Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Beans and global catastrophes

click photo to enlarge
What is the most important resource on earth? You could argue that it is the libraries and computers that hold a record of the sum of human knowledge. If a natural or man-made disaster almost obliterated life on our planet then the written record of mankind would surely be the invaluable resource that enabled the surviving humans to rebuild our civilization.

On the other hand there's also a strong case to be made for an underground building on the Svalbard archipelago of the island of Spitzbergen in Arctic Norway being the most valuable resource in the world in such an eventuality. Here is the so-called "doomsday vault", more properly called the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It houses in its subterranean caverns millions of seeds from around the world, examples that could be used to re-establish agriculture if the seedbanks elsewhere on the globe were lost. This particular location was chosen for the underground site, its height above sea level, the relative absence of tectonic activity and the permafrost, all of which should ensure the continuity of the seeds should a global catastrophe occur.

The Boughen household has a seed vault too, but it is a much less grand affair! It comprises a few envelopes of seeds saved from the previous year's flowers and vegetables. A while ago I was looking at the runner bean and dwarf bean seeds that we had collected, and decided that they might make a good subject for a blog post. So, to accentuate the contrast between the purples and mauves of the bigger runner beans with the beige (and occasional yellow) of the dwarf beans, I arranged them in stripes and took this shot with the macro lens.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 35mm macro (70mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/6
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: 0EV
Image Stabilisation: Off