Millions of seeds, from every country in the world, are stored at a temperature of -18 degrees centigrade, representing 13,000 years of agricultural history. Primarily funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and various governments, the seed vault has already been used to replenish genebanks that have been devastated by war and catastrophe.
Svalbard - specifically the town of Longyearbyen, where the seed bank is located - was chosen due to the area's lack of tectonic activity, and its permafrost. Were the vault's refrigeration units to fail, the area's low annual temperature would keep the seeds below freezing for at least 200 years, with some grains potentially viable for thousands of years.
Except... the vault is now under threat, courtesy of global warming.
In 2016, it experienced an unusual amount of water leaking inside, due to higher than average temperatures, and today the story has broken that Longyearbyen - the northern-most town in the world - is warming faster than any other settlement on earth; 3.7-degrees centigrade since it was founded in 1900, roughly three times the global average.
Ironically, one of the threats the Svalbard Global Seed Vault was designed to protect the seeds from is climate change.
"What does any of this have to do with video games?", I hear you sob.
This: if gaming, as many of us are predicting, is skulking towards more of an on-demand, cloud-based, future... then we're going to need our own global games vault.
Preferably one with an entrance as cool as the one at Svalbard and with, like, holograms and shit.
Contrary to all appearances, I'm not an idiot. I know that preserving video games for future generations isn't quite as important as saving the seeds (though the way some people bleat on about it, you'd think making sure they have physical copies of all future Assassin's Creed sequels is more vital to them than ensuring that our species endures).
Global warming may be a whole different level of threat to, y'know... making sure that the people of the space year 2149AD can still play Horace And The Spiders, but something that has been quite apparent over the past week is that if Google and their ilk get their way, games aren't going to exist as they have done until now.
Part of the reason that retro gaming has become so established is because gaming, to date, has existed in a physical way; the consoles, the games... they were all tangible things that can be rubbed against your belly.
The inexorable transition to a cloud-based future makes all of that ephemeral; the only thing you're going to need is a screen, which can literally be any screen, and a controller. No more consoles. No more physical media. Collecting, in the traditional sense, will be a thing of the past. And no collecting means that in 20-30 years time... retro gaming is going to look very different.
The kids who are today enjoying Fortnite won't be able to visit a retro gaming fair and pick up a mint copy of it the way we can walk into a big hall full of old people and their kids, and a couple of teenagers dressed like Harley Quinn, and buy a boxed copy of Ocarina of Time.
Collectors won't be able to fill their shelves with copies of the games they grew up playing... because the shelves will be virtual, and the stuff on them will be virtual... and the only thing allowing us to play games for years will be how long delivery services like Stadia, or Apple Arcade, or Microsoft, choose to keep the games on their servers.
So, I get why that would be a concern. Not least if video games are all you've got going on in your life.
There's a fear expressed by some academics that, when future archeologists and historians attempt to understand where they came from, there's going to be a huge gap in the recorded history of our species, which will begin round the time the Internet was switched on.
That's only going to get worse, as we transition into more of a cloud-based, streaming, future.
Imagine some global catastrophe where electricity fails... when hard drives and servers are wiped. Imagine how much will be lost - from film, to books, to TV, to (yes) video games. You only have to have attempted retrieving data from a corrupted hard drive to know how difficult it can be. That would be the task of future historians - there'll be no digging around in the dirt to understand the art that their ancestors enjoyed.
They'll be sifting through server farms, piecing together fragments of a digital past... and wondering why we all feared a vengeful spirit called Momo. There are online preservation projects - such as the Internet Archive, ROM sites, GOG.com, and the like - but it's a digital form of preservation that only lasts as long as the Internet does.
Even then, you might be able to somehow store the data behind, say, Facebook or Twitter... but without the context for how we actually use social media.
How our ancestors lived their lives is pieced together from the physical artefacts they left behind. No artefacts = no way to understand this age of social media and The Cloud.
It's already becoming more difficult to preserve video games - which typically require some sort of proprietary hardware, and (too often) online connectivity to external serves, in order to work. That's only going to become harder still, with games existing only on external servers.
I don't have a solution as to how we preserve the games that are going to be released in the coming years, not least because I, for one, welcome our new cloud-based overlords.
Yet, at the same time, while I wouldn't regard myself as a collector - unless you include a collection of empty crisp packets on the floor next to my chair - I totally understand why people would be concerned, and feel it's something to be anxious about.
Nevertheless, I hope that somebody, somewhere, will already be considering this, and figuring out a way it can be done. It's rare that I revisit the games I played, say, 10 years ago, but I do dip back on occasion into the games I played in my formative years. They matter to me, because they make up part of the tapestry of who I am.
Much as we might mock Fortnite and Minecraft, I want that for future generations too, and some sort of concerted preservation effort - somehow archiving this stuff as it appears - is the only way to ensure they have it.
I mean, I'd do it, but I can't really be arsed.