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The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, located on an island off the northern coast of Norway, is somewhat of a last hope for scientists as the planet's climate becomes warmer and more species continue to go extinct. The seed vault, maintained by an organization called The Crop Trust, houses some 4.5 million varieties of seed. Its goal is to have a back-up option of sorts for maintaining biodiversity. Currently, the vault stores over 864,000 species of plant life from more than 100 countries-all housed in a cold, dry facility. Experts estimate that the vault has almost half of the planet's known macroflora, like trees and grains. It's already being used too. Syria recently made a withdrawal from the vault, taking back seeds that it had previously deposited in the hopes of reviving a seed bank destroyed by the ongoing civil war.
The approach has not been without controversy. First, there are already disagreements over ownership amongst contributing countries. Scientists are also disagreeing over the methodology being used by Svalbard. Some critics say this type of vault will ultimately act more as an historical record, rather than a starting point to revive species. They believe these seeds will lack viability by the time they are reintroduced to the environment-the terrain and atmospheric conditions could be way different at that point. Whether or not you agree with it, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault sparks human curiosity. Hopefully, as the project gets more attention, it will inspire people to take more preventative measures and help better preserve our natural world.
The Doomsday Vault: The Seeds That Could Save A Post-apocalyptic World (The Guardian)
"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 freeze."
Extinction risk from climate change (Nature)
"Climate change over the past approximately 30 years has produced numerous shifts in the distributions and abundances of species and has been implicated in one species-level extinction."