight, the frequency and amount of water you need, and pest management are homework. Look around locally to see if others have gardens and ask what they grow. Many gardeners love sharing their growing tips. There are plenty of mistakes to be made, but once you start producing your own food for less than you would spend for the same items in a store, there is a great sense of personal accomplishment.
I spent $75 starting a garden and had fresh greens, onions, cauliflower, broccoli and hot peppers for several months. Thanks to the rain I didn’t even need to water. Then I planted a garden for a friend.