published on 8 February 2021 in earth

Anthropogenic mass exceeds biomass. Study published in Nature.

A recent study conducted by a group of researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel has estimated that the “anthropogenic mass” present on the planet has now exceeded the biomass, that is, all living organisms, whether plants or animals, present on Earth. By “anthropogenic mass”, the researchers mean “the mass of inanimate, solid objects made by humans and not yet demolished or put out of service.” In order to quantify it, the researchers used a very reliable and internationally recognised method, also used by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) and the European Union. For biomass, on the other hand, the researchers synthesised the estimates generated by different methodologies: inventories, modelling, remote sensing.

Credits: Nature

For a century, the anthropogenic mass has been doubling on average every twenty years: just think that for each living human being, the mass of objects produced more than exceeds their own body weight. Every year, human output exceeds 30 billion tons, mostly from buildings and roads. At this rate of production, in 2020 (with a margin of error of six years) the quantity of anthropogenic mass would surpass that of the biomass. “The Earth is exactly at the crossover point between the evolutionary curves of the two masses,” the study’s authors stated. The study is available in the scientific journal Nature, published in December 2020.

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