Human-made objects already weigh more than all the biomass on Earth

biomass on Earth

In less than 100 years, all human creations have exceeded the total weight of living organisms on Earth.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the total population of human beings - and all the creations developed so far - did not exceed 3% of the total mass of life on planet Earth. However, a new study published by the scientific journal Nature reveals that this number has risen to alarming limits.

Year after year, the production of human artifacts grows. Added to the totality of living human beings in the world, the figure stands at 30 gigatons. This translates to 30 billion metric tons, which already exceeds the biomass of the entire planet. What consequences could this have on life? Science suggests a plausible scenario.

What is biomass?

Biomass is defined as the totality of living organisms. For this reason, it includes the vegetation, animals, and microbes existing on the planet. However, today we can distinguish three different types:

Natural biomass. It is the one that occurs in nature on its own.

Residual biomass. They are organic waste that comes from human activities.

Produced biomass. It refers to energy crops that are intended to be used at an energy level.

For this reason, biomass has been used as an alternative for the energy industry, since it is a cleaner way than fossil fuels. In addition to being renewable, it is remarkably versatile, cheap, and profitable today. Today it is possible to apply it in industry, in offices, and in private homes to supply them with electrical energy.

What awaits us in the coming years?

biomass on Earth 1

Understanding biomass as the totality of living organisms on the planet, the fact that human production exceeds their mass has alarmed the scientific community. At the very least, this could bring a major imbalance to existing ecosystems, as has been seen in recent years. Environmental scientist Emily Elhacham of Israel's Weizmann Institute of Sciences explains the following:


According to the study conducted by Elhacham, in just 20 more years the mass generated by human beings will go from weighing slightly more than the total biomass to almost triple it. To a large extent, this is due to indiscriminate urbanization, due to the weight of construction materials.

The population increases and the problem also

biomass on Earth 2

This notable increase in the anthropogenic mass is closely linked to the climatic emergency that we are experiencing today. In addition to the fact that the production of these materials consumes a lot of energy, they generate a high rate of contamination of soils and aquifers, as well as harmful emissions to the atmosphere.

As the human population grows, more infrastructure is needed to house new generations. With this, the need for means of transport and consumption in general also increases. For this reason, Elhacham categorically suggests responsible consumption, as well as the reduction of single-use plastics.

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