TED Conversations

David Johnson

Remote Emergency Medical Responder, Eric Whitacre Virtual Choir

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Science is developing the tools towards de-extinction of species on the planet that have become extinct. The question becomes; Should we?

Stewart Brand and his colleagues are at the biotech precipice of reviving extinct species. The Revive and Restore project plans to not only bring species back but restore them to the wild, as well as protect currently endangered species.

I don't think any of us will have a problem with the latter, this discussion is focused on the primary goal; reintroduction of extinct species. We are not talking about dinosaurs here, but the Passenger Pigeon, Carolina Parakeet, Heath Hen, European Aurochs, Bucardo, The Taz Tiger, etc.

Up for debate here: Should we?

Where we can all appreciate the science being developed, we must discuss the implications of initiating projects like this. I submit we need to discuss this on behalf of the existing species that we have, as well as for the animals that are lost.

Some questions to consider:

Do we value the argument that we should 'undo the harm' that humans have caused in the past, due to over-hunting or destruction of habitat? Should we rewrite or undo history?

Many of these species have not been in the natural environment for 100 years. It is fair to say that the natural predators or prey of these species, the plants or insect life they feed on, the environments they roam through ... have altered in their absence. Has the cycle of the earth, moved on without them?

We have a long history of experiencing what can happen when biodiversity is altered by introducing a species not indigenous to the area in question. Cane Toads in Australia, Grey Squirrel in Europe or the Gypsy Moth.

Is this project actually an introduction of a species back into an environment that may not be able to sustain it as it once did?

Even though we can grieve the lost of the Dodo, should we bring it back at all costs?

Or as Daniel Chan asks below;

how can we effectively simulate the effects of introducing pre-existing species to the environment before actually doing so?

What other Questions should we ask?


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  • Apr 4 2013: Okay Ladies and Gentleman . Personally I don't think that this is a bad idea because of the arguments I will provide you with.

    First of all , if they manage to resurrect / revive the extinct animals , don't you think that they will be able to prevent and avoid the endangered species to become extinct? I mean that will be really fantastic because there will be no more endangered species because they can easily be revived.

    Secondly , I think by reviving this EXTINCT animals means that we and our next generation can see for their self the most ancient animals and they will know what the animals in the past really looks like and their behaviour and many more to learn.

    Then don't you think this will have a big impact to the economics side? because as we know the one that killing this endangered animals or even the extinct animals. People hunt them because of their beauty, some because of their horns , some because of their skins, some even for their meats, well I say if we can revive this animals afterwards then there will be no fear of extinction and we can sell it to rich people to earn profits to help the country. Isn't that right ladies and gentleman?

    Well I think I've already provided you with all the thoughts and arguments in my mind for this time being. Thank you very much !!!!

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