A Thaw in the Matrix
December 23, 2016 7:13 PM   Subscribe

Virus, Coal, and Seed: Subcutaneous Life in the Polar North: Anthrax, Coal, Flu, and the Global Seed Bank on Svalbard. The 2016 average annual temperature on Svalbard is projected to be above freezing for the first time ever. posted by Rumple (18 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
Syria war spurs opening of 'doomsday' Arctic seed vault

As Aleppo gene bank built to safeguard global food supplies is at risk, researchers request frozen seeds from Svalbard.

The need to make a withdrawal from Svarlbard was always going to be depressing, but to restock the Aleppo one because we blew it up poses a question. How do we protect them from human folly?
posted by adept256 at 7:36 PM on December 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think the Aleppo seed bank was moved to Beirut, so it may not be as reckless as it appears. But point taken. And Svalbard facility is supposed to remain passively frozen for 10,000 years. Um.
posted by Rumple at 7:40 PM on December 23, 2016


You know what you get when you melt a landscape that's held together by permafrost?

Landslides.

You know what landslides cause?

Tsunamis.

In an arctic that hasn't had to deal with big waves for thousands of years. Now that we don't have much ice there year-round, we're going to be seeing the effects of erosion accelerating.
posted by MrVisible at 9:13 PM on December 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


It's pretty fucked up if we go through all that trouble to eradicate smallpox and then it comes back because of global warming.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 11:44 PM on December 23, 2016 [6 favorites]


I think it would be a sort of telling marker, tho--no? 'Do you remember that weird interlude in History when there was relatively cheap energy, no smallpox, universal suffrage in the first world, and a literate populace? Wild!'

(* returns to slave-gang labor burning charcoal overseen by local warlord with AK-47 knockoff made by robot *)
posted by mrdaneri at 7:04 AM on December 24, 2016 [9 favorites]


"Was that when antibiotics actually worked?" "yeah"
posted by rmd1023 at 8:19 AM on December 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


*Prays to chipped TRMP icon carried in worn, leather necklace*

'No fear, mate. Our faith sustains us yet.'
posted by mrdaneri at 8:38 AM on December 24, 2016


[adjusts MAGA hat on fellow zombie]

Mission accomplished!
posted by spitbull at 8:41 AM on December 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


In the previously, at the bottom, lurks my very first Metafilter post, from 2002.

It's about how cold it is in Svalbard. Oh well.
posted by dglynn at 11:09 AM on December 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


That first link is a very compelling read!
posted by brambleboy at 11:33 AM on December 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Svalbard will probably become part of Russia during the upcoming wave of expansion. The Russians will probably take as good stewardship of it as expected; i.e., the vault will be stripped down for whatever the local gangsters can sell for scrap, much like the shielding on all those nuclear-powered automated lighthouses in the Arctic.
posted by acb at 12:10 PM on December 24, 2016


You know what you get when you melt a landscape that's held together by permafrost?

Yes: A fuckton of methane causing accelerated climate change causing accelerated permafrost melt causing fucktons more methane causing accelerated climate change causing accelerated permafrost melt causing fucktons more methane causing accelerated climate change causing accelerated permafrost melt causing fucktons more methane causing accelerated climate change causing accelerated permafrost melt causing fucktons more methane causing accelerated climate change causing accelerated permafrost melt causing fucktons more methane causing accelerated climate change causing accelerated permafrost melt causing fucktons more methane causing accelerated climate change causing accelerated permafrost melt causing fucktons more methane causing accelerated climate change causing accelerated permafrost melt causing fucktons more methane causing accelerated climate change causing accelerated permafrost melt causing fucktons more methane causing accelerated climate change causing accelerated permafrost melt causing fucktons more methane causing a new Venus.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:31 PM on December 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


So that's the optomist's view, anyone care to share a pessimistic take on it?
posted by maxwelton at 1:25 PM on December 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


Svalbard facility is supposed to remain passively frozen for 10,000 years.

Goodness. I expect that will seem adorably naive to humans 10 years from now, let alone 10,000.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 4:34 PM on December 24, 2016


Well, Sys Rq, I wasn't going to go there. But since you mentioned it, the East Siberian Sea is so shallow in most places that the methane won't be consumed by bacteria before it enters the atmosphere. And there's a lot of methane under there. And it's already bubbling up, in columns kilometers wide.

I don't, however, think we're in danger of becoming Venus. But I do think we'll make the atmosphere unbreathable for ourselves pretty fast, so it's not much consolation.
posted by MrVisible at 8:15 PM on December 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


MrVisible, note that that semi-reassuring article is about the relatively minuscule effect of human-produced CO2 alone, sidestepping the whole "and then it triggers an irreversible, naturally-occuring, self-perpetuating feedback loop of methane release" issue entirely.

Merry Christmas!
posted by Sys Rq at 11:45 AM on December 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


> So that's the optomist's view, anyone care to share a pessimistic take on it?

This pessimist's take is that this is the preliminary to major ocean acidification leading to the extinction of oxygen-excreting critters that supply what we need to breathe. I'm glad to be in my old age, but so, so very sorry for my descendants.
posted by anadem at 8:37 PM on December 25, 2016 [3 favorites]




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