Writers at The Wall Street Journal and Economist have opened another front in the Conservative War on Science, claiming that biologists are "inflating" subspecies into full-fledged species so as to increase:
...the number of rare species increases, boosting animal-conservation claims. At the same time, having a greater number of species boosts the chances that a habitat can pursue a legal designation as a protected area.
I'm still a bit too relaxed from vacationing to write about this issue with the necessary rigor, but Cryptomundo's Lauren Coleman gives what I think is a terrific response. Here is the whole thing, and here is a taste of it:
What is occurring is a classic theoretical battle between lumpers and splitters, not a fight of conservationists vs non-conservationists, not a war of Greens vs non-Greens, although “Species Inflation May Infect Over-Eager Conservationists” appears eager to convince you of that. The splitters are making their points lately, with more scientific evidence for a diversity of species.
The advent of DNA technology has produced enormous advancements in genetic level analysis of subspecies into species, because the markers are being newly discovered and becoming clearer every day. On a simplistic plane, this conservative media attack sounds like the typical “everything new is bad” argument.
Be sure to read the comments.