Skip to main content

Accumulation of Anthropogenic Mass on Earth

While the whole mass of humans is just about 0.01 percent of global biomass and civilization had already had a significant and various impact on it by three thousand years ago. Since the first agricultural revolution, humankind has about halved the mass of plants, from nearly two teratonnes down to the modern value of roughly one teratonnes.

While contemporary agriculture uses an expanding land territory for planting crops, the whole mass of domesticated crops (~0.01 teratonnes) is considerably surpassed by the loss of plant mass resulting from deforestation, forest administration, and other land-use transitions. Other human activities, including livestock farming, hunting, and fishing, have also greatly influenced the masses of various other taxa. An up-to-date study of Earth's remaining living biomass has determined that, on a mass basis, plants compose the enormous majority (approximately 90%), accompanied by animals, fungi, bacteria, fungi, archaea, and protists. 

The graph below shows the biomass distribution on Earth, according to Yinon M. Bar-On, Rob Phillips, and Ron Milo.

Estimating global biomass

Reddit user kiwi2703 made a stunning visualization of how that would look like in the middle of Central Park in New York City. If you blended all 7.9 billion people on our planet into a fine goo (density of a human = 985 kg/m3, average human body mass = 62 kg), you would end up with a sphere of human goo just under 1  kilometer (0.62 miles) wide.

Humanity biomass

Behind biomass, as the global impact of humanity arouses, it is becoming ever more critical to quantitatively evaluate and monitor the material flows of our socioeconomic system, also acknowledged as the socioeconomic metabolism.

According to research published in Nature, the human-made mass or "anthropogenic mass" (mass embedded in inanimate solid objects made by humans) comprises nearly 1.1 teratonnes.

Over the past 100 years, the human-made mass has risen rapidly - duplicating in a Moore-law-like mode approximately every 20 years - opposite to total biomass, which hasn't changed considerably. The accumulation of anthropogenic mass has now touched 30 gigatons per year, based on the average for the past five years.  

The collective anthropogenic mass has gone from 3 percent of the world's biomass in 1900 to be on a level with it today.

Nowadays, on average, anthropogenic mass equivalent to more than their body weight is produced every week for each human globally.

Below is excellent visualization created by the VisualCapitalist team.

Human-Made Mass on Earth

In 2020, the amount of anthropogenic mass surpassed for the first time the dry weight of all life on our planet (microorganisms, fungi, plants, animals, including homo sapiens).

To build all human-made things (houses, buildings, roads,  coffee mugs, computers, phones, ext) demands billions of tons of metals and minerals, wood, farm products, and fossil fuels.

Each year, we extricate almost 90 billion tons of raw materials from the Earth's bowels. A single phone, for instance, can carry about 80 percent of the stable elements on Mendeleev's periodic table.

The accumulation rate for human-made mass has now touched 30 gigatons (30 billion metric tons) per year.

At the top of the list of the most used materials is concrete (2nd most used substance after water).

Bricks and aggregate materials (sand, gravel, ext) also serve a big part of the anthropogenic mass.

Human-Made Mass

Although small corresponded to other materials, the mass of plastic we have created is larger than the overall mass of all terrestrial and marine animal organisms combined.

Plastic on our planet

As the growth rate of anthropogenic mass accelerates, it could become triple the total quantity of global living biomass by 2040.

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.


Popular posts from this blog

Find cities with similar climate

This map has been created using The Global environmental stratification. The Global environmental stratification (GEnS), based on statistical clustering of bioclimate data (WorldClim). GEnS, consists of 125 strata, which have been aggregated into 18 global environmental zones (labeled A to R) based on the dendrogram. Interactive map >> Via Related posts: -  Find cities with similar climate 2050 -  How global warming will impact 6000+ cities around the world?

Moose population in North America

The moose ( Alces alces ) is the largest member of the deer family, characterized by its massive size, long legs, and distinctive broad, palmate antlers found in males. They have a dark brown or black coat and a humped shoulder. Moose are primarily found in the boreal and mixed deciduous forests of North America, Europe, and Asia. They are solitary animals, often found near bodies of water, and are herbivores that feed on leaves, bark, twigs, and aquatic vegetation. Despite their size, moose are strong swimmers and can run up to 35 miles per hour. The moose population in North America is shrinking swiftly. This decrease has been correlated to the opening of roadways and landscapes into this animal's north range.   In North America, the moose range includes almost all of Canada and Alaska, the northern part of New England and New York, the upper Rocky Mountains, northern Minnesota and Wisconsin, Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and Isle Royale.    In 2014-2015, the North American moo

Map of Fox Species Distribution

Foxes are small to medium-sized members of the Canidae family, which also includes wolves, dogs, and other related animals. There are about 37 species of foxes distributed around the world, and they inhabit a wide range of environments, from forests and grasslands to deserts and urban areas. Below is the map of fox species distribution  created by Reddit user isaacSW Here are some of the most well-known fox species and their distribution: Red Fox ( Vulpes vulpes ): The red fox is one of the most widely distributed fox species and is found in North America, Europe, Asia, and parts of North Africa. They are adaptable and can live in a variety of habitats, including forests, grasslands, and urban areas. Arctic Fox ( Vulpes lagopus ): The Arctic fox is found in the Arctic regions of North America, Europe, and Asia. They have adaptations that help them survive in cold climates, such as a thick coat that changes color with the seasons. Gray Fox ( Urocyon cinereoargenteus ): The gray fox