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WORLD ORGANIC NEWS - mrjonmoore - Conservation Farming, Permaculture, organic gardening, organic farming, renewable energy, Climate Change.


May 21, 2017

Links

What happened to the “fail-safe” Svalbard seed vault designed to save us from crop failure.

http://wp.me/p5Cqpo-ffT

Washington Post: preposterously warm winter

Inside Climate news: began melting at an alarming rate

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This is the World Organic News for the week ending 22nd of May 2017.

Jon Moore reporting!

This week we bring troubling news. The seedbank at Svalbard was flooded. I’m sure we can all understand that mixing seeds and water is not ideal for long term preservation of said seed stocks. There is, though, much more to this than first meets the eye.

Svalbard was the doomsday defense for humanity’s food seeds. So far above the arctic circle and never above -18degrees C that’s around zero degrees F, the facility was set up as a set and forget operation. The ground temperature rarely varied, the ground continually frozen, a safe place for our food seeds.

All this sounds great but and I quote:

Quote:

The Arctic experienced a preposterously warm winter last season, and the permafrost, which has been thawing in recent years, suddenly began melting at an alarming rate. The region near the seed vault experienced heavy rain when it should have been snowing. The resulting breach at Svalbard is making experts question the “fail-safe” nature of the vault.

End Quote

Where are we now? For a start Svalbard is not longer set and forget, it’s monitored daily. The seeds are, apparently, still safe. It is also worth remembering that Svalbard is not the only seed bank in the world. It is, as a seed library, a lender of last resort but it’s collected seeds are also held in other seed banks across the globe. Maybe putting some samples of all our seed types in one place may have been more of an ”all your eggs in one basket” sort of decision. Equally I can see having everything in one place is great for research and convenience.

The water never reached the seed collections. This is a good thing.

Quote:

Water flooded into the entrance tunnel to the vault after the unusual season, the Guardian reported Friday (May 19).Thankfully, the water froze before it reached the seed storage areas (to preserve their viability, seeds are stored at -18 Celsius, or just below 0 degrees Fahrenheit).

End Quote.

But, perhaps more than the seed saving implications are the climate change signals this flooding points to.

Permafrost is high in contained methane. That is methane that is locked away from the atmosphere. Methane in the atmosphere is CO2 on steroids. It does however wash out of the system relatively quickly. It is gone in a few years not few centuries as is the case with CO2.

So to the big question: Was the warm winter just experienced in the Northern Hemisphere a one off or sign of things to come? There is no way to tell. The nature of these things is multivariable and difficult to predict. What I’ve noticed in the past twelve months is a strange slowing of weather events. Last southern Summer when the permafrost was melting in the northern hemisphere, we in Australia were subject, twice, to a series of low pressure systems lining up from the north west to the south east. These had the effect of funneling desert air which is, not surprisingly, hot down from the deserts into New South Wales. Temperatures of 46 degrees C, or around 115 degrees F into regions where this is not common. Yes we’ve had hot spells before but this was different. The systems stayed in place for days, almost a week. In the past a hot spell of around 40 to 42 would last two days, or so, and then we’d be hit with a southerly cold change. Not this time. The systems broke up slowly and the temperatures returned to “normal” in air quotes, temperatures of 30 - 35 degrees C. We are now in Autumn and a similar slowdown in systems is occurring. We were fortunate last weekend that the predicted systems bringing rain drifted off shore before dumping a month's average rainfall in a day. We still had rain but most of it fell over the ocean. The point here was the forecast for an extremely slow moving system, again.

Opposite ends of the world, Norway and Australia, changes in weather patterns. Anecdotal evidence, not data, yet. Toss in the rising sea levels and relocation of peoples in low lying Pacific Islands and the Maldives in the Indian Ocean and we probably have enough effects to actually start marching in the streets to force our politicians to get of their behinds and make some actual decisions for our good not the good of lobbying vested interests stuck in a world of fossil fuels, industrial agriculture and subsidies.

A further piece in the puzzle fell into place for me back in January. I was watching a news report on farming and this farmer, a fourth generation farmer on the same piece of land stated he and dad used to start silage cutting in the first week of November, he starts in the last week of August. Ten weeks earlier, just let that sink in for a moment. Pasture growth has changed so much, he start harvesting feed for next winter, ten weeks earlier that he or his father had ever done before.

I think there are sufficient signs for us to take action. Svalbard may have been set up as our seedbank of last resort, the thawing of the permafrost and the flooding of the entrance may be off even greater value to us as a species. It may, nay, it should be the last warning we need to actually redesign, rebuild and renew our ways of doing things. Yes the world is preoccupied with the childish tantrums of North Korea and US politics, the Middle East and any number of other power plays yet these pale into insignificance before the bigger picture the flooded and frozen entrance to a remote seedbank has revealed.

To repeat someone else’s words, and I don’t know who or I would acknowledge them: Maybe it’s time to stop fighting over who created the Earth and start fighting those who are destroying our life support systems !

And on that thought we will end this week’s episode.

If you’ve liked what you heard, please tell everyone you know any way you can! I’d also really appreciate a review on iTunes. This may or may not help others to find us but it gives this podcaster an enormous thrill! Thanks in advance!

Any suggestions, feedback or criticisms of the podcast or blog are most welcome. email me at podcast@worldorganicnews.com.

Thank you for listening and I'll be back in a week.

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Links

What happened to the “fail-safe” Svalbard seed vault designed to save us from crop failure.

http://wp.me/p5Cqpo-ffT

Washington Post: preposterously warm winter

Inside Climate news: began melting at an alarming rate