"Noah's Ark" of Seeds Stored in Vault Near North Pole

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NBC Nightly News
Brian Williams/Dawna Friesen
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Video News Report
NBCUniversal Media, LLC.
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An underground vault on a remote island near the North Pole stores millions of seeds from around the world, a safeguard to the world food supply in the event of global catastrophe or plant species extinction.



""Noah's Ark" of Seeds Stored in Vault Near North Pole." Dawna Friesen, correspondent. NBC Nightly News. NBCUniversal Media. 26 Feb. 2008. NBC Learn. Web. 22 January 2015.


Friesen, D. (Reporter), & Williams, B. (Anchor). (2008, February 26). "Noah's Ark" of Seeds Stored in Vault Near North Pole. [Television series episode]. NBC Nightly News. Retrieved from https://archives.nbclearn.com/portal/site/k-12/browse/?cuecard=39753


""Noah's Ark" of Seeds Stored in Vault Near North Pole" NBC Nightly News, New York, NY: NBC Universal, 02/26/2008. Accessed Thu Jan 22 2015 from NBC Learn: https://archives.nbclearn.com/portal/site/k-12/browse/?cuecard=39753


BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor (Cleveland):

We have a fascinating to show you--story to show you tonight. You're about to see what it means to go to extremes to save the world. Dug deep into a mountain on a remote island near the North Pole, there's a project that is often called the doomsday vault. It's really a giant freezer. And inside, something very tiny that could come to the rescue in the case of a global catastrophe. NBC's Dawna Friesen is 500 miles off the northern coast of Norway tonight on an arctic archipelago with this remarkable effort to safeguard the world's food supply.

DAWNA FRIESEN reporting:

If the cold doesn't kill you on Svalbard, the polar bears might. Yet 600 miles from the North Pole, high above a fjord, deep inside a mountain is a vault built to one day save mankind. Today the Svalbard vault received its first deposit: seeds, more than 100 million of them, stored to preserve the world's food supply.

Mr. JENS STOLTENBERG (Norwegian Prime Minister): It is the Noah's ark of today.

FRIESEN: The vault is a brain child of American plant scientist Cary Fowler.

Right now we're covered in rock and permafrost.

Mr. CARY FOWLER: That's right, yeah. It's always below zero at this point in the--in the mountain, and in the even worst case climate change scenario it's going to be freezing back here 200 years from now.

FRIESEN: Four hundred feet underground, the bunker is a last ditch reserve ready to replenish the world's farmers if all else fails.

Mr. FOWLER: It's really a history of our own life on planet earth and it's also a future resource for us and for our children.

FRIESEN: Seeds are coming from all over the globe, representing every known variety of crop. Expert seed hunters like Ken Street search far-flung places--here, Tajikistan--for ancient varieties before they disappear.

It's believed one variety of plant becomes extinct every day, wiped out by disease, natural disaster, human conflict or climate change.

Mr. KEN STREET (Agricultural Ecologist): And without this genetic diversity to draw from, we're--our food security is down to, you know, it's just gone.

FRIESEN: We're not only deep inside a mountain here, this place is protected by heavy steel doors, three airlocks and a sophisticated video surveillance system. And in case that isn't enough, outside, polar bears. A place so cold and remote it offers unparalleled security because one day our future might lie in the seeds of the past. Dawna Friesen, NBC News, on the Svalbard Archipelago.