Resurrecting the Woolly Mammoth and Other Climate Moonshots
As scientists have slowly come to grasp the seriousness of climate change, many have begun to doubt that humans can transition away from fossil fuels fast enough to avoid serious ecological collapse on land and in the oceans. Some researchers have suggested that we should take unusual measures to prevent these outcomes. Among the more familiar of these “moonshots” is the plan to cool the planet by seeding its atmosphere with sun-reflecting aerosols. But more recently, Russian scientists have proposed an even wilder scheme to cool the Arctic’s melting permafrost with lab-grown woolly mammoths. A paleo-ecologist and a renowned earth systems scientist join science writer Ross Andersen—who recently spent several weeks on assignment in Siberia exploring the giant craters that inspired the woolly mammoth moonshot—to explore the possibility and the difference it could make.
Ross Andersen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the science, technology, and health sections
Jacquelyn Gill is an assistant Professor of Paleoecology & Plant Ecology at the University of Maine
Robert Max Holmes is the deputy director and a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center