Documentary of the Week: Intelligence Squared U.S. Should We Bring Extinct Creatures Back to Life

Feb 27, 2019

DEBATE: Should We Bring Extinct Creatures Back To Life? De-extinction describes the process of creating an organism which is a member of, or closely resembles, an extinct species. While this process was once a sci-fi fantasy explored in films like "Jurassic Park," recent biological and technological breakthroughs indicate that reviving extinct creatures, like the passenger pigeon and the woolly mammoth, could become a reality.

De-extinction's proponents argue that the benefits are many, including correcting mistakes of the past by bringing back extinct ecosystems and organisms and helping to curb climate change. They remind us that all scientific breakthroughs are initially met with skepticism and concern, most of which we now take for granted.

But others aren't so sure de-extinction is ethical, or even feasible, since each creature poses its own unique challenge: Recreating a bird is a very different process from recreating a mammal. And beyond that, some say that the resources and funds necessary for de-extinction would compete with current and vital conservation efforts. After all, they argue, with over 16,000 endangered species on Earth, shouldn't humans focus on saving them from extinction rather than "playing God?" MOTION Don't Bring Extinct Creatures Back To Life For The Motion Dr. Ross MacPhee, Curator, Department of Mammalogy, Division of Vertebrate Zooloy, American Museum of Natural History Dr. Lynn J. Rothschild, Evolutionary Biologist & Astrobiologist Against The Motion Stewart Brand, Co-Founder, Revive & Restore & Founder, Whole Earth Catalog Dr. George Church, Professor of Genetics, Harvard and MIT & Founder, Personal Genome Project

This program airs Thursday, 2/28 at 12Noon, and again on Friday, 3/1, 8pm on Public Radio 89.5 HD-1.