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De-extinction: Yay or Nay?

I wrote an article for class about the different positives and negatives regarding whether we should bring back extinct animals. As I present in the article, there are many different things, good and bad, that can and will happen if we bring back animals that have gone extinct. Here is the article:

 

Zoe Smith-Holladay

Debate Essay: Resurrecting Extinct Species

Period 5

April 16, 2017

Debate Essay: Resurrecting Extinct Species

Resurrecting extinct species–the closer we get to making it a reality, the more it becomes a hot-button issue. In a poll by Discover magazine, 70.4% of people polled said that we should bring back extinct species, if given the chance. This shows that the public is in support of what could be both a blessing and a curse, both of which reflect the pros and cons of de-extinction. As it becomes more of a reality, there appears to be a multitude of layers to this issue. Is resurrecting extinct species worth the hefty price that it will cost, or morally correct? The pros are that it has a novelty appeal, and it can also help with scientific advancements. The cons are that it is extremely expensive, and could distract us from helping the animals that do exist.

Nanotyrannus_lancensis_skullFirst, the pros. Although it may seem trivial, the truth, or, at least that which is accepted by the general public, cannot be ignored: the idea of resurrecting extinct species, specifically dinosaurs, is distinctly awesome. Dangerous and expensive, but awesome. The reason the public is behind the idea is because extinct animals would provide entertainment, as pets, companions and objects to observe (think Jurassic Park). There are more practical and substantive reasons for resurrecting extinct species. Bringing back extinct animals can and will give us insights into many different scientific disciplines. For paleontologists, it may answer some questions we still have not been able to figure out about ancient animals and their lives. For example, how the wooly mammoths went extinct, which is still being debated today. For zoologists, it may help them repair ecosystems and show how the environment and all its animals worked in as an ecosystems in their original state. For instance, what was the ecosystem like millions of years ago with dinosaurs in it. In addition, resurrecting extinct species plays to our sense of justice and righteousness; after all, if humans are the cause of an animal going extinct, it makes sense that we would want to bring them back to make up for it.

Feathered_Tyrannosaurus_model

On the other hand, while the pros focus on improving the knowledge and lives of humans today, both causally and scientifically, the cons focus on the financial side of things. One of the cons to bringing back extinct species is the cost; the estimate for bringing back and maintaining a single species, the Chatham Bellbird, is somewhere around $360,000 in the first year, so imagine what it will take to bring back the thousands of animals the humans have caused to go extinct. As tantalizing as it may seem to correct human wrongs that had been done to animals and our ecosystem, another point that is hard to ignore is: why should we focus our money and resources on bringing back extinct animals, instead of putting the money into helping the estimated 150-200 species of animals, plants and other living things that are going extinct every 24 hours? This argument creates a fundamental issue of morals that can apply to many things: should you correct wrongs you already committed, or try to stop the ones you will? Although the general public doesn’t typically get this deep into the argument (perhaps they are too caught up on the idea of real-life dinosaurs), this issue of morals may be something that we have to think about in the coming future.

Whether we should resurrect extinct species or not is an issue that we will continue to grapple with in the coming years. Even if we do decide now that it is overall not a good idea to bring back extinct creatures, there will always be that nagging bit of curiosity at the back of our minds about it. Although it may seem like we’re debating bringing back lumps of DNA contained in amber and ice, the issue is much more complex.

End

 

Now that you have read this article, do you think that we could bring back extinct species, or dedicate our resources to keeping the dying ones alive?

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Wise Words

"Never, never be afraid to do what's right, especially if a person or animal is at stake."
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

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— Translation of African Proverb

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