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This is still a lot to consider. What do you guys think?

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The Brain Scoop is hosted by:
Emily Graslie

Written By:
Emily Graslie and Michael Aranda
(With some special help from Henry Reich http://www.youtube.com/minutephysics)

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Hank Green (http://www.youtube.com/hankschannel)

Directed, Edited, Animated, and Scored by:
Michael Aranda (http://www.youtube.com/michaelaranda)

Hey! Thanks to Martina Šafusová, Diana Raynes, Katerina Idrik, Sabrina, Tony Chu, Seth Bergenholtz, and Barbara Velázquez for transcribing the dense language of this episode. You are the b0mb.
[intro]

Hey everyone, so on the last episode of the Brain Scoop, we started to talk about de-extinction and a little bit about the science behind it, if you want to watch that episode, click right here. 3, 2, 1, too slow, haha.

Today, we're going to talk a little bit about the philosophy and the moral implications of de-extinction. This new sudden interest in de-extinction is due in part because of an imminent mass extinction. There have been extinctions that have occurred before in the past, but those have all been the result of astronomical or climactic events. This one is due in part because of human interference. Things like climate change and overpopulation are resulting in the quick extinction of many different species. So in an effort to kind of stall that or reverse it, people are now investing themselves into their research project on de-extinction, which, in effect, brings back those species that we are causing to go extinct today.

So I guess you could say what's fueling this is more of a moral obligation that, if we have the means and the technology, we need to bring these extinct species back because we were the ones who made them go extinct in the first place. So if you consider that we're responsible for making all of this flora and fauna go extinct over the past 800 years, that's a lot of species, and how do we really pick which ones we need to bring back? Do we choose the ones that have most captured our imagination, like the woolly mammoth or the thylocean? The ones that everyone knows about and thinks are really cool and exciting and everybody wants to have a puppy-sized mammoth or do we choose the ones that have left the largest ecological voids in their passing?

If you think about it, climate change is already resulting in the loss of habitat for these arctic creatures like the polar bear and the arctic fox. How can we sustain an entire population of woolly mammoths in the same environment? And their entire diet is gone and their ecology is gone, they don't really have a place to go. And, if we bring them back, what kind of impact are they going to have on the species that are still there? Are they going to be considered an invasive or endemic species at that point?

We're already having a really difficult time trying to conserve populations of Asiatic and African elephants today. Should we really be putting all of our conservation efforts in bringing back a woolly mammoth when we don't know where it's going to fit in the ecological spectrum? Or should we be trying to conserve these populations that we already have?

So, if we do decide that we have a moral obligation to bring these species back, where do we draw the line as far as cost goes? And I don't mean cost just in a financial sense. I also mean cost as in the amount of time and energy and resource and national funding that go into these kind of projects.

The passenger pigeon used to be one of the most prolific bird species in the world. Flocks of millions of the would fly over cities and block out the sunlight, until they were hunted until extinction. What would happen if we had those kind of huge populations here today? New York already has a problem with their pigeon species, so what would it really help introducing an extinct species again?

I think it might be kind of obvious how I feel about this subject, but I want to know what you guys think and I want to know what kind of positive implications you see if we bring back some of these species from extinction. So let us know in the comments below. Once again, this episode of the brain scoop was generously brought to you by audible.com and they're still giving away a free audio book to viewers of the brain scoop. I recommend On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin, the abridged version, narrated by Richard Dawkins. Michael Aranda loves Richard Dawkins! Thanks for watching and be sure to check out audible.com/brainscoop and stay tuned because our footage from the Chicago Field Museum is coming up soon.

[outro]