This story makes the design/management of that place look really bad. In 2007 the IPCC was predicting a 0.4 C average temperature rise by 2020 and about 1.0 C by 2040, etc. This isn't too far off from what happened, so this makes it look like they did not plan ahead at all.
 http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/syr/ar4_syr_spm... (Figure SPM.5)
It's kind of a "waste" of human effort to do manual pollination like that rather than having insects do it "for free", but in an emergency, if that's all you've got, then it can be done.
It also seems to me like this kind of work would be ripe for automation with robots or drones somewhere down the line if, say, most bees wound up dying out and humans were forced to pollinate by hand at a large scale.
blog - http://www.radiolab.org/story/how-important-bee__kw/
Better to have friendly insects do it, but if you want the fruits, having humans step in is viable (it is or at least has been done for apples in China).
There's also a lot of plants that self or wind pollinate (most grains).
>"It was designed as an impregnable deep-freeze to protect the world’s most precious seeds from any global disaster and ensure humanity’s food supply forever."
Sorry, but isn't that the entire point of a "doomsday vault". To protect from doomsday events, like extreme climate change?
I visited the vault a few years ago and was very disappointed to learn this. I had imagined some committee planning what we need to get back from Mad Max to normal. But it's really more like a bank lock box.
“We have to find solutions. It is a big responsibility and we take it very seriously. We are doing this for the world.”
“This is supposed to last for eternity,” said Åsmund Asdal at the Nordic Genetic Resource Centre, which operates the seed vault.
Were warnings from people who predicted flooding ignored for some reason, like warning of concerned NASA engineers about the safety of the Space Shuttle? Or did no one honestly predict flooding in a region covered by snow despite global warming?
There could be some valuable lessons here for participants in Long Now and similar projects.
I really want to believe that this is an example of poor communication by the journalist as opposed to clueless passivity by administrators. Unfortunately, I suspect it's accurate.
Nothing is fool proof to a sufficiently talented fool!
Guess it wasn't all that fail safe after all
I don't blame the organizers for that, it's a lot harder to raise money for protecting biodiversity than for making weapon systems, but this outcome suggests to me that our institutional cooperation models of governance are not working well.
It was a predictably stupid decision, and the only surprising part is that the stupidity became obvious so early rather than 50 or 75 years from now as more conservative models of climate change suggested could be the case.
I am absolutely in favor of projects like this that are built to maximize survivability of ecosystems in the face of unpredictable change. But you are saying that all risks are equivalent over the long term and it's impossible to choose between them, which I think is an absurd copout.
The reality here is that there wasn't enough money or political will to invest in something more obviously permanent, so we ended up with a shitty system that has started to fail within a single decade, will now probably have to be decommissioned (because the problem is only likely to get worse), and we've got to start over. It's not a total write-off, much valuable work has been done, but it's plain that trying to cheap out on the location was a dreadful false economy.
Nothing personal but this mode of argument seems both fallacious and unhelpful. I suggested an alternative (a somewhat accessible mountain cave) grounded in real-world experience (actual locations of military command centers). I don't understand why you chose to ignore one half of a short comment in order to produce a facile refutation of the other half.