Human made materials now outweigh Earth’s entire biomass

For centuries, humankind has been shaping the world around it, feeding off resources from a seemingly never ending natural world. But we all know that this is not the case. Ranging from climate change to habitat destruction, human borne interference has taken a heavy toll on earth While we always emphasize on the effect our choices have made , we seldom take into account the actual weight of our footprint.

Upon calculating human made mass from 1900 to the present day found that human made mass or in other words, anthropogenic mass has been increasing exponentially, doubling about every 20 years, and has reached a total of 30 Gigatons per year. This value is equivalent to each person producing their own body weight’s worth of mass per week. This inference was found using data on the global stock and flow of materials in six categories: concrete, aggregates, brick, asphalt, metals, and other (such as plastic). They then compared these values against the global biomass, the total global mass of biological organism

In the year 1900 , this man made mass accounted for only 3% of the total biomass on the planet in 2020, the mass of these materials has overtaken that of all biological organisms, reaching a total of 1.1 teratonnes. It should be noted that although anthropogenic mass has been increasing at an increasingly alarming rate, the global biomass has remained largely stable, with plants accounting for a majority of it. If this growth trend continues, it is predicted that this mass will be thrice of the global biomass by the year 2040.The scientists’ results showed that most anthropogenic mass was made up of building materials, and at 1100 gigatonnes, buildings and infrastructure exceeded the mass of all tree and shrubs, which measured at 900 giga tonnes. On the other hand, plastic made up less than 1% of the mass of infrastructure, yet still doubled the mass of all animals on Earth.

If we don’t put some constraint on our ways, human made mass will exceed 40 terratonnes by 2040.In the next 20 years, we will get as much waste as from the last 110 years together We can no longer deny our central role in the natural world . The face of Earth in the 21st century is affected in an unprecedented manner by the activities of humanity and the production and accumulation of human-made objects We are already a major player and with that comes a very important shared responsibility

Adwitya Sinha
Author: Adwitya Sinha

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