In February of 2014, I shared a beautiful dream I had. My beautiful dream is for every plant and animal species on earth to have at least one human spokesperson, at least one human advocate, at least one human singer of that species. When I shared that dream, I had no idea whether this dream was possible or not. Between that time and now, I have encountered some numbers regarding this dream.
What species will you sing?
Question: How long has humanity been identifying species?
Answer: While the idea has been around for a long time, most people draw the dividing line with the publication of Systema Naturae by Carl Linnaeus (pictured above) in 1735. His system of kingdoms, orders, genera and species is used to this day, with some minor additions. This system has been in use for the past 280 years.
Question: How many species have been identified?
Answer: A. D. Chapman reported in 2009 that there are 1,900,000 identified species on earth. Some people claim that some of the species are duplicates. The State of Observed Species Report says 19,000 species were discovered in 2011. These numbers are for eukaryote species, organisms more complex than bacteria.
Question: How many species are there on earth?
Answer: The most current estimate is 8,700,000, plus or minus 1,300,000. The researchers made this estimate by observing the patterns of species within a genus, genera in a family, and so forth. If this estimate is true, then humanity has a long way to go in merely identifying the full complement of life on earth.
Let’s suppose the number of species is 10,000,000. The earth’s population is 7,137,000,000. That works out to 713 people for each and every species on earth. Some of these species already have advocates, like ducks and pheasants. Many of them do not. A. D. Chapman said about 10% of the 60,000 vertebrate species were threatened. Perhaps it would be a good thing to focus on those 6,000 species. There are over a million people in the world for each one of those species. If you’re thinking about advocating for one of those species, this might be a good time to start advocating. Which species will you sing?
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