WASHINGTON (March 12, 2013)—TEDxDeExtinction, hosted by the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C., on Friday, March 15, will be the first public forum on the groundbreaking science surrounding efforts to bring extinct species back to life, and the ethical and conservation issues that may arise.
The event is being organized by Revive & Restore, a nonprofit clearinghouse for worldwide de-extinction work, housed within The Long Now Foundation in San Francisco. It will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at National Geographic’s Washington, D.C., headquarters.
The topic of de-extinction is also the subject of the cover story in the April 2013 issue of National Geographic magazine and a one-hour National Geographic Channel special, “Mammoth: Back from the Dead,” premiering Friday, April 12, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
“Genomic technology is advancing so rapidly, now is the time to convene molecular biologists, conservation biologists and the public to consider how reviving extinct species might best proceed responsibly,” said Revive & Restore co-founder Stewart Brand.
TEDxDeExtinction will bring 25 of the world’s leading experts from the fields of conservation and advanced biotechnology onto a single stage to explore the benefits and complexities of de-extinction science. Presenters will discuss the ethical questions and selection criteria that are guiding current de-extinction work, while also reporting on the progress of specific species-revival projects that are underway, including Revive & Restore’s seminal project to bring the iconic passenger pigeon back to North America. Other species-revival projects that will be discussed involve the European aurochs, Pyrenean ibex, American chestnut, Tasmanian tiger and woolly mammoth.
The event will also highlight how new genomic technology complements the important work of conservationists protecting endangered species around the globe.
In fall 2012, the National Geographic Society, working with Revive & Restore, convened a gathering of international scientists working in the field of de-extinction for a private symposium in Washington. The dialogue and advances shared at the session set the stage for this first public discussion of the topic at TEDxDeExtinction.
National Geographic’s interest grew out of its long-standing commitment to supporting science and contributing to the understanding and conservation of the natural world. “De-extinction is a provocative idea that has tremendous scientific, ethical and ecological impacts,” said Terry Garcia, National Geographic’s executive vice president for Mission Programs. “We believe that thoughtful and informed discussion is the best way to illuminate a responsible course of action for individual projects and for this emerging field overall.”
“The prospect of de-extinction is exciting news for the TED community, because it offers us real hope for restoring damaged ecosystems, when so much of what we hear these days are stories describing our planet in peril,” said TED curator Chris Anderson. “This science offers us the chance to correct some human-caused extinctions, which is pretty groundbreaking when you think about it.”
Leading scientists in the field of de-extinction will present at TEDxDeExtinction, including George Church (Wyss Institute, Harvard University), Oliver Ryder (The Frozen Zoo, San Diego Zoo) and Stanley Temple (co-founder of Society for Conservation Biology). For a complete list of speakers and their bios, visit http://longnow.org/revive/tedxdeextinction/speakers/.
Individual tickets for TEDxDeExtinction cost $100 and are being sold online through the National Geographic ticket office. The ticket price includes both lunch and a wine reception with the speakers from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Webcast and viewing parties
The historic daylong event will be webcast through livestreamTEDx and nationalgeographic.com/deextinction. A series of “viewing parties” is being organized at science museums and college campuses around the world. Interested parties can check to see if there is a viewing party in their area.
About Revive & Restore
The mission of Revive & Restore is “ecological enrichment through extinct species revival.” It was founded by Ryan Phelan and Stewart Brand in 2012 as a project within The Long Now Foundation, a nonprofit “fostering long-term responsibility” based in San Francisco. Beside its focus on bringing back the passenger pigeon, Revive & Restore is serving as a clearinghouse for de-extinction and rewilding projects worldwide.
TEDx was created in the spirit of TED’s mission, “ideas worth spreading.” The program is designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences.
About National Geographic Society
The National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest membership-based, nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Its mission is to inspire people to care about the planet. Founded in 1888, National Geographic has funded more than 10,000 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects and supports an education program promoting geographic literacy. For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.com.