It’s the ultimate backup: a three-room condo dug 400 feet deep into the permafrost of a Norwegian mountain, its steel and concrete design engineered to withstand earthquakes and a direct nuclear strike.
It’s the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a modern-day Noah’s Ark, intended to be a backup for the world’s 1,400 seed banks. With a capacity of 4.5 million seeds, Svalbard can keep seeds for 1,000 years in its subzero vaults. Even if the power fails, seeds stored there should be viable for two centuries.
Svalbard was inaugurated this week, too late to save the seed banks wiped out by war in Iraq and Afghanistan or by a typhoon in the Philippines.
Reading about the Svalbard project got me thinking about how I save the seeds of my own family’s history. We all know the value of backing up our electronic files, but how many of us actually do it? Just as the death of a loved one robs us of an opportunity to tap into their wealth of family knowledge, the crash of a hard drive could wipe out decades of work in an instant.
Take a few minutes to consider how you protect your precious files. Satisfied? If not, you might want to consider using an online storage site (for a fee) or an online e-mail site like Gmail or Yahoo (free). Other options can be found on my earlier post on the subject.
Larry Lehmer is a personal historian who helps people preserve their family histories. To learn more, visit his web site or send him an e-mail.
Photo of entrance to Svalbard Global Seed Vault courtesy of sophsrome.