It may seem like the world is jam packed full of people, but we are insignificant in terms of the total amount of life here on Earth.
An eye-opening study shows just how insignificant mankind is on Planet Earth, at least in terms of the total amount of life forms. Although there are billions of human beings today, we make up just one ten-thousandth of all life on Earth based on the dry weight of the carbon that makes up living thigns that we call the biomass.
Not surprisingly, plants make up the lion’s share of the Earth’s biomass, and they outweigh people 7,500 to 1, making up 80 percent of all biomass. The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Next in line is bacteria, which makes up 13 percent of biomass. Fungi makes up 2 percent.
Despite humans small biomass footprint, they’ve had a huge impact on that biomass, slashing the total weight of plants in half and wild animals by 85 percent, according to the study.
“Researchers report a census of biomass on Earth,” reads a statement from the journal. “The global distribution of biomass is a key property of the biosphere, but a quantitative account of global biomass for all taxa of life is lacking. Ron Milo and colleagues compiled a global biomass census based on hundreds of studies from recent decades, combining existing estimates with newly generated estimates for taxa for which previous estimates did not exist.
“The census yielded a total biomass of 550 gigatons of carbon (Gt C). Approximately 450 Gt C, or 80% of the biomass, was composed of plants, and another 70 Gt C, or 15% of the biomass, was composed of bacteria. Land biomass was about two orders of magnitude greater than marine biomass. Nearly all plant biomass was on land, whereas most animal biomass was in the oceans, and most bacterial and archaeal biomass was in deep subsurface environments, such as aquifers and beneath the seafloor. In the oceans, biomass of consumers exceeded that of producers, and vice versa on land. The total biomass of humans and livestock exceeded that of wild mammals by an order of magnitude. Comparison of the census with historical biomass estimates suggests that human activities have led to significant reductions in wild mammal, fish, and plant biomass, according to the authors.”
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