This is extremely cool. Norway has opened a seed vault on their island of Longyearbyen, a repositary for millions of seeds that tunnels hundreds of meters down into the permafrost and is guaranteed to survive the next few centuries, even given the worst case global warming scenarios. They’ve collected seeds from all over the world, each seed coming from a different field, and hope that in doing so they will be able to preserve some of the current biodiversity on the planet.

The vault itself is futuristic and awesome. It was located on this island due to not only the stable nature of the mountain and rock, but for its elevated position and deep reaching levels of permafrost which would ensure subzero temperatures in the storage rooms even if the power gave out. They also commissioned artist Dyveke Sanne and KORO, the Norwegian agency overseeing art in public spaces, to build a beautiful array of mirrors, prisms and lights over the entrance that will reflect the sun during the summer and exhude a pale, wintry light during the rest of the year. It’s gorgeous.

“The significant public interest in the seed vault project indicates that collectively we are changing the way we think about environmental conservation. We now understand that along with international movements to save endangered species and the rainforests of the world, it is just as important for us to conserve the diversity of the world’s crops for future generations,” Wangari Maathai, founder of the African Green Belt Movement and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate said.

“The opening of the seed vault marks a historic turning point in safeguarding the world’s crop diversity,’’ said Cary Fowler, Executive Director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust. “But about 50 percent of the unique diversity stored in seed banks still is endangered. We are in the midst of trying to rescue these varieties. Our success means we will guarantee the conservation and availability of these wildly diverse crops. Forever.”