Imagine that the unthinkable has happened.
A massive asteroid impact triggers a “nuclear winter” effect, or one of the world’s most dangerous supervolcanos erupts. Maybe Donald Trump gets in an epic Twitter feud with Kim Jong-Un that initiates World War 3.
Either way, things are going sideways, and the fate of human civilization itself is at stake. Will everything be lost?
Enter the ‘Doomsday Vault’
Well, besides the fact that the world’s cities have been replaced by smoking craters, there is some good news for the humans that survive a potentially apocalyptic scenario.
On a remote island that is just 800 miles (1,300 km) from the North Pole, the Norwegian government has built a failsafe in the freezing cold that protects thousands of the most vital crops from extinction. Officially called the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, it already holds close to a million samples of crops around the world, with each sample holding about 500 seeds.
Today’s infographic, from Futurism, has more on this Doomsday Vault that could one day help to save civilization:
Carved 390 ft (120 m) into a sandstone mountain in a Norwegian archipelago, the vault keeps the temperature of seeds well below freezing while also limiting humidity. This minimizes metabolic activity, which means that the seed vault will likely be able to preserve seeds for most major crops for thousands of years.
Already Handy Once
Despite remaining a pragmatic backup plan for the worst case global scenarios, the Doomsday Vault has already come in handy just a few years into its existence. In 2015, war-torn Syria was the first country to withdraw seeds from the vault in order to replace those lost in Aleppo due to the ongoing civil conflict.
The wheat, barley, and grass seeds from the Aleppo bank are thought to have important traits resistant to drought, which researchers think could be increasingly important in the face of climate change.