Target: Professor Ian Wilimut and Steward Brand
Goal: Do not revive the woolly mammoth and other extinct species
De-extinction is the process of resurrecting species that have been extinct through cloning. While seeing the woolly mammoth or the saber tooth tiger roam the earth again is an exciting thought, there are repercussions. There are various problems that come to mind, like where to house these creatures, the cost of cloning them, and their extremely small gene pool. Also, their reintroduction into the wild poses a major problem to the animals currently residing there.
The cost of cloning or somatic cell nuclear transfer — a process used to clone Dolly the sheep — could run up to the millions. The process would be greatly taxing to the donor, whose cells and eggs would have to be gathered and then placed into a womb. Even with the vast amount of time, research, energy, and money devoted to the project, not all clones are successful. There have been incidents where the clone didn’t live very long or had complications before it resulted in its death.
These scientists also wish to introduce these extinct species back into the wild. Doing this would require huge sums of money because the environment would have to suit their needs. The reintroduction of woolly mammoths would be exceedingly difficult due to global warming. The African and Asian elephants are already endangered; it is possible that their existence could be endangered by the larger and intimidating woolly mammoth. But is not just the woolly mammoth’s counterpart that could be affected; whole ecosystems would be imbalanced and ruined by their reintroduction. There is also concern that the gene pool for these clones wouldn’t be big or diverse enough to support their population. This could lead to birth defects, or a common disease wiping out their numbers.
The consequences are far too great and the de-extinction shouldn’t be pursued as a means of reviving the environment. Instead the focus should be on reviving what is already there and ensuring that our endangered species do not appear on the extinct list. It is true that a majority of extinct species are the result of humans destroying habitats, but de-extinction is not the right means to correct the problem.
Dear Professor Ian Wilimut and Stewart Brand,
I am writing to ask that you do not pursue de-extinction. The process is extremely expensive and your efforts should be spent on saving species that are already endangered. While the idea of bringing back the woolly mammoth or the saber tooth tiger is exciting, I do not believe that they will thrive in the Earth’s current climate. To ensure that they will live in an environment that is suited for them could possibly endanger those that already live there and disrupt their ecosystems. Their reintroduction into the environment is also hazardous because of the lack of diversity in their gene pool; a common disease could kill them.
I implore you to consider other avenues for the wildlife and environment. I fear that their resurrections could only make them curiosities for the public and instead of living their lives in the wild, they would live them in captivity.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Tracy via Wikimedia Commons