The Dawn of De-Extinction

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Extinct Passenger Pigeons

Throughout humankind's history, we've driven species after species extinct: the passenger pigeon, the Eastern mountain lion, the dodo .... But now, says Stewart Brand, we have the technology (and the biology) to bring back species that humanity wiped out. So -- should we? Which ones? He asks a big question whose answer is closer than you may think.
W ith biotech accelerating four times faster than digital technology, the revival of extinct species is becoming possible. Stewart Brand plans to not only bring species back but restore them to the wild.

Brand, author of Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto, is already a legend in the tech industry for things he’s created: the Whole Earth Catalog, The WELL, the Global Business Network, the Long Now Foundation, and the notion that “information wants to be free.” Now Brand, a lifelong environmentalist, wants to re-create -- or “de-extinct” -- a few animals that have disappeared from the planet.

Extinct Cuban Red Macaw

Resurrecting the woolly mammoth using ancient DNA may sound like science fiction. However 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.”


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