If you want to keep something safe, build a mountain fortress above the Arctic Circle. That’s the thinking behind the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Almost every nation keeps collections of native seeds so local crops can be replanted in case of an agricultural disaster. The Global Seed Vault, opened in 2008 on the far-northern Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, is a backup for the backups. It’s badly needed as many as half the seed banks in developing countries are at risk from natural disasters or general instability. The vault can hold up to 4.5 million samples, which will be kept dry at about 0°F (-18°C). Even if the facility loses power, the Arctic climate should keep the seeds viable for thousands of years.
If all of the adults on the planet could migrate to the countries where they wanted to live, the world would be a very different place. Developed nations would be overwhelmed and many developing countries would be left relatively empty.
Gallup has gathered data over the past three years and come up with a Potential Net Migration Index (PNMI) that shows just how drastic this change could be.
Listed below are some of the more interesting findings.
Rank by Percent Change
Country, Percentage Change, Population Change
1. Singapore - 260% (+13 million)
2. Saudi Arabia -180% (+48 million)
4. Canada - 170% (+57 million) [Canada would rank 14th in world population]
9. France - 70% (+45 million)
10. United Kingdom - 65% (+40 million)
12. United States - 60% (+186 million) [Greatest Population Gain]
15. Botswana - 55% (+1 million)
28. Germany - 15% (+12 million)
32. Japan - 5% (+6 million)
36. Thailand - 0% (no change) [Isreal, South Korea, and Tajikstan also have no change]
41. China - -5% (-65 million)
48. India - -5% (-55 million)
172. Nigeria - -50% (-80 million) [Greatest Population Loss]
178. Democratic Republic of Congo - -60% (-40 million)
Source: Gallup World Poll
Between 1845 and 1855 Ireland lost a third of its population—1 million people died from starvation and disease and 2 million emigrated. The decimation of the potato crop in the 1840s brought on the danger of mass starvation, but it was Britain's calculated response that perpetuated the tragedy.
Contrary to popular opinion, the conditions of a famine did not truly exist in Ireland during this time. During the ten year period, researchers have estimated that the island produced enough food to feed 18 million people, more than double its population at the time. English protestant landowners had access to a varied diet and the Irish economy as a whole remained a profitable exporter of grain, pork, beef and fish.
The problem for the Irish people was that they had limited access to these native food resources. British penal law, first instituted in 1695, made it illegal for Irish Catholics to own land, apply for fishing or hunting licenses or to enter trades or professions. This forced the Irish to remain as sharecropping farmers subsisting on small rented farms owned by English Protestants. They relied almost exclusively on the sale of potatoes to pay rent to their landlords and buy food.
When a devastating water mold (phytophthora infestans) struck the potato harvest in 1845, the Irish were deprived of their only cash-crop. Many tried to eat the rotten potatoes and fell ill to cholera and typhus. Landlords evicted the starving tenants, or sent them to workhouses where overcrowding and poor conditions led to more starvation, sickness, and ultimately death. More sympathetic landlords paid the passage for their tenants to emigrate to America, Canada, and Australia. Ship owners took advantage of the situation and wedged hundreds of diseased and desperate Irish into ships that were hardly sea-worthy. These ships became known as "coffin ships" as more than one-third of the passengers died on the voyage.
The belief that the famine was God’s intention guided much of Britain’s policy in their management of the crisis. They viewed the crop failures as “a Visitation of Providence, an expression of divine displeasure” with Ireland and its mostly Catholic peasant population.
The British government in Ireland, led by Sir Charles Trevelyan, was far more concerned with modernizing the Irish economy and reforming its people’s “aboriginal” nature than with saving lives. Trevelyn described the famine as an "effective mechanism for reducing surplus population" and that "the real evil with which we have to contend is not the physical evil of the Famine, but the moral evil of the selfish, perverse and turbulent character of the people".
Trevelyan and other leading British officials had a direct hand in filling newspapers with the idea that the famine was the result of a flaw in the Irish character. Punch, a satirical magazine, regularly portrayed 'Paddy’ as a simian in a tailcoat and a derby, engaged in plotting murder, battening on the labour of the English workingman, and generally living a life of indolent treason. The result of such dehumanizing propaganda was to make unreasonable policy seem more reasonable and just.
Trevelyan never expressed remorse for his policies even after the full scope (approximately 1 million lives) of the Irish famine became known.
Sources: John Kelly's 'The Graves are Walking: The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish People' and Tim Pat Coogan's 'The Famine Plot: England’s Role in Ireland’s Greatest Tragedy'
The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro is a Roman Catholic church located in the West African country of Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast). The basilica was constructed between 1985 and 1989 at a cost of $600 million (adjusted for inflation). Upon its completion it was declared as the largest church in the world, surpassing the previous record holder, St. Peter’s Basilica. It has an area of 322,917 square feet and is 518 feet high (roughly the height of a 40 story skyscraper).
The basilica is constructed with marble imported from Italy and is furnished with 75,000 square feet of contemporary stained glass from France. Columns are plentiful throughout the basilica but are not uniform in style; the smaller columns are there for structural reasons, while the bigger ones are decoration and contain elevators and pipes for rainwater. There is enough space to seat 7,000 people inside the dome, with standing room for an additional 11,000 people. Apart from the basilica there are two identical buildings, serving as a rectory and private papal villa, respectively. The villa is reserved for papal visits, of which only one has occurred: when the basilica was consecrated by Pope John Paul II on September 10, 1990.
Rather than place the monument in the country’s metropolitan center, Abidijan, Côte d'Ivoire President Félix Houphouët-Boigny chose his birthplace of Yamoussoukro to be the site of the church. As construction was nearly completed, the president commissioned a stained glass window of his image to be placed beside a gallery of stained glass of Jesus and the apostles. This image depicts him as one of the three Biblical Magi, kneeling as he offers a gift to Jesus.
The basilica has been met with global controversy since its conception. The lavishly built basilica sits in the middle of the African bush in an impoverished town where only a small number of homes have running water and adequate sanitation. The cost of the basilica doubled the national debt of Côte d'Ivoire, which overtime, would lead the country down a path toward political violence and social unrest.