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Tomorrow’s world

The return of the woolly mammoth


American and Russian scientists believe they can resurrect woolly mammoths to offset the worst effects of climate change in Siberia, says Ingrid Burke Friedman in Foreign Policy. Harvard geneticist George Church plans to gene-edit Asian elephants to make them cold-resistant, virus-resistant and poacher-resistant (with shorter tusks). After gestating in artificial wombs, they would be released into Pleistocene Park, a sprawling nature reserve in northeast Siberia that’s being restored to grassland, the woolly mammoth’s natural habitat. The team, he says, is about 40 genetic tweaks – and “16 years” – away from creating the first embryo.

How can woolly mammoths fight climate change? The rapidly melting permafrost in the far north threatens to release 1,400 gigatons of methane, which dwarfs the 10 gigatons produced each year by humans. Herds of wandering mammoths, it’s thought, will crunch down and disperse snow, helping to insulate the permafrost. They should also prevent the growth of trees in Siberia’s grassland, which in unstable climates is a better “carbon sink” than forests. The “charismatic” beasts are good PR for the project, admits Church, who wants to allow other large herbivores to flourish. “They’re also vegetarian,” he says. “We didn’t want to bring back the T rex.”

The trillion-dollar city of the future

Billionaire Marc Lore, 50, hopes his “utopian dream” city will be coming to America soon, says Oscar Holland on CNN. Danish architect Bjarke Ingels has designed Telosa, a “15-minute city” where residents will be able to access their workplaces, schools and services in a quarter of an hour or less. If all goes to plan it will house five million people within 40 years.

At the heart of Telosa will be a glittering tower with elevated water storage, aeroponic farms that use mist, not soil, to grow produce, and an energy-producing “photovoltaic roof”. Gas-guzzling cars will be banned. Sensors around the city will allow autonomous vehicles to share the streets with pedestrians. Homes will be covered in plants.

Lore is one of life’s “winners”, says Joshua Brustein in Bloomberg. He founded two e-commerce startups and sold them for $550m and $3.3bn before spending five years running Walmart’s online shopping division, buying a stake in a baseball team and getting a reality TV show off the ground. He started a hedge fund in college, using money from his rich friends’ parents.

Telosa, which means “higher purpose” in ancient Greek, will be built on the idea of “equitism”, says Bryan Hood in the Robb Report. It’s a twist on capitalism centred on community ownership. The citizens will own shares in the land, which will increase in value the more people move there. Telosa could eventually be worth $1 trillion, says Lore, who is eyeing up 50,000-acre parcels of land in six states, including Nevada and Arizona. He gives the project a 20% chance of success and is hoping to get 50,000 people in during a “move-in month” in 2030. “The class of 2030,” he calls it.

🌆 🤦‍♂️ Plenty of “fascinating” city projects failed in the 1960s and 1970s, says Brustein. Among them: Minnesota Experimental City, a town that would have been partially enclosed in a geodesic dome; civil rights leader Floyd McKissick’s Soul City, planned for a former slave plantation in North Carolina; and Rose Island, a platform in the Adriatic Sea whose founder declared it an independent state in 1968, “before the Italian government dynamited it to the sea floor”.