Summary: Estimates on the total mass of human-made material suggest 2020 is the year we overtake the combined dry weight of every living thing on Earth.
Original author and publication date: Mike McRae – December 10, 2020
Futurizonte Editor’s Note: We have dehumanized the planet and now we can prove it.
From the article:
All of the Amazon’s splendid greenery. Every fish in the Pacific. Every microbe underfoot. Every elephant on the plains, every flower, fungus, and fruit-fly in the fields, no longer outweighs the sheer amount of stuff humans have made.
Estimates on the total mass of human-made material suggest 2020 is the year we overtake the combined dry weight of every living thing on Earth.Tweet
Go back to a time before humans first took to ploughing fields and tending livestock, and you’d find our planet was coated in a biosphere that weighed around 2 x 10^12 tonnes.
Thanks in no small part to our habit of farming, mining, and building highways where forests once grew, this figure has now halved.
According to a small team of environmental researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, the mass of items constructed by humans – everything from skyscrapers to buttons – has grown so much, this year could be the point when biomass and mass production match up.
The exact timing of this landmark event depends on how we define the exact point a chunk of rock or drop of crude oil changes from natural resource to manufactured item.
But given we’re currently rearranging roughly 30 gigatonnes of nature into anything from IKEA bookcases to luxury apartments each year (a rate that’s been doubling every 20 years since the early 1900s), such fuzziness will be arbitrary soon enough.
The researchers draw our attention to this depressing moment in history as a symbol of our growing dominance over the planet.
“Beyond biomass, as the global effect of humanity accelerates, it is becoming ever more imperative to quantitatively assess and monitor the material flows of our socioeconomic system, also known as the socio-economic metabolism,” the researchers write in their report.