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We Should be DNA Sequencing Endangered Species

May 8, 2012

Many animal and plant species alive today are at risk of soon becoming extinct. Global warming, excessive hunting and destruction of natural habitats are largely to blame for this. Some efforts are already underway to save some of these species, but sadly, it may be too little too late. Taking into consideration the current state of political affairs, it seems very unlikely we’ll be able to stop global warming within the next 20 to 40 years, and by then, many species will be going extinct. Some have already disappeared. This is a sad and likely irreversible loss to the biodiversity of this planet.

It seems that, at this point in time, there isn’t enough good will to save the many species that will likely become extinct soon. Doing so would require fundamental changes to the way our economic and political systems function, the kind of changes that likely won’t occur during this century. It’s unlikely we’ll be able to protect the natural habitats of all endangered species, and not all of them can be kept in a zoo, but I still believe we should be doing what we can to save these species anyway.

Genetic sequencing is becoming increasingly affordable and will soon even be within the reach of average citizens.  As such, it may be wise to begin efforts to sequence the DNA of endangered animals and plants. Doing so would allow scientists to study these animals, but it would also ensure that even if all members of the said species were to go extinct, something of that species would survive. It’s very likely that in the not-so-distant future, we may have the technology to bring extinct species back to life based purely on DNA sequences.

Practically speaking, this may be the simplest, safest and most economically realistic way to preserve endangered species. All that is required would be enough budget to allow scientists to sample the DNA of a few representatives of endangered species and digitally publish this material.

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From → Politics, Technology

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