Introducing Kithyannie Heng's "My Fantasy Environment: A Narrative Cartography Project"

De-extinction of Woolly Mammoths


For my map, I wanted to highlight the differences in the world that we know and the world that woolly mammoths knew. The focus of the map is the northern hemisphere because this is where mammoths were known to live. The colors of the map show the different biomes in this area of the world, which I thought was useful because it shows how the world has changed and could relate these changes to woolly mammoths and their extinction. I thought that including where the mammoth steppe ranged was relevant, especially because the audience could see the environments they preferred. To create another connection between the two maps, I included some general areas where woolly mammoth remains have been found. Finally, larger cities were included because it is a major difference between the two times.


I chose to create a map that showcases the difference between the Pleistocene Epoch and present times because fairly recently there have been efforts to revive certain extinct species. With these scientific advancements comes a lot of debate on whether or not it’s ethical to do so. I wanted this map to focus on the environmental impact that reviving woolly mammoths specifically would entail. Those who support the revival of woolly mammoths argue that they could actually be good for the environment, but there’s a question of whether or not this decision is fair to them, seeing as one of the factors of their extinction was likely their inability to adapt to the changing world in their time. When I first heard of this topic a few years back, the environmental impact wasn’t a main focus, other than the fact that their ecosystem had adapted to the absence of mammoths. I think trying to go deeper into the subject brings more attention to one of the biggest factors to consider: how their presence will impact our world.


This map, despite only focusing on the northern hemisphere, is of a global scale. As mentioned before, one of the reasons people have been supporting the de-extinction of woolly mammoths is because they may be beneficial to combat the issue of climate change. Currently, permafrost in areas woolly mammoths once roamed has been melting and releasing greenhouse gases. The lack of large mammals in these areas has resulted in trees and shrubs to grow in what was once a grassland, absorbing more heat and quickening the pace at which permafrost melts. Woolly mammoths, some argue, will combat this issue by disrupting larger plants to maintain a grassy environment as well as trample the ground and make it harder for greenhouse gases to escape into the atmosphere. This map allows the audience to really see and understand the differences of the world at two different times, and could provide a new perspective to the subject of reversing extinction and possibly the issue of global warming. Even if the de-extinction of woolly mammoths isn’t brought to reality, perhaps the map could encourage people to have a better understanding of their impact on the world, in a time in which we are thriving and, unfortunately, contributing a great deal to climate change. As the Earth continues to change, many animals may struggle to adapt quickly enough and meet the same fate as woolly mammoths did. The map could hopefully lead to people to have a better understanding of the significance of our impact on the Earth and its inhabitants.


Rather than highlighting the impact of people on the environment, this map focuses more on the changing world and how animals are affected. In this case, one of the likely reasons that contributed to the extinction of woolly mammoths was their struggle to keep up with the rapidly changing Earth. Even though this map doesn’t directly relate humans to the issue of climate change, it could raise awareness to their actions and how their relationships with animals and, in turn, our world.


Bibliography


Amwassil. “The Mammoth Steppe - Revisited.” Ketogenic Forums, 17 Oct. 2019, www.ketogenicforums.com/t/the-mammoth-steppe-revisited/94136.


“THE WOOLLY MAMMOTH REVIVAL.” Revive & Restore, reviverestore.org/projects/woolly-mammoth/species/.


“Can Bringing Back Mammoths Help Stop Climate Change?” Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian Institution, 14 May 2018, www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/can-bringing-back-mammoths-stop-climate-change-180969072/.


Groeneveld, Emma. “Woolly Mammoth.” Ancient History Encyclopedia, Ancient History Encyclopedia, 4 Mar. 2021, www.ancient.eu/Woolly_Mammoth/.


Kazilek. “Boundless Biomes.” Kazilek, 19 July 2013, askabiologist.asu.edu/explore/biomes.

“Quaternary Extinction.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 5 Mar. 2021, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quaternary_extinction#/media/File:Last_glacial_vegetation_map.png.




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