jueves, 23 de junio de 2016

Is this safest place in the world?

A special vault has been built in the Arctic to store thousands of seeds, as scientists fear the impact of climate change and prolonged conflicts could have devastating consequences on food crops around the world.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and answer the questions below.

1 How often do scientists get the deliveries of seeds?
2 How many lines of securities are there?
3 What has the store been designed for?
4 How long can the crops survive?
5 What's the temperature in the last barrier to the store?
6 How many plastic packets with seeds are there?
7 Apart from drought, what other threat is mentioned?

In the punishing cold of an Arctic mountain, in the remote Svalbard islands, a doorway leads to what is meant to be the safest place on earth. Scientists are on their way, approaching through this isolated and hostile terrain. And I am with them. As they are carry a precious cargo of seeds, to be kept out of the way
of whatever climate change might bring.
How often do you get these deliveries?
We have deliveries three times a year.
The box of seeds is about to go through the first line of security. There are half a dozen in all. I have just come down the access tunnel that is cut into the mountain. This place is 130 metres above sea level, because if the worst happens and global warming melts all of the polar icecaps, this project will still be safe. The deeper inside the mountain we go, the more the temperature drops. The store is designed to survive any natural disaster.
The seeds can last here for a very long time. It depends on what the crop is, but some of the crops may survive for more than 4,000 years.
You're really imagining this place functioning, keeping the seeds safe for 4,000 years?
It's difficult to say. I'm sure that the pharoahs thought their pyramids would last long, and they did.
The last barrier to the store itself. Inside here, it is minus 18 Celsius. The rows of shelves are filling up with seeds from all over the world. There are samples of nearly half of the most important food crops, brought here just in case. Samples of seeds used to be held in glass test tubes. Now they are kept in little plastic packets and there are more than 800,000 of these in this vault. Everywhere you look there are examples of why this place matters.
There are seeds from Syria, plants that are good at coping with drought, and some have just been returned to the Middle East. When harvests are ruined by extremes of weather, having backup copies of key seeds is essential.
Another threat is flooding, which can damage national stores of seeds. This happened in the Philippines. And with industrial scale farming, most food comes from just a dozen varieties of plants, so keeping different genetic types helps to guarantee supplies.
It is for the survival of mankind in the future. We need diversity. All the different kinds of plant material, to get food for the future. We have a lot of problems now, climate change, environmental problems, and to tackle that, we need genetic variation.
So, in these remote mountains, this place is meant to be a safeguard against apocalypse, an insurance policy for a warming world.
David Shukman, BBC News, in Svalbard in the Arctic.

1 Three times a year 
2 Half a dozen (6)
3 To survive any natural disaster
4 (For more than) 4,000 years 
5 -18ºC
6 800,00
7 Flooding