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Intended Consequences arrives at TED Monterey

Watch Ryan Phelan’s TED talk: The Intended Consequences of Helping Nature Thrive

After more than a decade working in conservation, Ryan Phelan makes the case that the fear of unintended consequences often puts the brakes on innovation, especially when it comes to conservation. And inaction all too often leads to extinction. “Intended Consequences,” provides a deliberate counterweight. This new language underlines what conservation interventions can accomplish if uncertainty is acknowledged and innovation is embraced.

Ryan sets the stage for the unparalleled opportunities that biotechnology brings to help solve the current biodiversity crisis with stories about the cloned black-footed ferret, the cloned Przewalski’s horse, the blight-tolerant American chestnut, and even the potential for engineering more resilient corals. “Intended Consequences” advocates for keeping an eye on the benefits for biodiversity, and working toward a future we want.


“Elizabeth Ann is a new hope for the future of her species, a chance for lost genetic diversity to be restored. She was born for this intended consequence.”

Learn more about Elizabeth Ann

“Kurt’s genes are all wild horse. This is called cross-species cloning and it’s a breakthrough for conservation.”

Learn more about Kurt

“Innovative scientists are already developing new techniques to cryopreserve live coral fragments and building artificial reefs.”

Learn more about the Advanced Coral Toolkit

Palumbi Lab running experiments with coral fragments, Stanford University

“Over the past 125 years, across the US, over 1,000 animal and plant species have been introduced and reintroduced — without causing environmental harm.”

Read the paper

“Genetically modified American chestnut trees will enable this species to be restored to its former majesty — the first real chance for restoration in 100 years.”

Read the paper

So the next time you hear about some wild new idea — we hope you will think FIRST about the intended consequences.