All-Nighter Ho! -- Planet Earth: Norway's cold seeds

CNN reports on Norway's new seed menagerie. This whole business smacks of a Raiders of the Lost Ark action movie. Too bad the payoff is a rare strain of alfalfa:

Norway's Agriculture Minister Terje Riis-Johansen has called the vault a "Noah's Ark on Svalbard."

Its purpose is to ensure the survival of crop diversity in the event of plant epidemics, nuclear war, natural disasters or climate change, and to offer the world a chance to restart growth of food crops that may have been wiped out.

would be stored at such cold temperatures that they could last hundreds, even thousands, of years, according to the independent Global Crop Diversity Trust. The trust, founded in 2004, has also worked on the project and will help run the vault, which is scheduled to open and start accepting seeds from around the world in September 2007.

The Svalbard Archipelago, 300 miles north of the mainland, was selected because it is located far from many threats and has a consistently cold climate.

Those factors will help protect the seeds and safeguard their genetic makeup, Norway's Foreign Ministry said. The vault will have thick concrete walls, and even if all cooling systems fail, the temperature in the frozen mountain will never rise above freezing due to permafrost, it said.

While the facility will be fenced in and guarded, Svalbard's free-roaming polar bears, known for their ferocity, could also act as natural guardians, according to the Global Diversity Trust.

I don't know if you noticed this, but these seeds will be heavily-guarded. They will be underground, surrounded by concrete, on mainstreet of frigid-nowheresville, and guarded by a cadre of hungry polar bears -- getting hungrier by the minute for all the global warming.

Yet: ...the seeds, packaged in foil...

Yes, the seeds will be wrapped in aluminum foil like my lunch in elementary school. Wha?!

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