It is an undeniable fact that the vast majority of Earth’s ecosystems (pretty much everywhere outside of Sub-Saharan Africa, and even there things are pretty terrible) have been irrevocably damaged by the arrival of humans during a time of dramatic climate change tens of thousands of years ago. The Americas, Europe, Asia, even Australia - all are missing huge chunks of their ecosystems due to the disappearance of the megafauna.
For example, there are many plants - avocados, joshua trees, etc - which relied on giant ground sloths to eat and digest their large fruits/etch their touch seeds with their stomach acids. With these creatures gone, these plants have a much harder time reproducing. Apparently scientists at Joshua Tree National Park think climate change may cause up to 90% of the area the trees are in to no longer be hospitable to the growth of new trees. Existing trees may love on for hundreds of years more, but no new saplings means the species will be fated to slowly decline to nothing. And without the ground sloths they once relied on for seed dispersal, the trees won’t be able to colonize new habitats that are more friendly to them.
20,000 years ago almost every habitat on Earth had a diverse array of megafaunal mammals, similar to sub-Saharan Africa today. And of course the numbers of these animals are dwindling rapidly even in Africa. And this is catastrophic for the local ecologies. I don’t think any part of that is in question. Yes, as the article notes, the mammoth step was an important biome that completely disappeared along with its titular species.
Does that mean that cloning the mammoth is the solution, though? I tend to think not, or at least, there are many more low hanging fruits we could pick first.
Yes, mammoths are important, but so was the rest of the ecosystem. Bison, horses, camels, deer, elk, and wild cattle all roamed across the steppe at the same time, and these are animals that still exist, either in the wild or as domestic descendants. Their herds were stalked by wolves, big cats, and bears. Let’s start by reintroducing those species, and making farmers and cattle ranchers work around nature rather than the other way around.
Once that’s done, if our reconstructed ecology is still hurting for the lack of a keystone elephant species, we can combine genetic engineering and breeding programs to reconstruct wooly elephants and rhinos for cold weather.