Sep 8, 2022

Bringing woolly mammoths back from extinction might not be such a bad idea — ethicists explain

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, existential risks

An excellent article rebutting some of common negative reactions to the idea of de-extinction. I applaud George Church, Ben Lamm, and colleagues for their efforts to leverage the genomics revolution to recreate the wooly mammoth and the Thylacine. These represent exciting steps for repairing damaged ecosystems. Such approaches will also most likely have the side benefit of generating new technologies for biomedical applications. I’d love to see similar de-extinction efforts addressing loss of insect and microorganism biodiversity as well! #biotech #future #crispr #techforgood

When mammoths disappeared from the Arctic some 4,000 years ago, shrubs overtook what was previously grassland. Mammoth-like creatures could help restore this ecosystem by trampling shrubs, knocking over trees, and fertilising grasses with their faeces.

Theoretically, this could help reduce climate change. If the current Siberian permafrost melts, it will release potent greenhouse gases. Compared to tundra, grassland might reflect more light and keep the ground cooler, which Colossal hopes will prevent the permafrost from melting.

While the prospect of reviving extinct species has long been discussed by groups such as Revive and Restore, advances in genome editing have now brought such dreams close to reality. But just because we have the tools to resurrect mammoth-like creatures, does this mean we should?

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