If so many of earth’s species are currently facing extinction, how does it make sense to allocate scarce resources to trying to bring back already extinct creatures like woolly mammoths? Let’s take a look at the project’s sales pitch and judge just how worthy it is. First of all, there’s the “Jurassic Park” drawcard, making something a huge spectacle to showcase how awesome the company and researchers think they are, ultimately to earn more fame and money for themselves. If this is the goal, and the whole venture is designed to attract investors but not necessarily result in a successful product like so many Kickstarter or manned mission to Mars projects, then surely they have already achieved a significant part of their objectives by attracting US$15 million?
However, to give the project a veneer of respectability and really bilk investors of lots of cash, they needed to attach a token, and in this case highly questionable, ecological goal to provide justification for bringing back an already extinct animal. In this case, that is the “knocking down trees” ability of mammoths to restore the Arctic tundra. As is clear from the quotes from scientists not involved in the project, this supposed benefit is not just highly controversial, it is almost certainly impossible to achieve, even if this project was successful in creating elephant-mammoth hybrids. By the time even the first generation mammoth-elephant cross reaches maturity almost forty years from now – if they are successful, which is a huge ‘if’ – then it is very likely that the Arctic will have already succumbed to global warming and there won’t be any habitat left for the mammoths to live in anyway!
In reality, the project founders have probably already achieved the majority of their objectives of attracting publicity and more funding. Just by reading this article we are contributing to part of that. It makes you wonder though, how many achievable, practical and meaningful projects never even get off the ground because pipe dreams like these steal the limelight and starve them of funding?