Dear readers,

Vermeer, van Gogh, Monet: The protests of young climate activists are currently often directed against art. In Potsdam, for example, members of the Last Generation threw mashed potatoes at a painting by the Impressionist Claude Monet a few days ago. A lot of people don’t understand that. “Not only human dignity is inviolable, but also that of a work of art. Therefore: hands off,” wrote protest researcher Wolfgang Kraushaar in a guest article in the “Tagesspiegel”. Others – such as the journalist Aja Romano ask themselves: Why does the possible loss of a painting arouse in us so much more emotion, so much more repugnance than the destruction of the world?

“The climate crisis is killing us”

Because nothing else is happening right now. “The climate crisis is killing us” warns UN Secretary-General António Guterres. This week again many have studiesreports and forecasts are shown. We are heading for 2.5 degrees of warming – with all the catastrophic consequences that entail. But what governments are doing about it is nowhere near adequate. And of course the big oil companies, who were the target of Just Stop Oil’s van Gogh soup toss, also play an important role, as our infographic of the week shows.

Fact check of the week

It will probably soon be noticeably emptier on earth. According to experts, millions of animal species could become extinct in the coming decades because they lose their habitats. This has consequences for numerous ecosystems and also for humans. Researchers hope to stop this mass extinction – simply by cloning endangered species. Can this work? A fact check.

Cloning alone will not prevent species extinction. It’s too inefficient for that.

How do you clone animals?

Cloning animals is a very complex process. First of all, genetic material of the animal that is to be cloned is required. This often comes from the cell nuclei of skin cells. An egg cell is also required, ideally from the same animal. The cell nucleus of the egg cell is then removed under the microscope and replaced by the cell nucleus from the skin cell, which contains the DNA to be cloned. With the help of electricity, the egg cell is activated and it begins to divide. This procedure is called somatic cell nuclear transfer.

Are there already animals that have been cloned in this way?

In 1996, an animal was cloned for the first time using somatic cell nuclear transfer. It was Dolly the sheep. His genetic material came from an udder cell of an animal that had already been slaughtered. However, at the age of six, Dolly had to be put down due to severe pneumonia.

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The research continued: In the USA, the company Revive & Restore cloned a Przewalski horse and a black-footed ferret. The most recent example is Maya, an arctic wolf. She was born in China this year. Some clones are also used for commercial purposes. However, cloned animals remain very rare.

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Why?

In a way, cloning is a gamble. There are many stumbling blocks on the long road from the fertilized embryo to the living animal. For example, the egg cell has to reprogram the cell nucleus that is foreign to the cell within 24 hours, explains Claudia Klein, head of the Friedrich Loeffler Institute for Livestock Genetics in Neustadt (Lower Saxony). “It’s like having to learn to fly a jet plane by tomorrow. This will go wrong.”

The success rate remains low. It is between 2 and 3 percent, says Klein. This means that if you transplant 100 genetically modified egg cells, a maximum of two to three living cloned animals will be created. Because the procedure is so complex, the success rate cannot be increased significantly.

Is it then at all possible to stop the extinction of species with the help of cloning?

Cloning alone will not prevent species extinction. It’s too inefficient for that. And at the same time there are too many animals that are threatened with extinction. There are currently more than 41,000 animal species on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Cloning all these animals to save them is unthinkable. Selecting individual species that are worth cloning is, too. The more exotic the animals to be cloned, the more difficult it is to obtain egg cells. Also, not all animals can be cloned.

Which animals cannot be cloned?

Somatic cell nuclear transfer only works in mammals, fish, amphibians and some insect species. Birds, reptiles, and egg-laying mammals such as platypuses, on the other hand, cannot be cloned in this way. For them, other methods are needed to preserve breeds threatened with extinction: for example, primordial germ cells could be used instead of egg cells, explains geneticist Klein. These are cells from which later the sperm develop in male animals and the egg cells in female animals. In addition to the primordial germ cells, sperm from the animals can also simply be frozen, which can then be transplanted at any time. This method is also suitable for farm animals, says Klein.

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What do environmental and nature conservation organizations say about cloning?

For WWF Germany, cloning is not a way out of the biodiversity crisis. “Instead of trying to cure the symptoms, we must focus our efforts on eliminating the causes of species extinction,” says the environmental organization. “These are above all the destruction of the habitats of animals and plants, the overexploitation of nature, the climate crisis and environmental pollution. That is what we focus our work on.”

Without intact habitats, it makes no sense anyway to clone endangered animal species. They would quickly become extinct again if they could not find food, died out by disease, or were crowded out by humans through agriculture or deforestation. If at all, cloning can only be an additional means of preserving the species.

Infographic of the week

The 99 scientists find clear words: “Oil and gas companies are making record profits while their production strategies continue to undermine people’s lives and well-being.” For the current “Lancet Countdown 2022”, which mainly deals with the effects of global warming on the Careful about health, they examined the current production strategies of the largest oil and gas companies for their compatibility with the 1.5 degree target – regardless of their claims and commitments. Their conclusion: there is an urgent need for more and stronger regulations, controls and accountability.

Consumer tip of the week

After a bitter struggle, the EU has agreed that new cars must be emission-free from 2035. What does the decision mean for drivers?

Vehicles that have already been registered are not affected by the project. However, it is unclear how a decision will affect the prices for used combustion engines. A general ban on the sale of used cars with internal combustion engines is not planned. However, it is still unclear how the new rules will affect other areas such as the expansion of charging infrastructure or the coverage of filling stations. Plans to completely ban cars with internal combustion engines from the roads have not yet been discussed. It is realistic that a sales ban would automatically make classic petrol and diesel vehicles increasingly rare.

The RND climate podcast – listen here

The good news

The image provided by the US space agency Nasa shows a view of the Carina Nebula (Carina Nebula).  This

The image provided by the US space agency Nasa shows a view of the Carina Nebula (Carina Nebula). This “landscape” is the edge of a nearby young star-forming region called NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula.

Basically, all humans are made of stardust. This sentence is not only scientifically correct, explains RND columnist Insa Thiele-Eich. The thought can also give us courage in the face of climate change. “Man-made climate change will require huge transformations from us in the coming years, such as an energy transition – and we are currently realizing more than ever that this will not be easy,” she writes. “However, if I remind myself that we are all made of stardust – nothing more! – then it is really amazing what mankind has already achieved in its history.”

Current backgrounds

Events

  • Sunday October 30: The German Environment Prize is presented. The award, worth 500,000 euros, has been presented annually since 1993 by the German Federal Foundation for the Environment.
  • Tuesday, November 1: World Vegan Day was established in 1994 to mark the 50th anniversary of the British Vegan Society’s founding. On this day, campaigns will promote a diet without meat or animal products such as eggs and milk.
  • Friday November 4th: The 41st Conference of the Antarctic Commission CCAMLR is to be concluded. The twelve-day meeting is about the establishment of important marine protected areas in the Southern Ocean. The project has always been blocked by China and Russia.

The United Nations World Climate Conference begins on November 6th. In Egypt, almost 200 countries are discussing how the fight against global warming can be accelerated for two weeks. Time is running out. You will read all about it in our next issue.

Her

Anna Schughart and Laura Beigel

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