Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Haley Reading Group: Barry Yeoman’s "Billions to None"


[The Best American Science and Nature Writing (2015)]

Barry Yeoman’s article “Billions to None” addresses a project that seeks to bring the passenger pigeon back after threats to their extinction. Scientists are working to genetically engineer the biology of the bird with related pigeon species. Ideally, they would like to come up with a passenger pigeon (adjacent) creature. However, bringing the bird back into current ecosystems that could lead to various unpredictable consequences.

After reading Yeoman’s article, what was one point concerning the issues of de-extinction efforts that stood out to you? Why? Please provide a page number citation.

50 comments:

Gabriel Bressendorff said...

One concerning fact made itself clear to me while reading this article. The efforts to bring this species back are very commendable, but in order for them not to become extinct again, humans have to change. Humans are very violent creatures, and sadly, that is not something that will change. Even if the carrier pigeons were brought back, who's to say that the same thing wouldn't happen again? "They attacked the birds with rakes, pitchforks, and potatoes." (pg. 300).

Ivyanne B. said...

Something that I found concerning in this passage was it said "They doubt that the birds could survive without the enormous flocks of the 19th century. And they question Novak's belief that the forests could safely absorb the reintroduction" (pg.303). I thought this was concerning because why would you bring back a species if you don't know if it will survive. I know that if the bird did survive it would be great. But we shouldn't put other things a risk of dying for bringing back a bird thats extinct. We could be possibly killing the forest with the introduction of this bird that might not even survive.
-Ivyanne B.

Qcadwell said...

What was concerning to me was the disregard of the ethics in relation to the resurrection of extinct species. The ethics concern was the logistics of bringing an extinguished animal back to life through cloning or abusing other animals. The other concern is the potential damage done by releasing a species into an ecosystem that is not accommodated to them, putting even more species in jeopardy (302). The point of this story is that while an animal going extinct is awful, they should be taught as a lesson and not brought back to life.

Joke Adanri said...

The part of this article I found the most concerning a statement made on page 298 “…researchers have agreed that the bird was hunted out of existence, victimized by the fallacy that no amount of exploitation could endanger a creature so abundant.” We as humans don’t do a good enough job at protecting our wildlife and that’s why so many animals that were once so bountiful are now endangered. We have to do a better job at protecting their habitats and become more educated on cruelty in hunting

Mackenzie Cohoon said...

The most concerning fact about de-extinction is that people are trying to bring back animals that are already extinct. While what happened to these animals is very tragic, it's not natural to bring them back when they are already gone. On page 303, it says that "he hopes animals brought back from extinction-not just birds but eventually also big creatures like woolly mammoths-will draw the public to zoos in droves". While it is for a good cause, I do not believe that using technology to bring back an entire population is the right way to go because there are also many risks.

Jasmyn Kloster said...

After reading Barry Yeoman’s article, one point concerning the de-extinction efforts that stood out to me was how the new hybrid species would affect the current ecosystem. On page 303 he states, “If you put the organism back in, it could be disruptive to a new dynamic equilibrium……it could have repercussions that we’re probably bit fully capable of predicting.” These animals are extinct because of natural selection. Trying to reverse this could produce negative effects. It could throw off natures course and create major problems. Rather than trying to bring back old species, we should be trying to figure out better ways to save the animals we have now that may be extinct soon.

Christine Sheriff said...

Barry Yeoman's piece explored the concept of bringing passenger pigeons back to life. After being gone so long, reintroducing this species back into our world would be interesting to say the least. Bringing them back would be concerning because "the ecosystem has moved on," as stated on page 303. It has been 100 plus years since the birds extinction and bringing back these birds seems very unpredictable. Instead of trying to "bring back the dead" so to speak, us humans should work on the preservation of the Earth to help prevent even more species from disappearing in the future to come.

Anonymous said...

On page 303 the author says, "They doubt the birds could survive without the enormous flocks of the 19th century." This stood out to me because it is saying that this new species most likely won't survive in the wild. If the species most likely won't survive, why should we do all this research on bringing extinct species back. Also, the ecosystems have changed since these birds have become extinct, therefore it could cause problems for not only the species itself, but for the ecosystem as a whole.

-Jada Baker

Tyla Lucas said...

I think that the most concerning thing about de-extinction is the impact it will have on the environment. It potentially has ramifications that we can not predict. The passenger pigeon has been extinct for over hundred years and the "ecosystems has moved on" (303) according to Stanley Temple, a professor at the University of Wisconsin. The environment is not ready for an animal that has been dead for a hundred years to reenter the ecosystem. The passenger pigeon would be competing with other birds for food,shelter, and other essentials. If this bird once populated in the millions or even the billions they could potentially force other species to become extinct, not to mention how millions of birds in the sky would be extremely dangerous.

Shaina Falkner said...

The biggest concern that I had after reading Yeoman's article was that they are trying to bring back animals that no longer exist through science and technology. I believe life should only be formed naturally, not in a science lab. In my opinion, this would be stepping over the line as far as what we should be able to do with technology, only because we cannot be 100% sure of the outcome, which can lead to many risks and danger to them and to us. On page 303, he writes, "...he hopes animals brought back from exinction-not just birds but eventually, also, big creatures like woolly mammoths...". If a small mistake were to be made during the creation of an animal like a woolly mammoth, it could cause a lot of trouble.

Jonathan Sanchez said...

The article brought up many points but one of them concerned me greatly. On page 298, Yeoman explains that the Passenger Pigeon was hunted into extinction. This Concerned me because the greed that we as humans possess poses a big threat to our ecosystem. Our greed has become a threat to many animals. These animals include tigers, elephants, and crocodiles. If we can realize our mistake and correct and stop our greed we can fix this problem.

Alliyah M. said...

In the article, the one concern of the de-extinction efforts that stood out was how it seemed the researchers behind the Revive & Restore plans failed to observe every positive and negative outcome of de-extinction on the environment. On page 303, Temple stated "It's not altogether clear that putting one of these extinct species from the distant past back into an ecosystem today would be much more than introducing an exotic species. It would have repercussions that we're probably not fully capable of predicting."

I found it extremely risky trying to bring extinct animals back into our ecosystem because there's no definite way we can completely predict the effects of this. There has to be some truth that our ecosystem has adapted to live without these extinct animals.

Raillane Kamdem said...

One point of the de-extinction of the passenger pigeon that really stood out to me was when one scientist talked about if “a hybrid animal could really be called a passenger pigeon”, they doubted “the birds could survive without the enormous flocked of the 19th century” and honestly the ecosystem has probably moved on (pg303). This point stood out to me because once an animal is extinct, especially for a long time, it is true that the ecosystem somewhat moves on. Some scientists don’t like to think about this but sometimes it can be true that trying to revive an extinct animal when the environment has already adapted to its loss can be detrimental to both the animal and the ecosystem. We should focus our energy more on presentation not de-extinction.

Kamela Cross said...

One concerning point with trying to revive the passenger pigeon is the humans that destroyed their species in the first place. Even if we bring them back who's to say that humans, of a more advanced age, won't just use more advanced technology to try to kill what they think is an annoying pest. While it is commendable that scientist are trying I think this species has had its time on earth and if they can't defend themselves than they simply can't be here anymore. Like Charles Darwin, I believe this world is a survival of the fittest.

Daeja Daniels said...

Daeja Daniels

The idea of de-extinction is very alarming and concerning to begin with. This would causes great changes to the ecosystems that we have today. Instead of focusing on de-extinction we should learn to protect the animals that we have now. The idea of bringing anything back from extinction is not natural. On page 303, it says that "he hopes animals brought back from extinction-not just birds but eventually also big creatures like woolly mammoths-will draw the public to zoos in droves". Science has already proven that species evolve and change over time. Bring animals back that lived so long ago would do more harm than good for us and them. Our environment is not the same as it was when these animals lived therefore, creating a problem for ourselves.

Kailey Main said...

when reading "From billions to none" by Barry Yeoman, a concerning part that stuck out to me was when Yeoman said,"Project Passenger Pigeon's leaders hope that by sharing the pigeon's story, they can impress upon adults and children alike our critical role in environmental conservation(298)." This part stuck out to me because I feel like just simply sharing the pigeon's story will not really give that much of an impact on individuals.Humans are pretty selfish creatures so if it does not directly affect them then usually they never really do anything useful with the new information they learn.

Alishiana Ivy said...

Barry Yeoman’s article Billions to None is about a project that brings back a species of birds that are having threats to their extinction. One thing that i personally found concerning was on page 303 when he states that “he hopes animals are brought back from extinction”. I found this ironic because humans are usually the main cause of extinction in…. Well everything. Another concern that I have is that the animals might throw off the balance of the food chain and cause other animals to go extinct.

Anonymous said...

The act of genetically resurrecting an extinct species could potentially cause problems as the article said. "If you put the organism back in, it could be disruptive to a new dynamic equilibrium"(303). Throughout the article all I could ask myself was, "Why is there so much focus on bringing species back and not on preserving the ones alive now?" I think human curiosity for what was needs to be channeled into how to preserve what is.
-Desmond Crumer

Kendall Clark said...

On page 302, author Barry Yeoman discusses the necessities of resurrecting extinct animals. The plan consisted of using a different species of birds by altering their genomes to be as close to the passenger pigeon as possible. This is concerning because altering even one part of an ecosystem can have detrimental environmental effects. Although research indicates forests could support a reintroduced population, you never know how it will effect an ecosystem until it is too late.

Kalonji Rumph said...

I thought that the article was really interesting. Page 303, in particular, talked about efforts that are being made to bring back the extinct passenger pigeon via bioengineering. It amazes me that this is a real possibility and this same concept could be applied to larger mammals. While this is a really cool concept I think it's very important for us to be careful because the ability for a species to literally engineer life is something that nature hasn't accounted for and it could upset the balance of the natural world. This reminds me of Jurrasic Park.

Kiara Coker said...

As an active member of society reading this passage raised a few red flags for me. The beauty of nature has deteriorated over time due to human activity and this is emphasized when Barry Yeoman expands on the Ectopistes migratorius species and how they vastly declined in number. In the beginning, he talks about the grandest waterfall, deep valley, and how it was covered with this magnificent species. He elaborates on how they nesting birds took over whole forests. It saddened me when he discussed how small the number of the species had gotten. Overal, the passage did a great job at vividly showing how these birds went from billions to none.

Brianna Pickens said...

There are many topics that could be considered concerning. The main idea of this passage is to talk about the de-extinction of animals. Scientists believe that they can revive no longer existing species such as the wooly mammoth. While it is great to see this kind of aspiration, do we really believe that something like the wooly mammoth would live a healthy life in our environment? As Yoeman states on page 303 "the ecosystem has moved on."

Tomika Collins said...

Yeoman's article "From Billions to None" in my opinion was quite disturbing. The idea of bringing back already extinct animals is unnatural and unnecessary. These animals are dead so let it be people. The author writes, "...he hopes animals brought back from extinction-not just birds but eventually, also, big creatures like woolly mammoths.." (303) Really?? How insane is this. I don't like to walk down the street and run into a stray dog let alone a woolly mammoth. With creatures like dinosaurs walking the streets and pterodactyls swooping down from the skies humans would then be the ones EXTINCT!! Barry Yeoman please reconsider this idea.....

Samontriona P said...

After reading the article by Barry Yeoman, I feel as though this de-extinction is not such a good idea. On page 303 the author states, "If you put an organism back in, it could be disruptive to the new dynamic equilibrium...It would have repercussions that we're probably not fully capable of predicting." This stood out to me because what he stated was very much true. In my opinion adding them back into the world would not be a good idea because it is not a natural process.

Kobi Phillips said...

After reading Barry Yeoman's article "Billions to None" I was extremely concerned with his quote that read "they shot the pigeons and trapped them with nets, torched their roots, asphyxiated them with burning sulfur. They attacked the birds with rakes, pitchforks, and potatoes."(300) This to me is awful. It is no surprise to me that these birds are extinct after reading these ways that people were taking advantage of them. If us humans as a whole wish to end the extinctions of such beautiful animals, we will all need to work together to forbid the killing of helpless animals.-kobi phillips

Lena Searcy said...

I was baffled at the idea of de-extinction when I first read the article. It is sad to think that people would hunt an animal to its extinction. However, it seems unnatural to bring an extinct animal back to life, the passage states "Other experts weren't so sanguine. They question whether the hybrid animal would really be called a passenger pigeon." (303). The Revive and Restore project as well as the whole de-extinction reminded me a bit of Frankenstein. The extinction was unfortunate but once something is dead, it is gone. This may effect the environment even more and end up becoming a larger problem. While it may seem like an interesting idea, putting de-extinction into place may be dangerous.

Kameron Lindsey said...

"The extinction was part of the motivation for the birth of modern twentieth-century conservation" (pg. 301) I believe that if the de-extiction of the passenger pigeon, were to happen now the species would be able survive without the threat of humans causing their extinction again. this is due to the conservation laws that have been but in place since their extinction.

Kameryn Sabino said...

From Billions to None had plenty of points for the problems of human participation in nature. One point that stood out to me was the fact that a big percentage of other species of animal in the world are affected by humans now and us doing further tampering can jeopardize even more of the ecosystem. On page 304, "an estimated 25 percent of mammals, 41 percent of amphibians, and 13 percent of birds are threatened", all thanks to humans. That makes you really wonder if letting humans do yet another thing to nature is a good idea.
-Kameryn Sabino

James Beverly said...

Yeoman’s article was in fact very interesting! It was concerning how bringing back certain species could bring up certain implications with the environment. By bringing back species we must be conscious of the food web and showing how it will disorient the food web and can possibly lead to the lessening of a species. One point that really stood with me was how he stated that the main concern would be to preserve the environment at all costs. This is important to me because I’m one of those individuals who cares for he environment. Overall. It was an interesting reading and very informative.

Youssef Hassan said...

It is shocking to realize that it's possible for a species with a very high population to suffer from extinction. I liked how the a comparison was made to how others think about climate change and endangering species. It's also cool to think about genetic manipulation as a way to sort of bring back the pigeon population. But it is gonna take more than amazing zoos to convince many people to support the protection of wildlife.

Chidera Onyeizeh said...

I don’t think humans should play creator. The human species lead to the extinction of the carry pigeons. On page 303 it said bringing back the pigeons would upset the balance
nature establish in unpredictable ways. Although it is sad that the pigeons are gone because of human destructive nature I feel that they should stay gone.

Chidera Onyeizeh

Ronnie Akpan said...

One message from Barry Yeoman's "Billions to None" that struck out to me right away was around pages 298-303 when it mentions that the lack of pigeon's staying together was due to them all being separated rather than flocking and how certain practices they could've done could've decreased the extinction rate. This message stands out to me in the way that if humans, as silly as this sounds, took note of what these animals were doing/certain practices, our human life on Earth could be more efficient (average age of death would be higher)....even though we will all eventually become extinct from this planet anyway.

Avant Hall said...

I actually had no idea that this species of bird ever existed. You can relate to the extinction to what's going on with the climate right now. the birds became extinct because no one thought that they could ever be harmed because of their size. Global warming is a huge problem and many people think that nothing could ever change the earth because of how big it is or how slow it's happening. I also wanted to know if the benefits of having the birds outweighs the negatives because i could see mostly problems stemming form having such a massive flock of birds around.

Rodney Clark said...

Barry Yeoman's "From Billions to None", can be summed up as bird conservation. He goes into details about how certain birds, such as passenger pigeons, have gone extinct. According to page 300, they were hunted relentlessly and had brutal tactics used against them. One such tactic was poison. People felt so strongly about their extinction that they started a group to revive extinct animals. However they were met with skepticism by other experts who said, "The ecosystem has moved on" (Barry Yeoman 303). They are in fact correct in that regard but the other side is fighting for it regardless. Many people feel strongly about extinct animals and this highlights those feelings towards birds. Some people wish to see the flock containing millions of birds blackout out the sky. But, the people who feel like attempting this manipulation will contain to push back. It is important to prevent extinction and revive and restore might be a solution.

-Rodney Clark

Devin Ellis-Martin said...

After reading this article many interesting subjects appeared to me. Of these, the most important would be the reoccurrence of this animal would not be able to survive in the current environment. “Ecosystems has moved on." was stated on page 303. This is important because it has been too long since this organism has dissapeared.
-Devin Ellis-Martin

Taija Cook said...

One concern I had in this article is on page 303, He hopes animals brought back from extinction- not just birds but eventually also big creatures like woolly mammoths will draw the public to zoos in droves, generating revenues that can be used to protect wildlife. " De-extinction can get the public interested in conservation in a way that the last forty years of doom and gloom has beaten out of them," he says. I do not understand why they would bring back an animal that has died out. Natural selection has chosen that this species of animal is not fit enough to live on this earth. If they begin to pick and choose what animals stay on this earth then the earths ecosystems will negative outcomes. We must not mess with the natural ecosystem that we have.

Marley McCoy said...

The most concerning part of the article is that reintroducing extinct species could cause more problems than it may solve. On page 303 Yeoman talks about how bringing back some species could disrupt the environment that has already moved on. This makes me wonder if we should even try to bring back extinct species as it could cause problems. Also I think that it is way more important that we keep living species from going extinct, rather than bringing back already extinct species.

Anonymous said...

One thing that stood out to me was whether or not the new bird could really be called a passenger pigeon or not. Ben Novak said, "...if it looks and acts like a passenger pigeon, the natural historians arc going to say 'This is Estopistes migratorius.'" I do not believe it could be called a passenger pigeon due to the fact that it is not from the origainal lineage of the pecies, therefore it will not truly be related to them.
-Kevin Cox

Abraham Carmichael said...

This article is so interesting because of the many ethic dilemmas surrounding the topic. The article talks about De-Extinction which has many problems itself. Humans want to bring back certain species but only to satisfy human needs. It's also wrong to play with life and death, as we were not made to play God's role.

Christen King said...

A concerning statement stood out to me while reading this article. On page 303, it explains the Novak hopes to bring back multiple types of extinct animals; "He hopes animals brought back from extinction-not just birds but eventually, also, big creatures like woolly mammoths...". That is not natural and could mess up the balance of the ecosystem. Regardless, if humans are to blame or not, animals are suppose to die off; it's apart of evolution. Recreating animals does not seem like a smart idea and I'm skeptical that they would be able to live in the conditions on the world today. What is the need for a woolly mammoth in today's time, what will it eat, where will it live? Bringing back extinct animals will dissemblance the ecosystem and could cause for some unforeseen problems.

Kayla Summy said...

In reading this I was brought in by the fact that they are attempting to bring back the passenger pigeon. "Revive and Restore is attempting something far more ambitious and controversial: using genetics to bring the bird back. (298)" This is something that could help the environment a lot if successful in other cases yet it is also considered "playing god" among other cultures and beliefs.

Stella Nguepnang said...

When reading Yeoman's article I really thought about how much humans like control. I do not believe that we should play God and instead should focus more on our own lives. I think the unpredictability of the world we live in is what makes it beautiful. To tamper with it would be to harm the true identity of the earth. But at the same time I do not believe that things are better left completely in touched. I think we have the ability to make a difference and help species out for a reason. The real question is how much is too much.

Breonna Roberts said...

I think bringing back the passenger pigeon, jus t for the sake of bringing back the bird isn't too bad of an idea. Of course, that would be hard and maybe even impossible, but the idea of recreating a population of a once thriving animal is never a bad idea. Although, bringing it back for the intention of using it for anything else. I don't know exactly the whole significance of the bird and why they believe they should try to de-extinct it because there are already a lot of birds, which I guess who be the most alarming or concerning part of the passage. Nothing in the passage itself but just the fact that someone thinks they should bring back a species of bird when there are already enough birds in my opinion. It also talked about wanting to bring back bigger species of animals one day, which is completely terrifying to me considering eggs left from the dinosaur age were found AND full of embroys. I think all extinct animals, that are extinct due ot natural reason and not humans, do not need to be de-extincted.

Jayla Pierce said...

Greenberg notes “The industry that paid people to kill these birds said, ‘If you restrict the killing, people will lose their jobs,’ the very same things you hear today.” Yeoman wrote, “For the rest of us, though, it could serve as a call to take responsibility for how our personal and collective actions affect wildlife and climate.” Both these quotes show both sides to this issue. There’s also two sides to every problem and both sides have probable reason. As I was reading I saw how these birds affected the people that were being directly affected, but would they be affected if they didn’t cause the birds to migrate and find other homes. If humans didn’t personally affect wildlife and climate with their actions, maybe none of this would have happened. Things like pollution and deforestation cause things like this to happens. We have to be more aware of how we are affecting the environment because our actions have negative consequences on the world around us.

Dayejah Coates said...

After reading the article, I am concerned that is a possibility that scientists will risk causing changes in ecosystems today by bringing the bird back, just for humans to allow them to go extinct again. I feel this way because of how the author described the hateful acts that humans had towards the birds on page 300. Also, there isn't a huge amount of awareness on the topic, which means that people could do things the harm the species either unknowingly, or just because they don't know how rare they are.

Jada James said...

Page 303 says, "They doubt the birds could survive without the enormous flocks of the 19th century. And they question Novak's belief that the forests could safely absorb the reintroduction." This greatly concerns me. Yes, maybe it's possible to bring back passenger pigeons, but do the benefits outweigh the risks? Isn't it only responsible to be sure of the answers to these questions before going ahead with a de-extinction attempt? It seems risky to me that there is a plan in place to bring back the passenger pigeon without a long term study done to see the possible environmental effects that it could possibly have.

Kelsey McNeil said...

Something that really stood out to me in this reading is on page 300 when it talks about the "professionals and amateurs together out-flocked their quarry with brute force." This stood out to me so much because the way that they got rid of the birds was very aggressive even and didn't really seem necessary. They go on to say that while these birds migrating together is a great thing it also can come back to hurt them like in this situation because that makes them more vulnerable.
On page 302 it begins to talk about how there are efforts going on to bring this type of pigeon back from extinction. It was described that they would use molecular biology to bring the animals back. I think that it's very interesting to see how far our science has come an dhow it might be possible to bring back animals that were extinct

Isaiah Johnson said...

This article really showed me how dangerous mankind could be. As humans, without any natural defense, unlike clawed, beaked, poison spiked, etc animals, we still find a way to be the most dangerous species on this planet. A species going from billions in a flock to extinct in half a century is a horrifying thing to see. The backwards logic stated in the beginning saying "No amount of exploitation can rid of a species so abundant" stuck with me the entire article. Mankind's most dangerous weapon truly is ignorance. This article hit me pretty hard.

Kiana S said...

This reading was one that I couldn't exactly get on board with. The thought of de-extinction just doesn't make sense to me especially since they are creating a hybrid bird similar to the passenger pigeon. One of the first things that popped in my head when I started reading this was that its pretty much like throwing a whole new species in the mix and that can mess up the balance of the ecosystem. Later in my reading I saw that others had the same view. "The ecosystem has moved on...If you put the organism back in, it could be disruptive to a new dynamic equilibrium. (p.303)" I do agree that how they became extinct isn't really natural selection, but I think that trying to undo the mess we made will only make things worse.

Dejanee Geeters said...

People are trying to bring back animals that are already extinct. In my opinion if it’s gone , let it at least Rest In Peace. On page 303, it says that "he hopes animals brought back from extinction-not just birds but eventually also big creatures like woolly mammoths-will draw the public to zoos in droves". Being that they’re attempting to bring animals back as an attraction instead of a beauty of nature, it is wrong. The animals in the woolly mammoth time era will not be able to survive in outdoor conditions due to the difference of the climate, and they will practically be man made lab babies that will be sick or in danger if exposed to almost anything. This is not right, which it seems us humans can never do