Tuesday, April 9, 2013

TED on Tuesday: The Dawn Of De-Extinction

Famous last words, perhaps? Click to view full size.

In a previous entry on this blog, I wrote about my visit to the Museum of Natural History in New York City. Part of what I wrote concerned the destruction of the passenger pigeon. Once numbering in the billions, the last surviving member of that species died almost 100 years ago, in 1914. But what if there was a way to bring back the passenger pigeon? Or the woolly mammoth? Or any number of other extinct species?

Incredibly, utilising science, technology and advances in DNA research, scientists are now close to the point where it is possible to bring extinct species back to life. In this TED Talk, Stewart Brand (the Whole Earth Catalog, The WELL, the Global Business Network, the Long Now Foundation, etc), outlines ongoing research and long term plans to de-extinct some of the animals that have disappeared from the planet.

Granted, resurrecting the woolly mammoth using ancient DNA may sound like mad science. But Brand’s Revive and Restore project has an entirely rational goal: to learn what causes extinctions so we can protect currently endangered species, preserve genetic and biological diversity, repair depleted ecosystems, and essentially “undo harm that humans have caused in the past.”

Watch Stuart Brand’s TED Talk now...

Stewart Brand's newest book is Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto. He is also the author of How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They're Built.

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