This means war
(For background music to the following passage from Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything, which has provided sporadical, spermatophytical reading in the past week or two, see Skye Sweetnam's MySpace for a new song, "Bring It Back.")
Taxonomy is described sometimes as a science and sometimes as an art, but really it's a battleground. Even today there is more disorder in the system than most people realize.
[...]At the more workaday level of species, the possibilities for disagreement are even greater [than at the phylum level]. Whether a species of grass should be called Aegilops incurva, Aegilops incurvata, or Aegilops ovata may not be a matter that would stir many nonbotanists to passion, but it can be a source of very lively heat in the right quarters.
[...]Normally [the International Association for Plant Taxonomy's arbitration decisions on species names] are small matters of tidying up that attract little notice, but when they touch on beloved garden plants, as they sometimes do, shrieks of outrage inevitably follow. In the late 1980s the common chrysanthemum was banished (on apparently sound scientific principles) from the genus of the same name and relegated to the comparatively drab and undesirable world of the genus Dendranthema.
Chrysanthemum breeders are a proud and numerous lot, and they protested to the real if improbable-sounding Committee on Spermatophyta. ...Although the rules of nomenclature are supposed to be rigidly applied, botanists are not indifferent to sentiment, and in 1995 the decision was reversed.
[...]Disputes and reorderings of much the same type can be found in all the other realms of the living, so keeping an overall tally is not nearly as straightforward a matter as you might suppose. In consequence, the rather amazing fact is that we don't have the faintest idea -- "not even to the nearest order of magnitude," in the words of Edward O. Wilson -- of the number of things that live on our planet.
Eddyan rock taxonomy as an act of preservation/discovery of new species through rigorously mapped-out new, if off-kilter, nomenclature? Discuss!