* Advances in biotechnology have made it possible to bring back extinct species from the dead, but should we? In this workshop we will not only discuss the scientific breakthroughs in this area, but the many ethical implications of reviving dead species.
Throughout humankind's history, we've driven species after species extinct: the passenger pigeon, the Eastern cougar, the dodo ... But now, we have the technology (and the biology) to bring back species that humanity wiped out. The technology of synthetic biology is currently accelerating at four times the rate of Moore's Law. Today scientists are starting to bring extinct species back to life - but should we do this? - If so, then which ones? And what are the consequences of de-extinction?
Advances in biotechnology has made it possible to bring back extinct species from the dead, but should we? De-extinction, also known as ‘species revivalism’ is the process of creating an organism, which is either a member of an extinct species or resembles one. Cloning is one method to achieve this. Another proposed method is selective breeding.
THE DEFINITION OF EXTINCTION
In biology and ecology, extinction is the end of a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of the species, although the capacity to breed and recover may have been lost before this point.
EXTINCTION IS A NORMAL PART OF LIFE
Extinction is a very normal part of life as we know it. Due to the continuing process of evolution, the fact is that 99.999% of all species to have ever existed on planet Earth have gone extinct. Making space for the vast diversity and number of species we see today. There are many millions of different species inhabiting our world today, far more than we are currently able to classify and study. In a healthy ecosystem there is a steady rate of extinction, however throughout history there have been several mass extinctions, causing sudden and dramatic change!
LIFE ON EARTH IS IN TROUBLE!
According to the United Nations GEO5 report “today the world is living through the sixth great extinction of species”. The global human population is approximately 7.5 billion people. In the 1800s, just two hundred years ago, global population was around 1 billion people. The UN estimates that the global population will reach 9.7 billion by 2050. As human populations increase dramatically this puts us in direct competition with other species on this planet for space and resources. As oceans are depleted, forests are deforested and other ecosystems are affected by climate change this has led to an unprecedented loss in biodiversity. Every ecosystem has a tipping point, when a certain number of key species within any eco-system is lost it will lead to a sudden and dramatic collapse.
LEONARDO DICAPRIO ON INSTAGRAM
Actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio posted an image on his Instagram to spread awareness about the dangerously low numbers of endangered animals. The numbers posted are pretty grim. According to the image, there are only 3,200 tigers, 28,000 rhinos and 700 mountain gorillas left in the wild, compared to the 7 billion people populating our earth.
*** THIS IS ONLY THE BEGINNING OF THE DE-EXTINCTION WORKSHOP! IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO EXPERIENCE THIS CONVERSATION WORKSHOP IN FULL, WITH A GLASS OF WINE AND A FRIENDLY GROUP OF PEOPLE, THEN PLEASE CONTACT US TO FIND OUT HOW TO PARTICIPATE.
The rest of this workshop will discuss...
- A LIST OF ICONIC ENDANGERED ANIMALS
- GIANT PANDA
- BLUE WHALE
- SNOW LEOPARD
- MASS EXTINCTION - NOT THE FIRST TIME
- WHY SHOULD WE CARE ABOUT MASS EXTINCTION?
- THE PASSENGER PIGEON
- DE-EXTINCTION IS A REALITY
- WHY SHOULD WE BRING SPECIES BACK FROM EXTINCTION?
- WHY SHOULDN’T WE BRING EXTINCT SPECIES BACK TO LIFE?
Should we bring species back from extinction? Please let us know by leaving a response in the comment section below.
- to breed: (verb) [Portuguese: procriar] - cause (an animal) to produce offspring, typically in a controlled and organized way.
- to inhabit: (verb) [Portuguese: habitar] - (of a person, animal, or group) live in or occupy (a place or environment).
- to deforest: (verb) [Portuguese: desmatar] - clear (an area) of forests or trees.
- stringent: (adjective) [Portuguese: rigorosas] - strict, precise
- to poach: (verb) [Portuguese: caçar] - illegally hunt or catch (game or fish) on land that is not one's own
- threat: (noun) [Portuguese: ameaça] - a statement of an intention to inflict pain, injury, damage, or other hostile action on someone in retribution for something done or not done.
- hunting: (noun) [Portuguese: caçando] - the activity of hunting wild animals or game, especially for food or sport.
- tusk: (noun) [Portuguese: presa de elefante] - a long, pointed tooth, especially one specially developed so as to protrude from the closed mouth, as in the elephant, walrus, or wild boar.
- sheep: (noun) [Portuguese: ovelha] - a domesticated ruminant animal with a thick woolly coat and (typically only in the male) curving horns.
- ibex: (noun) [Portuguese: íbex] - a wild goat with long, thick ridged horns and a beard, found in the mountains of the Alps, Pyrenees, central Asia, and Ethiopia.
- encroachment: (noun) [Portuguese: invasão] - intrusion on a person's territory.
- talisman: (noun) [Portuguese: talisman] - an object, typically an inscribed ring or stone, that is thought to have magic powers and to bring good luck.
- grim: (adjective) [Portuguese: severo] - forbidding or uninviting.
- for you’re my own sake: (expression) [Portuguese: para o meu próprio benefício]
- rate: (noun) [Portuguese: taxa] - a measure, quantity, or frequency, typically one measured against some other quantity or measure.
- fulfilling: (adjective) [Portuguese: cumprindo] - making someone satisfied or happy because of fully developing their character or abilities.
- key species: [Portuguese: espécies-chave] - a keystone species is a plant or animal that plays a unique and crucial role in the way an ecosystem functions.
- surmise: (to summarise or to sum up) [Portuguese: suposição] - a supposition that something may be true, even though there is no evidence to confirm it.
- shallow: (adjective) [Portuguese: raso] - of little depth.
- to burrow: (verb) [Portuguese: escavar] - (of an animal) make a hole or tunnel, especially to use as a dwelling
- flock: (noun) [Portuguese: rebanho] - a number of birds of one kind feeding, resting, or traveling together.
- Synthetic biology: is an interdisciplinary branch of biology and engineering.
- Moore’s Law: refers to an observation made by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore in 1965. He noticed that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits had doubled every year since their invention. Moore's law predicts that this trend will continue into the foreseeable future.
- Selective breeding: (also called artificial selection) is the process by which humans use animal breeding and plant breeding to selectively develop particular phenotypic traits (characteristics) by choosing which typically animal or plant males and females will sexually reproduce and have offspring together.
- “World population projected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050”, July 2015, UN.org
- “The Earth stands on the brink of its sixth mass extinction and the fault is ours”, Jan Zalasiewizc, June 2015, The Guardian
- “The dawn of de-extinction. Are you Ready?”, Stewart Brand, February 2013, TED TALK
- “The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species”, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN)
- “Japan Is Going to Kill Thousands of Whales No Matter What Other Nations Say”, Laura Dattaro, April 2015, VICE
- “The God Project” Patia Stephens, Stanford Alumi Magazine
- “Bringing them back to life” Carl Zimmer, April 2013, National Geographic
- “Woolly mammoth Revival”, Revive and Restore
- “Exotic Animals for Sale”, June 2010, Havocscope – Black market information
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