Friday, May 31, 2013

Stanford Deextinction Conference Live (Afternoon Session)

What follows is a skeleton outline of the afternoon presentations at the May 31, 2013, conference on deextinction at Stanford Law School.
Stanley Temple warned of the possibility that deextinction could compete with, and even deplete, conservation efforts centered on endangered species.  He also suggested that deextinction could supply biotechnologies useful to conserving endangered species, and that revived recently-extinct organisms could help restore ecological community integrity.
Kate Jones presented various criteria, such as phylogenetic uniqueness, that could be used to select candidates for revival.  She listed her priorities for revival:  the kakapo, Chinese giant salamander, and Javan rhinoceros.
Jamie Rappaport Clark announced that she "is not sure deextinction is an ESA thing at all." She nominated two species for revival: the sage grouse and Hawai'an 'i'iwi. She expressed worries that deextinction might weaken the Endangered Species Act, and suggested a "firewall" be erected between the two. She noted that she "has never seen [a U.S. government] less attuned to conservation issues." 
Hilary Bok reasoned that reviving extinct species would not right the wrong of driving them extinct in the first place. 
Jay Odenbaugh questioned whether or not the animal welfare interests implicated by a small number of revival experiments might be outweighed by the interests of a restored species. 
Ronald Sandler argued that deextinction may not reestablish ecological, evolutionary, cultural, or instrumental relationships.  He further suggested that species might be revived without reviving their value.
Although this conference raised more questions than were answered, even this result reflected the great value of gathering together so many deextinction experts.  Deextinction appears to be marching forward with quickened step.  Society would do well to prepare.