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Published:July 16th, 2011 12:10 EST
The Goodies Hidden in the Doomsday Vault

The Goodies Hidden in the Doomsday Vault

By Donna Cavanagh

Picture it:  A cataclysmic event has almost destroyed the world. It could be global warming gone amok or perhaps that elusive Rapture, but whatever, the disaster happened and those of us who were not lucky to be vaporized or beamed up to heaven are stuck on the planet foraging for food.  Well, believe it or not, scientists have been preparing for this day. 

Deep in the frozen mountains somewhere in Norway about 1300 kilometers from the North Pole (which translates to about 808 miles to those of us not good with the metric system), scientists have built the Svalbard Global Seed Vault which is more commonly known as the Doomsday Vault ".  This vault houses duplicates of different crops from all over the world including almost 113,000 seeds of different types of rice.  The vault was constructed to withstand most any type of assault be it natural or man made and sits at an elevation of 130 meters which is far above any projected or unexpected rise in sea level. The neatly stacked piles of seeds have a shelf life of hundreds of years making their expiration date just about the same as Twinkies. 

The vault also sits in near-perfect conditions. The mountains provide security from raiders and radiation; there is nothing unstable in the surrounding geographical conditions; and humidity levels are low. Even if the vault loses electricity, the frozen mountains will keep the seeds from perishing for a long time. And with the vault`s close proximity to the North Pole, scientists say they can count on Santa`s elves to also watch over the vault.  Okay, I made up the part about Santa`s elves, but for one minute, you actually believed again, right?

I like the fact that scientists have packed away seeds for our future. It would be nice if they could put a couple of cows or a fish tank in there stocked with some salmon, or lobster maybe even some tilapia. I know rice is an important staple but a lot of rice could bring on digestive issues, so if they don`t have coffee beans growing or a supply of ex-lax there might be some pretty cranky survivors. 

Besides my constipation concerns, I have farming concerns. If the world gets obliterated, where will they grow the seeds?  I would think it might be challenging at best to dig trenches to plant the seeds, especially rice seeds which need paddies to grow, on the top of a frozen mountain. If the world is basically gone, transportation would be an issue, so how are they going to get the seeds to suitable farmland and what if that farmland has been radiated or taken over by aliens or whatever?  I don`t mean to put a damper on the Doomsday Vault, but I`m not sure if the scientists have thought this through.  Just having seeds is not the answer. We need farmland, farming tools, and well, farmers to make these crops a success. Also, in order to survive the initial catastrophe, we would also need another source of food until the crops are ready to be harvested, so we are back to the Twinkies and canned beans again.

So, my next suggestion to scientists would be to start stocking up on non-perishable foods and while you are doing that, maybe you can put in the vault other essentials like shampoo, laundry detergent, toilet paper, toothpaste and soap.  Whenever I watch disaster flicks, the people who survive are always sweaty and dirty; I guess that happens when everything explodes around you. So, maybe some personal hygiene products would make surviving a disaster a little more bearable. If the survivors are going to try and re-populate the earth, they should try to smell nice. Nothing ruins the mood of a good re-population effort like greasy hair and bad breath.


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