De-Extinction and the Environment
De-Extinction and the Environment
The Modern Jurassic Park: Can De-Extinction Turn Back the Clock for our Environment?
By Haley Bigler
What does a Dodo, a Wooly Mammoth, and a Western Black Rhinoceros all have in common? These species are all extinct, and have the possibility to walk the earth again thanks to the development of de-extinction technology: although not fully functioning, this technology will become reality sooner than we may think. In the past, scientists have not only successfully brought back the extinct Ibex, but have done a surplus of research surrounding many other animals that have been selected as possible subjects. Through methods of back breeding, genetic engineering, and cloning, extinct species could soon rejoin our environment.
With the possibility of this technology being at our disposal, we must ask ourselves if the costs outweigh the benefits regarding the environmental impacts which this new innovation presents. As a community, we have 127 months to solve the issue of climate change and global warming– 127 months to make changes that could prevent the extinction of the human race. Why would we not do everything in our power to save our planet? While some scientists say bringing back the Wooly Mammoth will help slow climate change, others contest that it will disrupt the ecosystem. With the main arguments for de-extinction being that this technology could help our environment, we must thoroughly examine all possible impacts, and consider all stakeholders in the decision making process. Ultimately, my paper will address the responsibility we have to our planet, as well as the animals who inhabit it, and the role of consequentialism in the deciding conversation. In addition, it will present both facts and opinions on the topic of De-Extinction, allowing the reader to develop and form their own conclusions.
Table of Contents
- Molecular Biology and the Three Criteria
- Nature vs Nurture
- The Past that Leads to the Future
- Impacts on the Environment
- The Responsibility to Regulate and Why
- Precautionary or Revolutionary?
What does a Dodo, a Wooly Mammoth, and a Western Black Rhinoceros all have in common? Although similar in more ways than one, they are all extinct species that soon could rejoin our environment thanks to the development of de-extinction technology. But it’s not just these animals: this possibility is open to all animals that went extinct in the last million years, with that number possibly increasing as this technology evolves. Although once an idea out of a sci-fi fantasy movie, this technology could solve complicated issues with few other solutions. Scientists have not only successfully cloned the extinct Ibex, but have done a surplus of research surrounding animals that have been selected as possible candidates- through methods of back breeding, genetic engineering, and cloning, we have an undo button at our fingertips.
You may be wondering, why? Why bring back these extinct animals? How is this a good use of resources? The return of these animals is costly and complicated, so rest assured these animals are not to be brought back for the purpose of aesthetic or commercial use: instead, possible candidates for this technology will be thoroughly evaluated in search of how they will positively contribute to our shaky environment. The Woolly Mammoth, along with countless other animals, have been found to have profound impacts, leading many to view this technology as an incredible innovation.
With the possibility of this technology being at our disposal, we must ask ourselves the complicated questions surrounding the ethics and rationality of this topic, especially whether or not the costs outweigh the benefits when it comes to the environmental impacts. Some scientists say bringing back these extinct species will help us convert our environment to how it was previously (thus eliminating some environmental challenges we are currently facing), but others fear a domino-effect disruption may occur in the ecosystem. With the main argument for de-extinction being that this technology could greatly benefit our environment, we must thoroughly examine all possible impacts, and consider the roles of the many stakeholders in the decision making process.
In addition, we must consider the values and lenses of both responsibility and consequentialism, as they are crucial to consider in the ethical analysis of this technology. More specifically, the responsibility to preserve and do no harm to our planet (as well as the animals who inhabit it), and to ensure proper regulations are put into place and followed. In addition, the lense of consequentialism is very useful in terms of weighing the costs and benefits, as that is heavily required when discussing this topic. At length this paper will focus on the positive and negative sides to De-Extinction, specifically focusing on the impact it will have on the the environment, and will also ultimately address whether or not we should advance with this technology.
Molecular Biology and the Three Criteria
De-extinction is a complex topic with extensive background baggage that ranges from the methods in which de-extinction is performed, to the baseline criteria being discussed in today’s world. Because of this, a lot must be understood regarding the behind the scenes research and procedures of this technology in order to fully understand its ethical implications.
There are three main methods scientists will use to de-extinct a species, the first of which is back breeding. This method can best be described as creating a “hybrid” species that is a combination of the DNA of an extinct species and that of its closest living relative. To do this scientists intertwine the DNA so that the embryo contains the DNA of both species, and then insert that embryo into the living relative to surrogate the “de-extinct” species. The second method used by scientists is cloning, which only works with recently extinct animals: scientists will take an embryo that is ideally preserved from the time the species was still alive, and will then extract the nucleus, which they will then “swap” into the egg cell of the closest living relative of that species to surrogate. This method will produce an identical copy of the extinct species, but would restrict scientists to only recently extinct animals as it requires the preserved embryo. In the past, this method successfully brought back the extinct Ibex, although it later died of genetic problems with its lungs- despite the negative outcome, scientists successfully revived an extinct species, which makes the future use of this technology for de-extinction seem promising.
The last method that can be used is Genetic Engineering, which is one of the newer methods found to work for de-extinction: scientists line up the genome of an extinct species and that of it’s closest living relative, and use CRISPR (or other gene editing tools) to switch relevant genes- they would then either have the closest living relative surrogate the species or grow the embryo in an artificial womb. This technology allows scientists to pick and choose what traits the de-extinct species has, which can be useful in terms of giving the species extra help in adapting to the name environment.
Now that we have multiple ways to bring back these extinct species, the next step that must be considered is deciding which animals to bring back. This is a classic issue discussed regularly in the field of ethics- think of it as similar to having 100 vaccines to save 200 people from a deadly disease, and you need to figure out who to save. Some would say random selection, others would say that you should give it to the younger patients, and others would say to give it to the patients that have the highest chance of survival. Scientist Douglas McCauley, an ecologist at UCSB, and his colleagues had similar reactions to the question of “who do we choose to de-extinct”, and thus created what is known as the “three criteria”. The ideal thing about these criteria is that they are baseline, buildable, and broad, making it perfect to build upon when the time comes: de-extinction is a matter of when, not if, so it is necessary to develop criteria, guidelines, and regulations to ensure this technology is used ethically, if at all.
The first criteria is that is has to have a unique function- McCauley believes that to de-extinct an animal, it must have a unique function that is different than a species currently alive as it allows diversity in our ecosystem, and allows us to spend our money wisely on animals that will actually make a change in our environment rather than intensify the impact of a single species. The next criteria is that the animal has to be recently extinct- McCauley believes that animals that were recently extinct should have priority in being de-extinct as they will be able to fit back into the environment more easily than ones from thousands of years ago. Although there will have been some changes since the reign of the extinct species, it’s not as drastic of an adjustment as, say, a wooly mammoth. If the animal is from too long ago, it will not be able to adapt to our current environment, and we would then be condemning these animals to a life of misery and suffering, and once again, extinction.
“A passenger pigeon that hits that forest again is going to be like a middle-aged guy who really wants to go back to high school and then he gets back there and he’s like, ‘Whoa I don’t fit in anymore.’”Douglas McCauley, an ecologist at UCSB
And lastly, the remaining criteria is crucial to this scientific discovery actually making a difference: the animal must be able to be restored to certain levels of abundance. If we de-extinct a Wooly Mammoth, it would be very difficult to restore that species to levels of abundance that will be able to sustain themselves and actually have any impact on our environment- not only because of the hefty cost, but because they may not be able to fully adapt to the new environment (going back to criteria #2). Scientists argue for this technology because they think de-extincting these animals will make a positive impact in our ecosystems, but if we can’t restore their species to high levels of abundance, no impact will be made at all.
“The ecosystem has moved on, if you put the organism back in, it could be disruptive to a new dynamic equilibrium. It’s not altogether clear that putting one of these extinct species from the distant past back into an ecosystem today would be much more than introducing an exotic species. It would have repercussions that we’re probably not fully capable of predicting.”Stanley Temple, Professor emeritus of conservation at the University of Wisconsin
After having done a surplus of research regarding these criteria points, I strongly believe these are an excellent foundation for future restriction: they are perfectly broad so that they can serve as fantastic stepping stones into the discussion of more specific guidelines. In addition to these three listed above, some scientists have also considered whether or not the reason why these animal went extinct matters. For example, if we were the cause of an animals extinction, should they be priority? Another important aspect to consider when thinking about criteria is, what if they don’t meet all x amount of criteria points? I definitely think it depends on what points it is missing, but in the beginning I do think it is important that the animal(s) meet all criteria. The list of possible criteria goes on and on, but these three are a great start.
Nature vs Nurture
Brought to the surface in this explanation of how the methods of de-extinction work is the grey area surrounding what classifies an animal as “de-extinct”- is animal x the same as the closest relative because of the argument of nurture? Or is this animal the de-extinct species because of the argument of nature? For those who don’t know of the origin of this question, it involves human/animal behavior. Essentially, people have been arguing for decades about whether nature (genetics) or nurture (environment, upbringing, parents) is what controls how a member of a species “turns out” or acts. Relating this back to de-extinction, this argument is important to consider because if we argue in terms of nature, the de-extinct species should act as it did in the past, despite being raised by another species.
On the other hand, if nurture is the clear influencer, the animal will also likely learn functions from its surrogate parents, therefore creating the possibility of the “de-extinct” species adopting different behaviors. For example, the Woolly Mammoth would be raised by the Asian Elephant (as it is the closest living relative): the issue with this is that they live in a very different habitat, so the Woolly Mammoth would not have exposure to the actual Arctic Tundra. This could pose a very big problem, because if the animal does not behave how we intended it to, not only can it not accomplish its task it was brought to complete, but we (the scientists) could very quickly lose control and become blind to how the species will act.
As stated in the above paragraph, de-extinction is a matter of when, not if. What I mean by that is as a part of human nature, we want to continue to push our limits, and be the “best” at what we do. This trait is stronger for some people than others, but because of this presence, there are people who so deeply wish to continue to advance in the field of science, and will try and innovate in the most creative and magnificent ways possible. Why is this important to know? Well, this is the reason the use of de-extinction technology is a when, and not an if: there will always be someone so passionate about a cause or topic that they do everything in their power to accomplish the goal they set. This is also the reason why we need rules and regulations, which will be discussed later in this paper.
The Past that Leads to the Future
In addition to the background information, the previous case studies that have been performed are extremely important: these past examples allow scientists to eliminate error and predict the course future experiments will take. As of now, the most well known animals being considered for de-extinction include the Wooly Mammoth and the Passenger Pigeon. Although these are the headliner animals, species such as the Quagga are also being investigated as possible subjects for de-extinction (or already are in the process of being de-extinct)
One of these past examples includes the “Heck Horse”, which is a cross between a Tarpan, a prehistoric horse that went extinct in the 1800s, and a close living relative. This species is bred in the wild and for the purpose of domesticated riding, and is protected by the North American Tarpan Association. (this species was originally killed off by humans as they saw it as a competitor for farmland). Another species that has undergone the process of cross breeding to become “de-extinct” is known as the “Quagga”: this is a subspecies of the African Plains Zebra, which was also killed off by humans in 1883. They served an important role in the African plains, and the Quagga Project is continuing their quest to bring this species back. Lastly, the “Aurochs”, a very large species of cattle from over 2 million years ago, has also been considered. It became extinct in 1627 at the hands of a poacher, and was first domestication 8,000 years ago as a way to pull heavy loads, and as a meat source. Scientists have recently discovered that current day cattle possess similar traits and characteristics (ex. Spanish fighting bulls), and the Dutch group Stitching Taurus is leading a project to breed these animals together and create “Heck Cattle”. This “Heck Cattle” would only possess Aurochs genes, and the goal of this group is to eventually release them into the Dutch countryside. Most of these animals do not satisfy the three criteria, however they have less of an impact as they are subspecies of currently living species, meaning they have extremely similar functions to those already alive.
A common theme you may see through these examples is that small-scale organizations have been responsible for the research, and in some cases, the de-extinction of these animals. Another common characteristic linking these animals is how they went extinct: all of them were killed by humans. Based on these past/current studies, it is clear many want to use de-extinction methods to undo our previous wrongs, unlike what scientist Douglas McCauley listed in his three criteria. It is also clear that if regulations are not put into place, many activist groups will de-extinct the species they believe should be brought back, without consultation with anyone else. This would become problematic very quickly, as it not only will cause extreme unbalance and confusion within ecosystems, but also because there will be no way to ensure these animals will not ultimately be condemned to a life of suffering that may end in extinction once again.
Impacts on the Environment
As one of the main contenders for de-extinction, lots of research has been done on the Wooly Mammoth. Scientists such as Harvard University’s George Church believe that de-extincting the Wooly Mammoth could help convert the Arctic tundra back to grasslands from the last ice age: “mammoths and other large herbivores trampling across the ancient Arctic ecosystems helped maintain the grasslands by knocking down trees and spreading grass seeds in the dung. When the large herbivores disappeared, the ecosystem transitioned to today’s mossy tundra and taiga that is beginning to melt and release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.” Reviving the mammoth, Church says, could help slow climate change by shifting the landscape back toward the grasslands.
“There’s twice as much carbon at risk in the tundra than in all the forests of the world put together.”George Church, Harvard University’s lead researcher working to de-extinct the mammoth in “Should We Bring Extinct Species Back from the Dead.”
According to the research of George Church, an American genealogist, chemist, and molecular engineer, the return of the Woolly Mammoth could prevent a very large amount of Carbon Dioxide from being released into our warming atmosphere. In my eyes, I see this as a valid solution to the issue of global warming, especially because this issue is one of the most prevalent we are facing in today’s world.
The other leading candidate for de-extinction is the Passenger Pigeon: In the 1800s, these birds flew in flocks of thousands, which, you can imagine resulted in prevalent droppings. Some people may think of having to wash their cars when they hear this, but their dropping, being extremely flammable, encouraged healthy forest fires and dispersed the seeds of trees- due to recent events forest fires have become a hated thing, but they are necessary in our ecosystems:
“After their extinction, these healthy natural disturbances ceased, white oaks lost their primary mode of seed dispersal (i.e., via bird droppings), and the forests have never been the same. The passenger pigeon is a very important ecological species for the habitat that we want to restore.”-Should we Bring Extinct Species Back from the Dead
Before europeans settled in what is now north America, it is believed that 20 million acres of forests burned from natural causes each year- now only 4-8 burn. Species such as the passenger pigeon will encourage healthy fires, and aid in the dispersal of seeds and growth of new life in forests. Presently, a genetics entrepreneur named Ryan Phelan has co-founded the Revive and Restore project, where he hopes to use methods of molecular biology to bring back the passenger pigeon. By starting with the band-tailed pigeon, Ben Novak, a research consultant, says they can change its genome to be extremely close to the previous genetic code of the passenger pigeon- because of this, the resulting animal will not necessarily be a descendent from the passenger pigeon, but will look and act like one. To put this in perspective, Novak stated that if he presents the species to scientists that are unaware of it being genetically engineered and told them to classify it:
“the natural historians are going to say, ‘This is Ectopistes migratorius.’ And if the genome plops right next to all the other passenger pigeon genomes you’ve sequenced from history, then a geneticist will have to say, ‘This is a passenger pigeon. It’s not a band-tailed pigeon.’”Novak
The Revive & Restore project plans on breeding these new birds in captivity, and then eventually return them to the wild around 2030. (Audubon. org). Between these two species, I definitely side with de-extincting the Woolly Mammoth, as I find it’s effect on the environment to be much more profound- the passenger pigeon is a decent candidate, but I find its behavior to be very similar to that of species currently alive. For those reasons, I believe the Wooly Mammoth to be a more ideal candidate, despite the hefty price tag.
The Responsibility to Regulate and Why
If we have an “undo button” that brings back any extinct species granted we have the correct resources, would we become more careless? Or would the return of these species cause an increase in interest of animals, and thus an increase in research and less extinction? Questions like these are hard to answer, and require a multitude of different lenses. When discussing the topic of de-extinction, Responsibility is a major value at play. As the decision makers in this process, it is the job of the scientists, government, and conservation groups to evaluate the different values and issues at stake. Because of this, they hold the responsibility of making the “right” decision, as well as developing regulations for the issues surrounding this technology. They also have the responsibility to keep the environment safe and healthy, which means doing extensive research on the effects each animal candidate, and planning protocol in the event of a catastrophic impact.
An issue of regulation surfaces when this technology becomes viable: specifically the regulations regarding use of technology, tourism, and hunting. It is the responsibility of the government to put guidelines into place and followed, and of the scientists to inform the public and guide the creation of these guidelines, as this technology is not only very costly, but has the possibility to unleash animals that would be dangerous to our environment, and the people and animals that inhabit it. If regulations are not put into place, this technology will essentially become available to anyone who has the resources, which is where the real danger of this technology comes in- not only in terms of keeping track of whether a saber-tooth tiger or passenger pigeon has been released, but also the animals who could be subject to mistreatment and unethical commercial use. Without regulations regarding use and availability of this technology, this innovation will cause havoc on our ecosystems.
Another regulation that must be put into place is that of tourism- this raises an interesting question, which is “if the animal is not created for the purpose of tourism, can you still use it for that purpose?” To this many would respond with no, these animals are being brought back for the sole purpose of being released into the wild, and for this reason tourism should not occur. However, others argue that the money made could be used to help other environmental causes such as the extinction prevention effort. Of course, the conditions of this commercial use must be 100% humane for this to even be considered, but still many people turn up their noses to this idea. Because of this, many overlook it as a solution to a problem we only hope will not occur: if the de-extinct animals harm the environment. Many argue it would be more unethical to kill off the species than put them in a contained habitats because they could still serve a purpose: helping raise money for the next de-extinction candidate, or even for the conservation of a currently endangered species. This “commercial use” would still ensure humane conditions for the animals involved, however it would keep them out of the wild. If regulations are not put into place regarding tourism, it can only be expected many people will exploit these animals and reap the benefits only for themselves- although sad, this is the reality we face, which is why regulations regarding tourism are so important.
The last regulation that should be put into place in the regulation of hunting- it is difficult to see how we can fully let the animals “run wild” when someone could not only poach these de-extinct species, but ruin the intended effects they were brought back for. If they become victims to poachers, the field has lost a valuable subject, as well as a lot of money that could have helped other issues. With a Wooly Mammoth being worth a minimum of $10 million, it will be considered a target for poachers who will reap the benefits for themselves: some protection should be required for these animals, as well as a high punishment for those who either accomplish or attempt to poach these animals. The only issue with punishment is that most of these poachers won’t have millions of dollars laying around, so they would not be able to pay the high fines that may be put into place. However, a warning of high fines or other extensive punishments could discourage any attempts. The reality with the issue of regulation of hunting it that it is near impossible to protect these animals while we also let them run wild, but some protection is better than nothing.
With these three regulations needing to be discussed, the question of “who” arises- “who” referring to private enterprises versus the government. If the government were to be the sole decision maker in terms of de-extinction, the money needed to bring back and maintain these de-extinct species will come out of their conservation budget- this means that money will be taken away from all of the preexisting conservation efforts. It has been calculated that if this happens, approximately two species will go extinct for every one that would be revived (one individual, not one population), which results in a lack of biodiversity. On the other hand, if private enterprises absorb the costs, money is not taken from government conservation efforts and researchers have even calculated that there may be a small increase in biodiversity. For example, bringing back the Forbes’ snipe, a long-billed bird native to New Zealand that went extinct in the 19th century, will create a net biodiversity gain in New Zealand. Based on this research, it seems as though it would be best for private enterprises to run these de-extinction projects, although it is still very important for the government to oversee for safety and precautionary measures.
All of this talk of regulations and who will create and enforce then, and no one has stopped to ask why: why is it our responsibility? Although an unpopular lense to use, anthropocentrism allows us to analyze why. Although in many, many other scenarios we are not the most important, in this case we are- this sounds selfish, but the reasoning behind this stance makes perfect sense. The Homo Sapien is, as far as we know, the only species actively thinking about a solution to global warming and other large issues. Because of this, we are the main stakeholder responsible for completing the previously mentioned tasks.
Precautionary or Revolutionary?
De-extinction can have many positive impacts, of course assuming the “right” animals are brought back, but despite all of the good that can be accomplished, many fall to the precautionary principle. With this technology comes a lot of unknown outcomes- scientists may be able to predict where a de-extinct species will fit into the food chain based on what they would consume previously and what their closest living relative eats now, but many factors can change predictions such as those. The negative outcomes that could prevail includes the de-extinct species not being able to identify prey vs predator, not be able to identify food sources, and how being raised by a parent of a different species could cause the de-extinct species to behave differently than it may have been predicted. In these cases, many use the lense of consequentialism and the precautionary principle: both of these lenses judge the ethicality of actions based on their end result, and some may argue that because many outcomes are unknown, we can’t make the proper decision. This is where the precautionary principle comes in- this principle states that if the outcome is unknown, the action should not be completed.
Using these lenses, scientists must keep in mind the responsibility to do no harm to the environment: in the cases being discussed in this paper, these animals are being brought back to benefit the environment, but even after passing the criteria and research standards, there are those unknown results. According to these lenses, although the Wooly Mammoth could help prevent massive amounts of carbon dioxide from being released, the fact that there are unknowns means the technology should not be used: the Wooly Mammoth could harm the environment, and in the eyes of many, that is reason enough not to bring the species back.
However, it is necessary to reflect on past scientific discoveries when considering not following through with a scientific innovation. When de-extinction is fully functioning, it will be looked at as one of the most impressive discoveries in science, in close rank with the invention of CRISPR and other gene editing tools- when these technologies were introduced, people were skeptical and even scared for how they will change the future, but now they can be used to spot and edit harmful genes in fetus’. If we judged everything with the precautionary principle, where would we be now? To a certain extent, it is a helpful lense to use, but in the case of deciding whether or not to pursue an innovative technology, taking risks is what advances the lives of thousands; or in the case of the Wooly Mammoth, the entire planet.
As stated by a Georgetown Bioethics scholar during a project meeting for this paper… “all you need to stop a slippery slope is a line”. Seems easy enough, right? Although one could dream of this easy of a solution, in reality that is not the case. People may be quick to drawing a personal line, but when it comes to others drawing the line for them, tension rises. A current and similar technology presently being used (although rare) is the cloning of pets: many wealthy families are already using this technology, and the fact that this is even possible, let alone being done, is a crazy concept.
In many instances such as this, we see how one thing leads to another, also known as a slippery slope. This concept of a slippery slope very much so applies to de-extinction- we may begin with animals that follow certain criteria and that are brought back from a certain purpose, but many years from now we may have a paper such as this being written on the de-extinction of neanderthals. Although it may not escalate that quickly, it is in human nature to want to go above and beyond. Even with harsh guidelines put into place, it is almost inevitable that the next leader will lessen those restrictions, and the next, and the next.
The temperature of our planet can only raise 3.6 degrees (fahrenheit) more until global warming heads to the point of no return, according to the most recent UN Climate Change Report. With a number such as this, and such a small range of error, I firmly believe that if a ethical solution is found to prevent that 3.6 degree raise, it should be done. With one of those possible solutions being the resurrection of the Woolly Mammoth, I am almost all in- so long as regulations, rules, and precautionary measures be put into place. As stated earlier in my paper, the Wooly Mammoth has the foreseen impact of preventing the release of CO2 in the Arctic Tundra, one of the largest holders of this gas. Bringing back this species is one way to slow the release of CO2, and because of that, I am swayed to support the use of de-extinction for this purpose, Going off of that, I do however believe the de-extinction of multiple animals to be very unreasonable: between the high costs and struggle to ensure the survival of these animals, de-extincting multiple species and keeping them alive will be near impossible. However, the development of de-extinction technology is almost inevitable, so instead of trying to prevent it from occurring we should focus on what limitations we should put in place, whether we not use the technology at all, or use it with guidelines regarding topics such as hunting, commercial use, and use in general.
The goal I believe we should always have moving forward is to do no harm to our environment: this technology can have catastrophic impacts if used incorrectly, so thorough research must be done on all candidates. This alludes to the criteria that will be put into place, solving the puzzle of where the species will fit into today’s environment, and figuring out the issue of animals crossing borders. In addition, there must be precautionary measures put into place so that if something were to go off course, we can clean up the mess. I believe that to deal with a species after we realize the detrimental impacts to our environment it is causing, we should place the members of such species in ethical captivity. Can captivity be ethical? That depends on who you ask, but I believe that it can be done- if the animals live in an artificial habitat that is extremely spacious and similar to their previous one, and are not forced to do anything (and are fed the food they would otherwise consume living in the wild), it can be ethical. Of course captivity is not ideal, but by using this method we can not only collect some funding to put towards other conservation efforts, but it allows us to let these animals finish out their lives, instead of killing them.
In addition to that main goal, I believe that there are other issues that should be addressed before de-extinction is at our disposal; these issues include the role of the surrogate animal, and how our mindset will change when this “undo button” becomes available to us. As brought up by many animal rights activists, we cannot communicate with them, and they therefore have no say in many of the things we make them do- sure your dog may get super excited when you say the word walk, but how do you think he/she feels when you dress them up for halloween? Although a seemingly silly example, it just proves that we do what we want to do, not necessarily what they want. Going off of that, we have no right to force animals to surrogate another species. A solution I found to this issue was an artificial womb, which is used in the method of Genetic Engineering. The concern some scientists have with the use of an artificial womb is that because the embryo of a de-extinct species is already a bit unstable, the lack of surrogate mother when it is developing will cause it to fail. Nevertheless, the artificial womb is an option that eliminates the forced surrogation of these animals.
Moving on to how our society’s mindset will change if we use this technology, there are three ways I believe it will go: the first is that our mindset does not change. I don’t believe this to be the most likely, but it is still a possibility. The Second way our mindset can change is that the return of these species leads to more interest in the topic, and thus more funding and research to conserve the wildlife we already have. Both of these changes (or rather a change and staying the same) do not introduce any new negative mindsets: this comes with the third change. If we use this technology, I believe there is a high chance of our society becoming more careless. By this I mean that when an undo button is introduced, we won’t be as careful in the decisions we make- for example, when the computer replaced the typewriter, for the first time mistakes could be deleted and people became more careless in the way they typed. In the same way, I believe that if we introduce de-extinction, we will stop caring as much about the conservation of these species.
I believe that the development of this technology is inevitable, so although it seems unreasonable in terms of de-extincting multiple species, we should plan accordingly for the future by putting regulations into place. This way these is less room for the abuse of this technology, as well as a more organized and ethical system of use.