artist Joe Davis and Harvard scientist Dr. Eriona Hysolli will present their respective work on (1) microbial and (2) megafauna
de-extinctions. During the presentations at the University of Applied Arts Vienna they will give a critical insight into the
context of their work on de-extinction against the background of global climate change, and discuss and elaborate probable
implications. Along with talk on hypersaline resurrections from meteorites and mineral salts Joe Davis will give his account
on new technologies for creating 3D archives in extremophiles, that can persist for at least a half-billion years.
Due to breakthrough advances in genomics, the resurrection of long-extinct species — or at least “proxy” species with traits
and ecological functions similar to the extinct originals—is becoming feasible. The resurrection of the woolly mammoth is
close at hand, claim scientists such as Harvard scientist George Church and his team at the Harvard Medical School.
But what is the intention behind bringing back the fauna of the Pleistocene? The tundra and the taiga were once a grassland
ecosystem known as the “mammoth steppe”, roamed by mammoths and other species such as caribou, horses, bison, and others.
The extinction of these mammals and the conversion of the ecosystem away from rich grasslands towards perennial plants once
marked the end of the Pleistocene. Now, these ecosystems are contributing to human-driven climate change because the greenhouse
gases, which are trapped in the permafrost, will be released in the atmosphere, as global warming accelerates its melting,
thus escalating the warming phenomenon.
One solution to tackle the problem of climate change is to geo-engineer
those regions back into grasslands and, of course, with the grazing animals of 10,000 years ago. There is evidence that grazing
by larger herbivores and the accompanying effects lead to deeper freezing of the permafrost in the winter months, as Eriona
Hysolli explains: “The animals will trample the snow and therefore allow the cold Arctic temperatures to penetrate deeper
into the soil. Thus, the organic matter buried inside does not convert to CO2 and methane upon decomposition. Furthermore,
the fertilization of the soil by animal excrement allows for more nitrogen circulation in an otherwise closed nitrogen circle
in the Arctic”.
Grasslands are believed to sequester more carbon from the atmosphere than any other ecosystem.
An extremely powerful tool to battle climate change emerges here against the background of genetic engineering and its powerful
new tool CRISPR.
It is a great honour to have members of the George Church Laboratory at Harvard Medical School
at the University of Applied Arts Vienna to discuss these new and mind-blowing questions.
Contact: Günter Seyfried,
Department of Media Theory, University of Applied Arts Vienna (email@example.com