Human Race has destroyed over 80% of life despite constituting just 0.01%

Human Race has destroyed over 80% of life despite constituting just 0.01%

Humanity has brought death to most of the life on Earth even though other forms of life supersede us massively.

Human activity is causing adverse impacts on our surroundings. The depletion of ozone layer is a common example in this regard. Harmful chemicals like Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) are the major cause behind that and a continuous increment in their levels, following the ever-increasing trend of man-made pollution, is posing serious threats to this world. Humans have proved themselves as extremely dangerous for this planet as they wiped away 83% of wild animals and half of the plants from the face of Earth. A recent study showed the destructive abilities of mankind as we are a mere 0.01% of total life on this planet yet we accounted for the death of the majority of the masses around us.

This research marked the 1st comprehensive estimate of all living biomass of every living creature in this world. It was a complete shock for Ron Milo, the lead author of the study who is a Professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, as he found nothing conclusive in this domain. He expressed his feelings by saying,

I was shocked to find there wasn’t already a comprehensive, holistic estimate of all the different components of biomass.

The team of Milo worked extremely hard, for three years, in order to extract all the scientific literature on Earth’s biomass. All their efforts resulted in a detailed estimate where the mass of all the kingdoms of life is identified. It ended a handful of assumptions as the stats are simply astonishing.

Plants are clear winners in this race as they represent 82% of all the living matter on our planet. Bacteria stood second in this race as they make 13% of everything we have on Earth. All other living creatures including animals, birds, insects, and fungi constitute the remaining 5% of the Earth’s biomass. Another surprising yet interesting figure that came forward is that only 1% of life exists beneath the waves of the oceans. This study also showed that despite all the dominance, the representation of humans is quite negligible. Milo explained that to the world as he said,

I would hope this gives people a perspective on the very dominant role that humanity now plays on Earth. It is definitely striking, our disproportionate place on Earth.

Milo and his fellow researchers provided a comparison in terms of the carbon content as the quantity of water varies in different animals, plants, and other forms of life. According to their research, the total biomass of the Earth is 550 Giga-tons of Carbon (Gt C). As discussed above, plants contribute the majority of that as they have a biomass of nearly 450 Gt C. Out of the remaining 100 Gt C, sub-surface bacteria accounts for 70 Gt C. Next in the list is fungi which have an overall biomass of 12 Gt C. It is six times more abundant than animal life as all kinds of animals make a mere 2 Gt C. The representation of humans (about 0.06 Gt C) is so small that it only takes a tiny fraction of this trivial quantity. Despite that, we literally control the entire landscape of animals.

The study provided us with an interesting and informative stat which shows that the quantity of livestock (0.1 Gt C) is much more than the wild animals (0.007 Gt C). Similarly, the biomass of domesticated poultry is three times more than wild animals. This shows how well humans are driving the life on this planet. Milo discussed these trends in the following words:

When I do a puzzle with my daughters, there is usually an elephant next to a giraffe next to a rhino. But if I was trying to give them a more realistic sense of the world, it would be a cow next to a cow next to a cow and then a chicken.”  

The researchers agree to the fact that natural landscape was not always like that but it is difficult for them to predict the pre-human biomass of the animals. Having said that, they are pretty sure that we have killed a lot of life on this planet and this has had a massive effect on the overall biosphere as suggested by the mass extinction we experience these days.

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