A recent article in the UK’s Daily Telegraph bemoaned the possible extinction of up to one-third of the lifeforms on Earth. [Third of plants and animals ‘at risk of extinction’]
But articles like these overlook the emerging bio-technologies of the 21st Century. As Mankind’s knowledge grows exponentially, so do the technological applications of that knowledge.
A case in point can be illustrated by the ongoing concerns over the extinction of species and endangered species.
Despite the fact that Moore’s article in the Telegraph quotes short-sighted doomsayers like Ahmed Djoghlaf, who heads the Convention on Biological Diversity, their pronouncement echoes those of a predecessor organization: The Club of Rome. That group proclaimed that the Earth could not sustain human population growth by the mid-1980s and predicted worldwide famine and the collapse of civilization.
Today, Djoghlaf states, “It’s a problem if we continue this unsustainable pattern of production and consumption. If the 9 billion people predicted to be with us by 2050 were to have the same lifestyle as Americans, we would need five planets.” He then makes the argument that a large extinction of species will occur. Of course he doesn’t mention that mass extinctions are normal in the history of the Earth and during the last one about 99% of all species became extinct.
In case anyone thinks that mass extinction was because of human interference, that extinction happened many millions of years before homo sapiens appeared on the planet.
Organizations like the Convention on Biological Diversity and individuals like Djoghlaf are at best guilty of a failure of vision. To date, humans are nature’s highest achievement and people are endowed with cognitive skills enabling them to think through problems, create solutions or workarounds, and continue forging ahead. Truly humans are the most adaptable creatures on Earth.
The emerging science of resurrection
In a relative handful of years extinct animals will be brought back. Science fiction? Not anymore. The science of species resurrection has reached our doorstep. As our knowledge inches inexorably closer to achieving resurrection of that which was once extinct big business is preparing to get involved.
For close to a decade a research scientists in Japan have sent teams to the great northern tundras to harvest the genetic material of woolly mammoth carcasses. Recently, the Japanese researchers announced they have all the genetic material necessary to reconstruct the mammoth’s DNA chain and implant an elephant.
One day in the not too distant future an elephant will give birth to the first woolly mammoth in 10,000 years . The first mammoth brought back from extinction will be an overnight sensation.
Already some of the world’s top zoos are expressing an interest in obtaining living woolly mammoths.
According to another article that appeared in the U.K. Telegraph, ‘The genomes of several extinct species besides the mammoth are already being sequenced.’ Animals such as the saber-toothed tiger and dodo bird are being discussed as candidates for resurrection.
Is extinction extinct?
When we bring back saber-toothed tigers or dodo birds are any species really in danger of permanent extinction? No. Once we can reconstitute the DNA chain we can bring any species back.
The resurrection ‘movement’ has reached a breakneck pace. Scientists recently announced another successful first: the ‘resurrection’ of a gene from the Tasmanian tiger by implanting the gene in a laboratory mouse.
Scientists are already cataloging thousands of such animals. Incredible as it may seem, chickens could carry Tyrannosaurus Rex embryos and lay a T-Rex egg, while Komodo dragons have been given the nod to carry genetically resuscitated ‘Sarcosuchus imperators’ (flesh crocodile emperors). Those monsters grew to a length approaching 40 feet and are estimated to have weighed more than eight tons. (By comparison, modern crocodiles rarely grow longer than 14 feet and weigh in at less than 1,000 pounds.)
While there may not be much chance of bringing back dinosaurs with today’s biotechnology, we are on the threshold of resurrecting much more modern creatures. Most genetic scientists agree that once one animal is resurrected many more will be slated to be brought back. Thousands of species can—and will—be brought plucked from oblivion.
Eventually, endangered species organizations will themselves be extinct. What could replace them?
A global DNA vault
In the lonely wilderness of far northern Norway stands a complex that some of the more sensational members of the media refer to as ‘the doomsday seed vault.’ It’s officially known as the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
The Global Seed Vault is a depository of all known plant seeds gathered from around the world. Its purpose is to protect and secure the current genetic strains of plants against some future disaster.
This concept lays the foundation for a very similar organization—or organizations—to emerge: a global genetic bank that categorizes and stores the DNA of all the species in the world utilizing cryostasis, a process of cooling organic matter to low sub-zero temperatures and preserving them indefinitely. Once cryostasis is achieved an animal can never become permanently extinct.
At that point, for all intents and purposes, extinction is extinct.
Mammoths: Resurrecting Extinct Megafauna
Extinct animals could be brought back to life thanks to advances in DNA technology
Bringing back the extinct
Ten extinct beasts that could walk the Earth again