Changing Our Species Name


Swedish scientist Carl Linnaeus [1707 – 1778], known as the “father of modern taxonomy,” is the individual who can be credited with giving our species the name Homo sapiens.  The “sapiens” in that species name indicates that we:

are highly intelligent primates that have become the dominant species on Earth.

Actually, however, “sapiens” is “a Latin word meaning wise;” and Yuval Noah Harari must believe that “wise” is an appropriate descriptor of our species—for why else would he title a book Sapiens:  A Brief History of Humankind (2015)?!

As a USan[1], however, I must take issue with the claim that Homo sapiens is an appropriate name for this country’s public, at least.  Given that in 2016 the public in this country elected an individual, as President, who is incompetent, a liar, a psychiatric case,[2] among other “qualities” (!), it’s difficult for me to believe that the public of this county is either intelligent or wise!

As further proof of these “lacks” I would single out our response to the global warming threat now facing not only our citizens, but all humans!  About a year ago a report, signed (to date) by “13,658 [scientists] from 156 countries,” stated, for example, that:

planet Earth is facing a climate emergency.

An immense increase of scale in endeavors to conserve our biosphere is needed to avoid untold suffering due to the climate crisis (IPCC 2018).

The climate crisis is closely linked to excessive consumption of the wealthy lifestyle.  The most affluent countries are mainly responsible for the historical GHG emissions and generally have the greatest per capita emissions (table S1).

Economic and population growth are among the most important drivers of increases in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion (Pachauri et al. 2014, Bongaarts and O’Neill 2018); therefore, we need bold and drastic transformations regarding economic and population policies.


Has this report caught the attention of our PresidentNeedless to say:

Pursuing an unrelenting fossil fuel agenda, Trump has scaled back or eliminated over 150 environment measures, expanded Arctic drilling, and denied climate science.

Our President evidently has a death wish!  Would that it were only for himself, not our entire species!

Trump’s moving us in the wrong direction is not the only reason that I fear for our future as a species, however:

In addition to “media silence” and “media denial” about global warming—so that our public is both uninformed and misinformed about the global warming threat—there’s what I regard as the most important reason to doubt that our species won’t soon be joining the 1,000,000 other species likely to go extinct soon:  The fact that our species has been on a downward course since the Neolithic Revolution (of about 12,000 years ago)!  As I argue that point in my History is Against Our Species!, I won’t repeat my argument here.

I’ll only say that it took a young “Yalie” named Eugene Linden—who published Affluence and Discontent: The Anatomy of Consumer Societies in 1979, at the “ripe old age of 32,” to get me to think of that possibility.  Linden had concluded his book this way (p. 178):

The consumer society continues to roll along despite the diminishing luster of its myths.  What this suggests is that we will continue on our present [downward!] course, and that the probability of one or another of our proposed [earlier in the book] disasters will increase until some small event [the election of sadopopulist Donald Trump as President?!] triggers the apocalypse of the consumer society.

When I read Linden’s book 40 years ago, I found it interesting—because of its iconoclasm.  Since then—and as my interest in, and knowledge about, global warming have increased—I have come to regard Linden’s conclusion as remarkably prescient!  Although I had majored in History as an undergraduate, reading Linden caused me to think differently about history; and as I had been exposed to the Discrepancy concept just before reading Linden’s book, that concept gave me a way to explain history, as presented by Linden.

I can now expand on my statement above that “Trump’s moving us in the wrong direction is not the only reason that I fear for our future as a species”:

If there is a trend in human history—and regardless if that trend is upward or downward—the suggestion is that “forces” are “operating” that are causing the trend:

  1. Over which we have no control.
  2. And which we will never even be able, ever, to identify!
  3. So that the most that we will be able to do is to recognize that there is a trend.

Now if we do that and also recognize (with Linden) that the trend is downward, that recognition should alert us to a need to do what we can to change the trend.  Here’s the problem:  Our “leaders”—both in the governmental and corporate worlds—have not done so!

That’s why I see no reason to believe that we won’t be joining the 1,000,000 species “slated” to go extinct soon, during this period of “the sixth extinction”!

Because of that failure, I propose that we change our species name to Homo stultus (“stultus” meaningfoolish, fatuous, stupid, ill-considered”)!

[1]  A USan is a resident of the United States; USans are Americans, of course—but so are Canadians, Mexicans, Brazilians, Costa Ricans, etc., etc.!

[2]  A family member confirms this!

Alton C. Thompson is an independent writer



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