A keeper of seeds hopes to save the world from starvation

ideas.ted.com

QWA-category-ClimateCrisis

If you ever find yourself in the northernmost town in the world, look carefully. Built into the side of a sandstone mountain is a glowing blue façade on top of a concrete tunnel; it might be the door to the secret headquarters of a Bond villain. And like Bond’s greatest villains, its purpose is at once deeply pessimistic and oddly hopeful.

The Global Seed Vault on the archipelago of Svalbard, Norway, is built to protect the world’s seed diversity from natural disasters and warfare. Designed to last 10,000 years, this vault is the world’s insurance policy, a way to ensure that humanity never runs out of diverse sources of food to grow.

The vault is the brainchild of Cary Fowler, a 65-year-old bespectacled man with a mop of curly red hair and a gentle southern American twang (he’s from Memphis, Tennessee). Frankly he makes a somewhat unlikely candidate for…

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