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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Day 368: Resurrecting Lost Species

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/13/130310-extinct-species-cloning-deextinction-genetics-science/

Will we ever see a woolly mammoth again? What about the striped Tasmanian tiger, once-prolific passenger pigeon, or the imposing wild cattle called aurochs?
Our species has played a role in the extinction of these and many other species. But now some scientists are proposing a radical turn of the tables: Bringing lost species back from the dead.
Three main methods for "de-extinction" have been proposed. Cloning gets the most attention, thanks in part to the science fiction of Jurassic Park. We probably won't ever see a Tyrannosaurus—despite the discovery of degraded soft-tissue remnants in fossilized dinosaur bone, no one has ever found non-avian dinosaur DNA—but cloning is plausible for less ancient creatures whose genomes can be reconstructed.
And while mammoths tend to hog the spotlight when such proposals are discussed, researchers are also considering resurrecting other species that might not be as famous, but are equally charismatic. (See "Pictures: Extinct Species That Could Be Brought Back.") - National Geographic

What possible reason is there to resurrect extinct species? Is it some kind of attempt to obtain absolution for having driven so many species to extinction in the short span of time we have decimated the Earth? Is it to prove that we are akin to godly figures? Is it to prove our worth to our parents? I haven't heard of any practical reasons to do such a thing, so please, enlighten me 'cos I just don't understand.

Why do we expend so much time, attention and resources on trying to play god when there are so many real and pressing issue that need to be addressed? The same phenomenon occurs with the things in our lives that we care about: gadgets, technology, fame, fashion, love, sex, relationships, beauty - all things that are not a requirement of a happy and comfortable life. If we cared about solving world hunger, or conflicts, or disease epidemics as much as we cared about what Lady Gaga had for breakfast then we would find a solution within years, months, weeks, or even days.

Where do our priorities lie? Definitely not with making life a pleasant experience for as many life forms as possible. Definitely not with preserving the life that is already here. Definitely not with abolishing abuse and exploitation. Definitely not with providing the best healthcare possible to any one who needs it. Definitely not with providing our children with the best education system possible.

So why are we bungling around with resurrecting dead species when we cannot even preserve the life that is sharing this planet with us? Where will we put these resurrected species? In steel cages like the rest of the animals who still exist? There certainly isn't enough land, since animals are being chased away with fire, guns and fences from the only homes they have available to them. Or maybe we want to resurrect the Mammoth so that there is a new source of ivory for the hungry and desperate to poach.

We do not deserve to place ourselves in the position of Creator. We do not deserve to bring new life into this world if we cannot even guarantee that that life will be lived well. The animals we seek to return to form do not deserve the inevitable suffering that we will inflict upon them.

The question is being asked: Resurrecting Lost Species - we can, but should we? The answer is NO, we should not.

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