To complement its efforts to conserve nature in the wild, the Convention on Biological Diversity should develop a comprehensive and adequately funded global effort to preserve intact genomes and viable cells for every known species and for new species as they are discovered. Super-cold freezing is the current method of choice, from a whole rhino skin to a bacterium.
Freezing tissue costs $200–300 per species, with negligible maintenance costs. Preserving material from all the roughly 1.8 million known species would cost about $540 million. The United States spends more than $1 billion every four days on the war in Afghanistan. So less than $1 billion to preserve the DNA of all known species on Earth, with whom we share billions of years of evolutionary history, seems like good value.
[The resignation of assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs Wess Mitchell] is surprising news, which seems to have caught everyone off guard. He doesn’t appear to have shared this news with his ambassadors, who were in Washington last week for a global chiefs of mission conference. His deputy is also slated to retire soon, which raises question of near term leadership on European policy at a time of challenges there.
[Wess] Mitchell was a strong supporter of NATO, particularly in Eastern Europe where he will be sorely missed. His departure comes follows the resignation of senior Pentagon officials – Robert Karem and Tom Goffus – working on NATO along with Secretary Mattis. Without this pro-alliance caucus, NATO is now more vulnerable than at any time since the beginning of the Trump administration.