Tipping point? Humanity’s stuff now weighs more than all living things

Our shortcomings have always inspired us among distant ancestors, even among our ancestors. Neither the speed and power to hunt large prey to tear flesh, nor the sharp teeth and claws, we reformed spears, flint knives, scrapers. Losing a thick Pilate, we took the fur of other animals. As the snow fell, we prepared more means of survival and comfort – stone dwellings, plows, wheeled vehicles. All these inventions allowed small matters of civilization to fight the seemingly endless natural forest.

The idea of ​​a natural world that sustained humanity and its creations for a long time, even in modern times – only to run, until recently, in the concern that the climate was changing, and species through our actions She was dying from How can this happen, with us so small and nature so big?

Now in a new study Nature A team of scientists from the Weisman Institute in Israel extended that view. Our creations have now – in fact, only this year, – attained the same mass of all living organisms on Earth. Human enterprise is growing rapidly, too, while nature keeps shrinking. The science-fiction landscape of an engineered planet is already here.

This seems a simple comparison, and yet in practice it is difficult. But this team has practice in dealing with such impossible challenges. A few years ago he worked on the first part of the equation Mass of all life on earth – Which includes all the sea fishes, germs in the soil, trees on land, birds in the air, and more. Now the weight of the Earth’s biosphere is slightly less than 1.2 trillion tons (not of dry mass, not counting water), making the most of trees on land. It was something like that before humans started clearing the forests – and it is still decreasing.

Trunk of two big trees in a forest