Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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Human-made stuff now outweighs every living thing on Earth

ScienceAlert reports:

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.

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. [Continue reading…]

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