Segments in this Video

Debate "Housekeeping" (06:06)


John Donvan introduces the panelists and explains the debate format.

Opening Statement For: Lynn Rothschild (07:24)

Evolutionary biologist and astrobiologist, Rothschild explains how she will be discussing apex species such as the woolly mammoth, birds, passenger pigeon, heath hen, and the giant tortoise. Researchers need to be prepared to bring back over a hundred creatures to incorporate genetic diversity. The "seven E's" (extinction, evolution, ethology, emotions, economics, ethics, and ecosystem) prove that scientists should not bring back extinct animals.

Opening Statement Against: Stewart Brand (06:20)

Founder of the Whole Earth Catalog and co-founder of Revive and Restore, Brand argues for de-extinction. George Church's technique demonstrates how a scientist can use an existing animal genome to recreate an extinct one; the woolly mammoth is extremely close to the Asian elephant. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature publishes protocols for bringing back extinct creatures.

Opening Statement For: Ross MacPhee (07:05)

Curator in the Department of Mammalogy at the American Museum of Natural History, McPhee argues de-extinction is not really about bringing back completely extinct species. There is no track record that these creatures will not carry epigenetic or genomic disasters. MacPhee criticizes Church and Brand's theory of creating grasslands in Siberia using a new hybrid wooly mammoth/Asian elephant species.

Opening Statement Against: George Church (06:19)

Professor at Harvard and Massachusetts's Institute of Technology (MIT), Church argues that endowing creatures with new capabilities from an extinct species' DNA might help conservation practices. Twenty-five percent of Asian elephants are succumbing to the herpes virus; incorporating woolly mammoth DNA would help them relocate to a safer homeland and improve the environment.

Nostalgic or Guilt Induced? (07:12)

Donvan summarizes the opening statements. Brand argues that using extinct species DNA could help ameliorate the planet's loss of fauna and animals. Rothschild rebuts that creatures that are extinct will have more unintended consequences such as virus and bacteria. Clinical trials can prove safety and efficacy.

Pleistocene Park (04:59)

Panelists argue the efficacy of incorporating a woolly mammoth/Asian elephant hybrid in the Siberian tundra. Right now individuals are using caterpillar tractors to knock down trees.

Using Sentient Creatures (07:23)

Church argues that Asian elephants are going extinct and this might save the species. Rothschild and MacPhee agree that facilitated adaptation of a living species could prove beneficial. Whether researchers place elephants in Northern Siberia will not reverse climate change.

Philosophical and Statistical Issues (02:42)

Rothschild argues that the animals will suffer when performing de-extinction protocols. Church rebuts that there can be intermediates found who can train the animals.

Q/A: Ethical Obligation to De-Extinct (07:55)

MacPhee argues that safeguards need to be ironclad before performing de-extinction. Brand counters that there is a project in place to implant northern white rhino embryos into southern white rhinos. Rothschild rebuts that focus should be made to conserve endangered populations.

Q/A: Intellectual Property (01:55)

There are no ownership issues with extinct genomes unless there has been human intervention.

Q/A: Case by Case Basis (04:07)

MacPhee argues people will patent extinct species and become intellectual property. Brand counters that there are no commercial aspects to genetic rescue.

Q/A: Ecological Instabilities and Ethical Questions (06:00)

There can be consequences for the ecosystem; Rothschild worries the animals will suffer. Panelists discuss whether de-extinction can lead to something unacceptable, wrong, or disastrous. The same moral questions that arise about thinking back human ancestors should apply to any extinct species.

Q/A: Making Different Creatures (04:12)

Rothschild explains that the species would be the same if brought from the Pleistocene to the Anthropocene. Panelists debate the ethical differences in bringing back extinct animals that died through natural and artificial selection.

Concluding Statement For: MacPhee (02:42)

Synthetic biology could solve ecological problems. Ecosystem biology reduces the number of meat animals and requires less land to grow them. Science, ethically and imaginatively applied, is the only long-term fix for conserving nature.

Concluding Statement Against: Church (01:43)

Church compliments the opposing side for their arguments, but emphasizes that scientists should not be limited in exploring extinct species' genetics.

Concluding Statement For: Rothschild (02:32)

Rothschild worries about something unacceptable, wrong, or disastrous occurring and summarizes her seven "E" reasons against de-extinction. There are reasons the species went extinct in the first place. Pleistocene Park is just as bad as "Jurassic Park."

Concluding Statement Against: Brand (02:29)

In-vitro fertilization children have become normal. A vote against the resolution is a vote for biodiversity and increased life.

Time to Vote (03:50)

Donvan compliments panelists on their conduct and instructs the audience to vote. Panelists discuss whether scientists should genetically end malignant species.

Audience Vote Results (01:17)

Pre-Debate - For: 31% - Against: 48% - Undecided: 21% Post-Debate - For: 48% - Against: 44% - Undecided: 8%

Credits: Don't Bring Extinct Creatures Back to Life: A Debate (00:09)

Credits: Don't Bring Extinct Creatures Back to Life: A Debate

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Don't Bring Extinct Creatures Back to Life: A Debate

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De-extinction describes the process of creating an organism that belongs to or closely resembles an extinct species. While this process was once a science-fiction fantasy explored in films like Jurassic Park, recent biological and technological breakthroughs suggest that reviving extinct creatures, like the passenger pigeon and the woolly mammoth, could soon become a reality. The benefits of de-extinction, supporters argue, include correcting mistakes of the past by bringing back extinct organisms and ecosystems that could help curb climate change. Many scientific breakthroughs are initially met with skepticism and worry, they note, but eventually become accepted and celebrated. Opponents of de-extinction, however, question whether it is ethical, let alone feasible, to bring back extinct creatures. They contend that reviving extinct species could cause serious and unforeseeable problems and reverse the course of nature. It would be better, they advise, to focus on preventing current species—thousands of which are endangered—from going extinct. Should scientists bring extinct species back to life?

Length: 95 minutes

Item#: FMK185240

ISBN: 978-1-64481-895-4

Copyright date: ©2019

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