Svalbard: countdown to doomsday

Feb 28, 2008

The seed vault opens. World dignitaries, oblivious to the danger, hailed the Doomsday Vault:

“This is a frozen Garden of Eden,” European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said, standing in one of the frosty vaults against a backdrop of large discs made of ice.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg called the vault an “insurance policy” and added his own biblical comparison: “It is the Noah’s Ark for securing biological diversity for future generations.”

Svalbard Global Seed Vault, just 620 miles from the North Pole, is designed to house as many as 4.5 million crop seeds from all over the world. It is built to withstand global warming, earthquakes and even nuclear strikes.

The vault, built by the Norwegian government for $9.1 million, will operate like a bank box. Norway owns the bank, but the countries depositing seeds own them and can used them as needed free of charge.

That’s what they want you to think.

And yet another reason to fear Svalbard:

Once cloned and engineered, “The Monster” will present a grave threat to US air and naval supremacy, as seen in this artist’s rendition:

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Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.