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Is it ethical to bioengineer plants and animals to stop or reverse extinction? Questions raised during 60th annual Klein Lecture.

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image of professor ronald sandler speaking in front of crowd at john d o'bryant institute

Just because we could conceivably bring the wooly mammoth back to life, should we? That was among the many questions raised by Ronald Sandler, professor of philosophy and director of the Ethics Institute at Northeastern University, during the 60th annual Robert D. Klein lecture. The lecture was given Monday afternoon at the Cabral Center in the John D. O’Bryant African-American Institute on Northeastern’s Boston campus. Sandler began with what he said was an “uncontroversial” premise: “that anthropogenic extinctions (extinctions caused by humans) should be avoided because species and biodiversity are valuable.”

And as a result of this accepted precept, Sandler explained that conservationists favor place-based strategies — for example, protecting important habitats, restoring degraded environments, removing invasive species, etc. “The problem is this paradigm is under stress from the scale and the nature of the extinction crisis,” Sandler says. Indeed, Sandler says that species extinction rates have increased to hundreds or thousands of extinctions a year primarily because of habitat loss and direct taking of species (for example, industrialized fishing). And that’s even before climate change really starts to have an effect and puts even place-based conservation for many species at risk.

Read more at Northeastern Global News.

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