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“In general, I like trees, but here, they are against our theory.”

Friday, March 10th, 2017

The Atlantic: Welcome to Pleistocene Park. “In Arctic Siberia, Russian scientists are trying to stave off catastrophic climate change—by resurrecting an Ice Age biome complete with lab-grown woolly mammoths.” By Ross Andersen, April 2017 Issue.

Includes a documentary film (26 minutes) and the audio version of the article (1 hour).

““Pleistocene Park is meant to slow the thawing of the permafrost,” Nikita told me. The park sits in the transition zone between the Siberian tundra and the dense woods of the taiga. For decades, the Zimovs and their animals have stripped away the region’s dark trees and shrubs to make way for the return of grasslands. Research suggests that these grasslands will reflect more sunlight than the forests and scrub they replace, causing the Arctic to absorb less heat. In winter, the short grass and animal-trampled snow will offer scant insulation, enabling the season’s freeze to reach deeper into the Earth’s crust, cooling the frozen soil beneath and locking one of the world’s most dangerous carbon-dioxide lodes in a thermodynamic vault.

To test these landscape-scale cooling effects, Nikita will need to import the large herbivores of the Pleistocene. He’s already begun bringing them in from far-off lands, two by two, as though filling an ark. But to grow his Ice Age lawn into a biome that stretches across continents, he needs millions more. He needs wild horses, musk oxen, reindeer, bison, and predators to corral the herbivores into herds. And, to keep the trees beaten back, he needs hundreds of thousands of resurrected woolly mammoths.”

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