“De-Extinction”: Restoring Nature?
Funder: Gaylin Fund and private donors
Bringing back an extinct species now appears possible thanks to advances in synthetic biology and other technologies such as cloning. Scientists say they are close to being able to bring back the passenger pigeon and other animals recently driven into extinction. And the possibility of breathing life back into the wooly mammoth lags not far behind. The idea of bringing back Neanderthal humans has crossed the headlines too, and not in the tabloids, but by way of leading scientists. Some proponents of de-extinction, as it is called, think the important question now is simply: Which extinct species should be revived first?
One thing is clear: when it comes to de-extinction, the science is way ahead of the ethics. This project is bringing together leading philosophers, biologists, ecologists, lawyers, political scientists, and anthropologists to think creatively about the moral guidelines that should be developed for de-extinction activities. They are considering questions such as: Should we bring back extinct species? What are the important considerations in deciding whether to bring a species back? Does the idea make more sense for some species than for others? How would it work for an extinct species to be wild again? The project’s goal is to explore the values issues at stake in national and international policy recommendations. The research will be published as a special report.