The EarthArk Project is designed to save as much of the world’s accumulated life forms from destruction as possible. That includes wild species of all living things and not just the commercially viable seeds. The ultimate goal is to have samples of seeds and soil from every square kilometer of Earth put into 10,000 year cold storage. No human controlled refrigerator can be expected to perform for such an extended period of time but placing the stored material in a container high in Antarctica would work. The South Pole Station has a sub-surface temperature of -50 degrees and the surface occasionally reaches -100 degrees. At those very cold temperatures all biological activity ceases and so does almost all chemically caused deterioration. Virtually anything properly containerized high in Antarctica would remain functional for as long as humanity has raised crops, that is why I choose 10,000 years as my base time goal. There may be a global warming of five degrees before then which would be very troublesome for humanity but for our EarthArk storage site located high on an Antarctic mountain going from -50 to -45 wouldn’t make any difference to its survivability.
The completed EarthArk storage depot could grow to be quite large with over a thousand shipping containers. These should be placed on hard rock such as Mt. Vinson where there will be no glacial activity to move or destroy them. To accomplish the task of getting the complete EarthArk in place requires many people’s effort from all over the world. The Wikipedia model of many independent people cooperating towards a specific and achievable goal is what will probably prove most workable. The plan is for a few people from the millions of isolated places around the world to simply submit a kilogram size or less of local wild seeds and soil samples to the EarthArk. These could be sent by mail to a not too distant local collection point where they could be taken to a larger EarthArk container for the whole country. Once a container was fully loaded and clearly labeled as to its source location it would be flown to Antarctica and simply set in place amongst the community of other EarthArk containers.
These containers could be arranged to form the building bricks for a large structure which could be formed into habitable interior. Within this protected interior volume a small hotel could be built, which could be used for what ever maintenance, tabulation and security personnel were needed for the containers. After they are in place and documented they would require very little maintenance.
This EarthArk Project is obviously vastly larger than I can do by myself but I can do a tiny almost instant EarthArk which will illustrate how it can be done. I can collect and package a small container with tiny samples of some locally collected things and ship them to as high a place in Antarctica as is possible. Perhaps, I could send it with one of the expeditions which routinely send adventurers to the top of various mountains. All that would be required is having a small enough package which could be placed in the mountain climber’s backpack and he would place it in the memento cache located at the top of most mountains. That would be good because it would be a safe and yet easily identifiable location. It is important that they be easily findable in the future but not easily destroyed by any sort of scavenger. To do these mountain top EarthArks only requires finding those Outdoor Adventure Companies and asking those people going to these remote mountain tops to carry a small package and place it there as their personal memento. If the package wasn’t more than a half kilogram it wouldn’t be too much of a burden to carry and it would give their trip a little more purpose and their life quest more meaning. There could be an additional reward for them by keeping a publicly published list of people who had placed EarthArks in high mountain top places. This is similar to people sharing their computer off time for massively distributed computer projects like SETI but in this case it is in their back pack on a mountain top.
500 ml stainless steel canteen bottles like those in common use for portable water containers would be ideal for this purpose. The style with a stainless steel screw-in stopper would be best because they could be expected to remain fixed permanently especially if a retaining wire were wrapped over the top and around the neck. The EarthArk logo and basic information could be printed on the outside and specific information could be etched or scratched onto the side. These cans with the logo and information could be manufactured in quantity and sent to high schools and colleges throughout the world. They could have pre-paid postage as part of their outside design. Thus after they had been used for a while as regular water containers, advertising The EarthArk Project, they could be filled with local seeds and soil samples and simply placed in a local mailbox. From the mailbox they would find their way to an appropriate shipping center where they would be placed in a larger container destined for Antarctica. Alternatively, their contents could be emptied into a more convenient EarthArk container and the canteen sent back out into some area which needs more collection. This reminds me of the way glass beverage bottles were recycled many times before single use aluminum ones became available.
The very first bottled EarthArks could simply be sent to Adventure Sponsors who could give them to their clients before they started their climbs. As the idea became more widespread and accepted and large monetary donors were found it would be possible to mass produce the bottles. Once these were available in quantity they could be shipped to high schools and colleges all over the world where they could be used for a while and eventually filled by local kids with local wild things and dropped into their local mailbox.
This approach seems doable because there are personal rewards for people at every level. Everyone is helping to save their local environment from the problems of eventual global warming and other problems. It is a way to make people more aware of how to make our planet a better place not only for ourselves but for the people of the future.
A bottle of seeds with your name on it could help restore your whole countryside.