A project to revive long-gone species is a sideshow to the real extinction crisis
“We will get woolly mammoths back.” So vowed environmentalist Stewart Brand at the TED conference in Long Beach, Calif., in February in laying out his vision for reviving extinct species. The mammoth isn’t the only vanished creature Brand and other proponents of “de-extinction” want to resurrect. The passenger pigeon, Caribbean monk seal and great auk are among the other candidates—all species that blinked out at least in part because of Homo sapiens. “Humans have made a huge hole in nature in the last 10,000 years,” Brand asserted. “We have the ability now—and maybe the moral obligation—to repair some of the damage.”
Just a few years ago such de-extinction was the purview of science fiction. Now it is so near at hand that in March, Brand’s Long Now Foundation, along with TED and the National Geographic Society, convened an entire conference on the topic. Indeed, thanks to recent advances in cloning and the sequencing of ancient DNA, among other feats of biotechnology, researchers may soon be able to re-create any number of species once thought to be gone for good.
That does not mean that they should, however. The idea of bringing back extinct species holds obvious gee-whiz appeal and a respite from a steady stream of grim news. Yet with limited intellectual bandwidth and financial resources to go around, de-extinction threatens to divert attention from the modern biodiversity crisis. According to a 2012 report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, some 20,000 species are currently in grave danger of going extinct. Species today are vanishing in such great numbers—many from hunting and habitat destruction—that the trend has been called a sixth mass extinction, an event on par with such die-offs as the one that befell the dinosaurs (and much else) 65 million years ago. A program to restore extinct species poses a risk of selling the public on a false promise that technology alone can solve our ongoing environmental woes—an implicit assurance that if a species goes away, we can snap our fingers and bring it back.
Ironically, the de-extinction conference immediately followed the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meeting in Bangkok, which underscored just how devastating the trade has been. Reports released to coincide with the meeting revealed that between 2002 and 2011, the African forest elephant population declined by 62 percent from poaching; that fishing kills at least 100 million sharks a year—many of them members of imperiled species; and that between 2000 and 2012, an average of 110 tigers a year were killed (as few as 3,200 of the cats remain in the wild). Poachers slaughter 30,000 African elephants every year for their ivory—the highest kill rate since the 1980s. At this rate, the species could disappear in two decades. So could Africa’s rhinos, prized for their horns.
Already conservationists face difficult choices about which species and ecosystems to try to save, since they cannot hope to rescue them all.
The Latest Bing News on:
Extinct Species Back from the Dead
- Equilibrium/Sustainability — ‘Disaster math’ could avert human extinctionon August 1, 2022 at 2:32 pm
Climate change could lead to “global catastrophes” up to and including human extinction, a new study has found. And scientists and policymakers are making it more likely by failing to face ...
- As species recover, some threaten others in more dire shapeon August 1, 2022 at 12:36 pm
In a forest near Lake Michigan, two scientists attached a backpack tracking device to a merlin they'd lured into a net. The mission: help prevent the predatory species from gobbling up piping plovers ...
- Migratory monarch butterfly now classified as Endangeredon July 27, 2022 at 12:11 pm
It’s troubling news for an insect that represents nature at its most powerful — a tiny, delicate creature that can travel nearly 3000 miles from the northern US and southern Canada to its ...
- Rare animals that returned from the brink of extinction - from Takahe to Coelacanthon July 23, 2022 at 11:43 am
As wild bison return to these shores in millennia, we take a look at the endangered species and rare animals that have managed to come back from the brink of extinction ...
- Aquatic biologists embark on search for extinct fishon July 18, 2022 at 11:15 pm
Can fish come back from the dead? In the past decade, Colorado Parks and Wildlife aquatic biologists and researchers have confirmed the existence of native greenback cutthroat trout long after they ...
- Ivory-billed woodpecker, called the ‘Lord God bird,’ may not be extinct after allon July 15, 2022 at 3:47 pm
The “Lord God bird” may have risen from the dead. Ornithologists say ... so a lot of species became rare, or went locally extinct,” he said. The last confirmed, live ivory-bill was ...
- This Cloning Breakthrough Could Help Us Save the World’s Endangered Specieson July 5, 2022 at 12:46 pm
Namely, that we may be able to save species threatened by climate change and human activity from going extinct ... cloned embryos by inserting the dead cells into mouse eggs where the nuclei ...
- Mice cloned from freeze-dried cells successfully breed, study showson July 5, 2022 at 8:59 am
The team's method could bring animal species back to life after they've gone extinct in the wild ... controlling part of the cell – from the dead frozen cells into non-frozen egg cells.
- These Are The 11 Extinct Animals on the List to Be Brought Back to Lifeon January 31, 2017 at 4:37 pm
Scientists are on the brink of finding ways to bring species back from the dead — that is, from their long (and in some cases, brief) history of extinction. In preparation for de-extinction ...
The Latest Google Headlines on:
Extinct Species Back from the Dead
The Latest Bing News on:
- Chances of climate catastrophe are ignored, scientists sayon August 1, 2022 at 12:03 pm
A group of top climate scientists say the world needs to think about the ultimate climate catastrophe — human extinction — and how possible it is. They are calling on ...
- Wondrous Xinjiang: Concerted efforts restore Xinjiang salamander from brink of extinctionon July 31, 2022 at 11:43 pm
The species, also known as Xinjiang salamander, was discovered in the county in 1989. However, as a result of human activities and changes in the natural environment, its population declined sharply.
- Chavismo puts journalism and freedom of expression in “danger of extinction”on July 31, 2022 at 9:20 am
Freedom of expression has always been the “Achilles’ heel” of Chavismo throughout its history. Since the arrival of Hugo Chávez and the ...
- To our friends from XRon July 29, 2022 at 4:40 pm
Article about Extinction Rebellion published by EarthFirst! gathering collective, based in the UK, on the 28th of July 2022.
- Mammoths to be brought back to life?on July 28, 2022 at 1:00 am
Scientists are aiming to bring about Jurassic Park in a bid to tackle climate change by resurrecting the Woolly Mammoth and dinosaurs.
- Eating our way into extinction? Maybe it’s time we re-evaluate our habitson July 27, 2022 at 7:12 am
Every piece of food we eat has its own impact on the environment, but some foods make much more of an impact than others.
- Wobbling Towards Our Own Extinctionon July 26, 2022 at 9:36 am
Like a spinning top, things will approach a point where the top will start to wobble and go into a chaotic unpredictable drunken trajectory and suddenly collapse on its side. When the jet stream ...
- More Mammal Species Face Extinction in Australia Than Anywhere Else in the Worldon July 25, 2022 at 1:08 pm
More Mammal Species , Face Extinction in Australia , Than Anywhere Else in the World. 'The Independent' reports that Australia has now lost more mammal species than any other continent in the ...
- Benjamin Freeman: Slowing Birds’ “Escalator to Extinction”on July 25, 2022 at 6:46 am
Among other factors, he saw climate change become a prominent reason for birds’ residence and change in habitat. In mountainous regions, climate change causes species to move uphill to escape warming ...
- The Most Fascinating Birds Will Be the First to Go Extincton July 21, 2022 at 8:00 am
Tui De Roy/Nature Picture Library ... The species has also been critically endangered since 1994, driven to the verge of extinction by hunting, habitat disturbance and deforestation.