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Ben Mezrich: Environmental Advances

According to Ben Mezrich, a herd of woolly mammoths could be a vital resource in protecting our environment. He explains that geneticists at Harvard are on the verge of bringing back the Woolly Mammoth – a shocking statement that may be hard to believe.

Woolly mammoths lived until about 12,000 years ago when humans came around and began to hunt them. At that point, most of them went into extinction. However, a small family of woolly mammoths survived, living for another 8,000 years on an island where humans couldn’t reach them. The species became fully extinct 3,000 years ago.

Nowadays, the island has begun to melt because of global warming. Tusks and even perfectly preserved mammals are appearing in the melting ice. Scientists are going up and sending woolly mammoth’s remains back to labs.

Eventually, a group at Penn State sequenced the entire genome of a woolly mammoth. George Church, a scientist at Harvard (who has also given a TEDx talk) realized that he could recreate a woolly mammoth using the genome. Mezrich says, “You can pick the genes that code for a woolly mammoth – the red hair, the big tusks… These are 23 genes that make an elephant into a woolly mammoth. You then take those genes, you synthesize them, and you insert them into the embryo of an Asian elephant. So an Asian elephant gives birth to a woolly mammoth.”

There is a permafrost in Russia and Canada that contains extremely high levels of carbon and methane. If the region melts, the outcome will be very dangerous. However, Mezrich demonstrates how a herd of woolly mammoths can keep the permafrost colder and essentially. In doing so, they could potentially save the human race.

Ben Mezrich is an author who wrote the screenplay for The Social Network, 21, and many others. He has given a couple of TED talks, including a hilarious one about UFOs. Check out his other stuff!