Thursday, November 21, 2013

KPBS on de-extinction

It's been eight months since I wrote De-extinction: moral imperative or techno-narcissism?  It's about time that I revisit the subject, which I'm doing with help from KPBS.

San Diego Researchers Discuss Bringing Back Extinct Animals

The fiction of Jurassic Park might be on the verge of reality. Scientists are talking about the possibility of bringing back extinct species.
In my previous entry on the subject, I came to the conclusion that the advocates of de-extinction were really all about us.  As you can see and hear, so are the opponents, although in a way that is generally regarded as charitable rather than selfish.  On the other hand, someone finally presented a reason for bringing back passenger pigeons beyond "it's cool" and assuaging guilt over its extinction, one that helps organisms other than humans.  Now they'll just have to produce a million birds within the lifetime of the first one, so the population can sustain itself in the wild.  Passenger pigeons were not California Condors, which can go from 22 to more than 400 in three decades.  They required huge flocks to induce them to breed.  That's a major hurdle I don't think the techno-optimists have considered yet.

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