Manmade mass now outweighs life on Earth

PARIS (AFP) – For the first time in history manmade materials now likely outweigh all life on Earth, scientists said on Wednesday in research detailing the “crossover point” at which humanity’s footprint is heavier than that of the natural world.

The weight of roads, buildings and other constructed or manufactured materials is doubling roughly every 20 years, and authors of the research said it currently weighed 1.1 teratonnes. As mankind has ramped up its insatiable consumption of natural resources, the weight of living biomass – trees, plants and animals – has halved since the agricultural revolution to stand at just one teratonne currently, the study found.

Estimating changes in global biomass and manmade mass since 1990, the research showed that the mass of human-produced objects stood at just three per cent of the weight of biomass at the start of the 20th Century.

But since the post-World War II global production boom, manufacturing has surged to the extent that humans now produce the equivalent of the weight of every person on Earth every week on average.

This year likely marked the moment when manmade mass tipped higher than biomass, according to the study published in Nature.