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After 4 Years, Checking Up on The Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Stashed in: Science!, Culture, Winner take all., Survivor!, Plants!, Europe, Science Too

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Norway is the host of a gigantic project to preserve agricultural diversity. With this and their recently announced project to digitize all Norwegian books they are now in the lead to survive the apocalypse.

How can a country with so few people do so many great things?

I went to a mixer at the Norwegian Innovation Center in Palo Alto a couple months ago, and they gave me an answer. Historically they have had relatively few natural resources, and therefore no overclass of aristocrats like in Sweden or Denmark. Survival in Norway required teamwork and sharing and expertise.

So now when they have a windfall from this giant oil deposit, the government basically took ownership of the whole thing and is carefully spending the money to try to develop businesses that will be relevant in the future. It's very hard for someone from America to understand this type of mentality! Here or in Russia, the oil would belong to a very few extremely rich corporations or oligarchs. In other countries it would become the booty of corrupt government officials.

BTW this conversation happened during the US government shutdown of 2013... something that the Norwegians COMPLETELY could not understand!!! :)

Wow, it comes down to culture.

Culturally they're more prepared to spend their resources for the common good than fight each other for it, winner-take-all style.

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