The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is "supposed to last for eternity", yet didn't take the effects of climate change into consideration in its design and construction. One might wonder which "unknown unknowns" it's not quite ready for either.
So as stated at the beginning of my previous post, yes, I've decided to shut down this hand-coded From Filmers to Farmers blog of mine. I'm guessing you've never heard of the term "hand-coded blog" before (as opposed to just "blog") and might not even know what it means. If that's the case then you're about to find out what exactly it is that it means, because it's via hand-coding that I inadvertently ended up starting this haphazard blog in the first place.
For starters, and having a thoroughly incomplete 190,000+ word manuscript called From Filmers to Farmers: From Couch Potatoes to Potato Cultivators collecting dust on the shelf for about four years now, it was back in 2014 (as I came off of my 5-year hiatus from the Internet) that I decided to purchase the fromfilmerstofarmers.com domain for unknown future considerations, and/or to just ward of an enterprising individual from somehow overhearing the title of my manuscript, snatching up the domain, then either holding it for ransom and/or just plopping a porn site on it in order to get me to cough up some cash. Following my purchase of the domain I got the obtuse idea that I ought to put up a splash page on it, resulting in me teaching myself a bit of coding (HTML and CSS) so I could do so. The splash page was, however, rather ugly.
Due to my preoccupation with that excruciatingly long third Svalbard post I put up a couple of weeks ago I'm a bit late to the Google / James Damore ordeal, perhaps a bit of a blessing in disguise for Damore since this may very well be construed as giving him the luxury of a sixteenth minute of fame. If you missed all the hubbub, Damore's the guy that got fired from Google back in August for voicing his thoughts on why there are fewer women employed in tech industries than men. Selling himself as a brave truth teller, Damore followed up his dismissal from Google with an opinion piece that appeared in the Wall Street Journal in which he stated that
Echo chambers maintain themselves by creating a shared spirit and keeping discussion confined within certain limits. As Noam Chomsky once observed, "The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum."
So with part 1 in this series having explained how the Svalbard Global Seed Vault might be even less secure than what's been recently conveyed by the popular press, and with part 2 having relayed just two of which could have been many more statements that might cajole somebody into questioning the motivations behind the Svalbard Global Seed Vault itself, a not-quite undeserved query to come about from all this might therefore be something along the lines of "What then could the purpose of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault effectively be?"
As odd as it sounds, I can't help but think that it's so ridiculously easy to point fingers at the short-sightedness of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault that not only is it also all-too-easy to label it as the "Vault of Doom", but that this can lead one to miss out on the much more dire issue of what the Vault represents in the present.
If we look at the Vault's layout, it turns out that the access tunnel from its main door was designed and built to slope downwards, a rather questionable idea when you think about the effects that gravity tends to have on permafrost and snow when they get above 0℃. Why in the world was the Svalbard Global Seed Vault designed in such a way? As put by Hege Njaa Aschim of the Norwegian government (owner of the Vault),
The construction was planned like that because it was practical as a way to go inside...
In other words, the vault was designed with depositing seeds in mind, not withdrawing them. I'm venturing into the land of absurdity again, because if you know anything about seed saving then you know that it is in fact extremely beneficial to keep seeds stored in complete darkness, although it's also just as true that black holes can be a tad too dark.
The sheer sensationalism of doom-laden Internet headlines doled out by journalists raised on Hollywood disaster movies (and now clickbait) recently reared their ugly head again, this time in regards to the venerated Svalbard Global Seed Vault. I'm no fan of what some have misleadingly nicknamed the "Doomsday Seed Vault", but with journalists narrowly clamouring on about some recent hiccoughs that the Vault experienced does the greater catastrophe that the Vault represents get obfuscated. Those recent hiccoughs are certainly nothing to scoff at (as I'll explain), but by missing out on the greater implications they imply does the fundamental problems of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault get missed, those being that not only is the Vault not a "Doomsday Seed Vault" but, and as I'll explain in part 2, that it transforms seed saving into something akin to the art of taxidermy.
It's comfortably accepted by many that what we in the first-world countries currently live in is a post-industrial era, an era in which a transition has been made from manufacturing-based economies to service sector-based economies. But to put truth to the lie, "post-industrialism" is polite speak for "a gutted manufacturing sector whose jobs were offshored to countries where wages were lower, enacted so that deep pockets could be deepened and so that those whose employment existed in higher echelons than the offshored could gain access to cheaper products." *
But if you giddily follow along with the rags and raggees extolling the idea of "post-industrialism" then you couldn't be blamed for then thinking that what we've now entered is no less than the post-energy era. Because according to the article "The World's Most Valuable Resource is No Longer Oil, But Data" via none other than The Economist, "data [is] the oil of the digital era". And not just any data, but Big Data.
But before I get to the book, it's worth reiterating from said previous post the notion that just as the coal lobbies, nuclear lobbies, and all the other "dirty" fuel lobbies are wont to exaggerate and obfuscate the specifics of their energy resources, so too are lobbyists for the large-scale application of "renewable" energy sources more than willing to exaggerate, obfuscate, and even fudge the facts when it comes to conveying the benefits and advantages of their energy resources. And as I also pointed out, the latter is just as often the work of PR agencies and other marketeers, the goal effectively being anything but conveying a clear understanding of our current energy situation. Friedemann perfectly explains why this is (italics mine):
In business, ...analysis is essential to prevent bankruptcy. Yet when scientists find oil, coal, and natural gas production likely to peak within decades, rather than centuries, or that ethanol, solar photovoltaic, tar sands, oil shale, and other alternative energy resources have a low or even negative energy return on the energy invested, they are ignored and called pessimists, no matter how solid their findings. For every one of their peer-reviewed papers, there are thousands of positive press releases with breakthroughs that never pan out, and economists promising perpetual growth and energy independence. Optimism is more important than facts. And, it's essential for attracting investors.
Follow the headlines and you can hardly be blamed for thinking that we're on the cusp of a monumental renaissance, one that'll usher us into a renewable energy paradise and allow us to maintain our profligate first-world standard of living for... well, forever!
My favourite recent headline indicative of this supposed renaissance came via the website Ecowatch (by no means a lowly-ranked website), which proclaimed in one of its article's titles that "California Generates Enough Solar Power to Meet Half its Energy Needs".
Well kinda half – "haaaalf." For as the article's second paragraph states,
Recent data shows California coming through. The state briefly generated enough solar power to meet nearly half of the state's electricity needs, according to data from the largest grid operator in the state, California ISO.
Let's break down this paragraph and the title of the article from which it came from: