Deep in the remote Arctic Svalbard archipelago, sitting roughly 810 miles away from the North Pole, a monolithic entrance juts out of the snow. And like the lair of some comic book super-villain, the entrance leads deep underground, to a place known as the Doomsday Vault.
But you won’t find weapons of mass destruction within the vault’s belly. Quite the contrary, in fact, for the vault’s sole purpose is to house and preserve seeds, in case of a global catastrophe. If the world’s agricultural populous were to die, those seeds give mankind a second chance to rebuild.
The Doomsday Vault opened in February 2008, and it currently houses more than 740,000 different seeds, though it has room for 2.25 billion. The seeds range from tulips to tomatoes, perennials to papayas, and the hope is to include every single breed of seed. In fact, as reported by TODAY, “there are more than 100 thousand different types of rice alone in storage.” The Doomsday Vault is no joke.
To ensure the vault survives all global catastrophes, its built far from tectonic activity and 430 feet above sea level. Even if the polar icecaps melted, the vault would be above the expected waterline. Unless new seeds are being delivered, the vault remains unmanned, for the seeds are preserved by the natural underground chill. But if you were to venture out to the vault, somehow making it past the arctic, polar bear-ridden landscape, a robust security system would be happy to see you off.
The Doomsday Vault is said to have the capability of surviving for 20,000 years without the assistance of humans. If you want to thank someone for funding the project, look no further than Bill and Melinda Gates, whose foundation provided a bulk of the finances.