Spitsbergen: Doomsday Vault

(ORDO NEWS) — There are several points on the world map where the coronavirus has not yet penetrated. And God forbid them to hold out further. These health oases are very far from Europe. Except for one. And it is located just on the territory of a European state. This oasis is called the Spitsbergen archipelago.

With things on the way out

By all accounts, the authorities of the archipelago were quick and blocked access to their land in time. Fortunately, this is not so difficult to do. Spitsbergen belongs to Norway, but is separated from it by the northern seas. The climate in the archipelago is harsh, so not so many people live there. In the summer season, about 2,700 people are recruited, and by winter everyone on a short-term contract returns to the mainland, and about 1,500 people remain to watch the northern lights. You can isolate them from the outside world very quickly. And that was done.

As soon as the global viral threat was announced and Norway was quarantined, all foreign tourists in Svalbard (and there were 130 of them at that time) were ordered to pack up and prepare for their return home. On the morning of March 16, all the “come in large numbers” were simultaneously taken out by a special plane from the territory of the archipelago. Only permanent residents and those who were sent on business for a long time remained in place. Very strict rules have been set for onward visits to Spitsbergen. If anyone had a nosebleed to get to the northernmost city of Norway – Longyearbyen, he had to honestly quarantine on the mainland for a full two weeks. And then after the flight for the same two weeks to sit in isolation already in place. And the harsh measures fully justified themselves: so far not a single person has fallen ill on the archipelago! So much for people

In the belly of the mountain

“Well, just Noah’s ark!” – someone will exclaim. And it will not be far from the truth – for this reason: it is on Spitsbergen that they are stored – and not even in pairs, as in the Bible, but much more! – the seeds of all the most important crops on the planet. A special bunker was built for them in 2008 by the forces of world powers. It is called the World Seed Vault. A huge tunnel goes 120 meters into the mountain. On the surface, you can only see the door, which every Svalbard tourist is eager to look at. All the valuable contents of the bunker are arranged according to the principle of matryoshka: seeds are in envelopes, envelopes are in plastic bags, and those are in containers. These containers take up their assigned shelf space in separate compartments belonging to different countries. The compartments are separated by airlocks, which are tightly locked with anti-explosion doors. There are three halls in the womb of the mountain, of which only one is currently in use. The storage is designed for 2.25 billion seeds, but so far it has collected a little more than 900 thousand. But even this amount is already enough in case, if suddenly – God forbid! – a giant cataclysm will occur on the planet and survivors will need to re-provide themselves with food. The main thing is to leave a place where these seeds can be sown …

And recently another bank of open source software appeared in Svalbard. Engineers of computer companies have collected 21 terabytes of information (1 terabyte – 1024 gigabytes), which may also be needed for “the same” case. These are codes of operating programs for Windows, Linux, Android and 6 thousand applications. They were recorded on special drives and delivered to the archipelago shortly before the pandemic. Like plant seeds, computer information will be stored deep underground in permafrost conditions. An old coal mine near the seed bank was chosen for the new bank.

Fortunately, for people hiding from the coronavirus, it was not necessary to build a protective bunker in any mine yet. But if necessary, there is a place for him. There are plenty of mines in the archipelago. And almost all of them are abandoned. Coal, which was once actively sold to different countries, is now needed only to heat the homes of local residents.

Live and rejoice!

Now let’s imagine a hypothetical situation: Spitsbergen is the only place on Earth where there is no coronavirus. Will the remaining people be able to survive on it? Considering the above – quite. Besides, unlike the shipwrecked, they are provided with everything they need. Do you have any dwellings? There is. Do you have any clothes? There is. There are cars. There are snowmobiles. And a lot more, including coal as fuel. When gadgets fail, people will use the digital bank. And if you open one of the containers with seeds, you can start growing in greenhouses, for example, tomatoes … And fish in the sea? What about seals? Any family will be able to hunt any kind of meat, because there are even firearms on the archipelago, and in abundance. Every person, including the mustache student, newcomer to the archipelago (excluding tourists),

Yes, this predator poses a real threat in Svalbard. There are a lot of bears on all the islands of the archipelago, and they often go to human habitation. Therefore, it is forbidden to go somewhere in the white spaces “for a picnic” without a gun. True, it is impossible to kill the beast without good justification. The white bear is included in the Red Book, and each case of his murder is separately considered by the authorities.

A completely real story from the past confirms that it is quite possible to survive on Svalbard in isolation from the rest of the world. In 1743, four Russian hunters landed on Edge Island, led by the helmsman Alexei Khimkov. Their ship was covered with ice, and the sailors had almost no supplies left. Nevertheless, the island itself gave them shelter and food. They found springs with clean water. And a hut with a stove that someone built here before them! With the help of a spear and a bow with arrows, which they made from wooden debris thrown ashore, as well as a single gun and an ax, the Pomors managed to get their livestock – bears, walruses, seals, polar foxes. And this is meat and skins. As a result, the sailors lived on the island for 6 years (!) And lasted until the happy day, when they were picked up by a passing Russian merchant ship. Truth, one in four died of scurvy. But they didn’t have a seed store “at hand” then.

Just don’t die!

In a word, Svalbard seems to have been specially created so that people would hide on it in the event of a global threat. But there is only one problem. And this is rubbish. In permafrost conditions, it does not decompose. This means that it will accumulate and accumulate. For this reason, the current inhabitants of the archipelago are forced to abide by strict rules. Garbage is not dumped on landfills or buried here. The only way to get rid of it is to take it to the continent. That is why food waste is put into special containers: they are equipped with strong lids and locks so that polar bears do not smell the smell and do not try to get inside. And “odorless” garbage – cars, snowmobiles, furniture – is sent for money to a landfill, where it is stored until it is picked up by a cargo plane. An even more rational way of disposal is to transfer used items to another person.

Export utilization is subject not only to household waste, but also … seriously ill people. There is no hospital in the archipelago where it would be possible to fully treat serious ailments. Therefore, all such patients are sent to the mainland. As well as women in labor. And if they do not have time? What if the person dies? The deceased is also taken out to the mainland … The fact is that it is highly undesirable to bury on Svalbard in permafrost conditions. The body does not decompose, but is mummified. Over time, the ice pushes it to the surface, and when summer comes (although cool, but still), polar bears smell the dead and want to eat them. However, there is no official law prohibiting dying on Spitsbergen. And therefore there is no punishment for its violation either. In general, if anything, you will not be fined …

Territory of the world

Therefore, those who were in Spitsbergen were lucky. By the way, there are our compatriots among the residents there. After all, this archipelago has a special status. In fact, it is a kind of “territory of the world”, although it formally belongs to Norway. In 1920, the Svalbard Treaty was signed, according to which military bases are prohibited on the archipelago, and the signatory countries have the right to work on it and at the same time live according to the laws of their homeland. And there are about fifty such countries!

But as a result, only two persons involved were firmly entrenched here – the Norwegians themselves and we, the Russians. The Norwegians have three settlements, including the capital of the Longyearbyen archipelago. We also have three settlements led by Barentsburg, and they are all miners. And for other “owners” of Spitsbergen, its territory is more politically virtual than real. However, when Svalbard International University opened in 1993, other countries began to show interest in the archipelago and send their students to study. But they did not build their own villages. What they probably regret bitterly now …

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