First sports stadiums and bridges, and now the natural world?

By Dogtown Commoner | Posted at 8:11 am, September 14th, 2007 | Topic: environment, science, economics

The Washington Post has an article on a recent development in scientific taxonomy — selling naming rights to newly discovered species:

Searching for new ways to raise money for environmental causes, scientists and conservationists are increasingly opting to sell naming rights to the highest bidder. But the trend — which is reshaping the way researchers name everything from monkeys to beetles — has sparked a fierce debate over the future of taxonomy, as well as conservation itself.

The practice isn’t entirely new:

The rules say nothing about selling naming rights. So after Mark Erdmann, a senior adviser for Conservation International’s Indonesia marine program, and consultant Gerald Allen discovered two new species of sharks last year, Erdmann thought, why not auction off the right to name the creatures they had found?

In the 18th and 19th centuries, explorers frequently named the flora and fauna they found after their financial backers. Erdmann reasoned he was simply updating the tradition by bestowing that honor on anyone willing to donate funds to help a species survive.

Will all newborn babies soon have corporate sponsorship too? I can just imagine the birth announcements: “John and Sally Palmer and Microsoft are proud to announce the birth of their daughter, Windows Vista Palmer. She was born September 14th, 2007 in Oakland, CA and weighed 7 pounds 4 ounces.”