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posted by martyb on Sunday December 20 2020, @12:33PM   Printer-friendly
from the woah-man-that's-heavyyy dept.

Human Made Materials Now Outweigh Earth's Entire Biomass

While the natural world continues to shrink, the 'anthropogenic mass' – the mass of all human-made materials created since the Industrial revolution, including houses, cars, roads, and aeroplanes – has grown. Indeed, the number of so-called technospecies has far surpassed the estimated 9 million biological species on the planet, according to a new groundbreaking study published on 10 December in the journal Nature.

[...] The new findings support recent calls to recognise a new epoch called the Anthropocene to account for the profound impacts of human activity on the Earth.

[...] At the beginning of the 20th century, the mass of human-produced objects was equal to about 3 per cent of the world's total biomass but in 2020, has reached about 1.1 teratonnes, exceeding overall global biomass. Moreover, this dramatic increase in human constructions has been accompanied by significant losses in biomass. Humanity has roughly halved the mass of plants since the first agricultural revolution, the authors say.

Journal Reference:
Emily Elhacham, Liad Ben-Uri, Jonathan Grozovski, et al. Global human-made mass exceeds all living biomass, Nature (DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-3010-5)

Where do we go from here?

See also: CNN and xkcd.


Original Submission

Related Stories

Geologists Reject Declaration of ‘Human Era’ in Earth’s Timeline 31 comments

Scientists argued that mankind had been reshaping the planet long before the 1950s:

A top panel of geologists has decided not to grant Anthropocene, or 'human age', its own distinct place in Earth's geological timeline after disagreeing over when exactly the era might have begun.

After 15 years of deliberation, a team of scientists made the case that humankind has so fundamentally altered the natural world that a new phase of Earth's existence – a new epoch – has already begun.

Soaring greenhouse gases, the spread of microplastics, decimation of other species, and fallout from nuclear tests – all were submitted as evidence that the world entered the Anthropocene in the mid-20th century.

But the proposal was rejected in a contentious vote that has been upheld by the International Union of Geological Sciences, the field's governing body said in a statement published on its website on March 21.

[...] Despite this, the Anthropocene would endure as a widely used term: "It will remain an invaluable descriptor of human impact on the Earth system," the union said.

In 2009 scientists began an enquiry that ultimately concluded that the Holocene epoch – which began 11,700 years ago as the last ice age ended – gave way to the Anthropocene around 1950.

They gathered a trove of evidence to show this, including traces of radioactive material found in the layered sediment of lakes, the global upheaval of plants and animals, and omnipresent "forever chemicals".

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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20 2020, @12:36PM (16 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20 2020, @12:36PM (#1089566)

    We moved iron, carbon and stuff out of the crust and into building-shaped formations.

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by acid andy on Sunday December 20 2020, @12:56PM (13 children)

      by acid andy (1683) on Sunday December 20 2020, @12:56PM (#1089568) Homepage Journal

      That's true but unless they all have wild roof gardens, it's displacing natural habitat, hence the comparison.

      --
      Consumerism is poison.
      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Runaway1956 on Sunday December 20 2020, @01:40PM (11 children)

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday December 20 2020, @01:40PM (#1089575) Journal

        Never figured out why we don't put sod on top of our buildings. A couple inches of soil, and a crop of short grass would reduce both heating and air conditioning requirements. Not exactly suitable for wood frame homes, but it will work perfectly on concrete roofs. Allow for drainage in the rainy season, and a little irrigation in the dry months, it looks like everybody wins.

        It would even be possible to do a little vegetable gardening in the same space!

        --
        ‘Never trust a man whose uncle was eaten by cannibals’
        • (Score: 2) by looorg on Sunday December 20 2020, @02:42PM

          by looorg (578) on Sunday December 20 2020, @02:42PM (#1089583)

          It used to be the norm, I guess it somehow fell out of fashion. Perhaps with improved roof tiles, and now solar roof tiles.

        • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20 2020, @03:07PM (3 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20 2020, @03:07PM (#1089589)

          The more soil you put on it, the better. You won't get completely stable temperatures, but you can moderate changes enough that little to no heating or cooling is required.
          https://builditsolar.com/Projects/Cooling/amplitude-vs-depth.gif [builditsolar.com]

          • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Sunday December 20 2020, @04:16PM (2 children)

            by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday December 20 2020, @04:16PM (#1089600) Journal

            The structural strength of your building will limit how much soil you can put on top of it. 4 or more feet of soil sounds good, but if the building won't hold it up, there's going to be a lot of trouble. Enough soil to support a crop of grass is your starting point. More is better, but consult your architect before shoveling a foot or more of dirt on your roof.

            --
            ‘Never trust a man whose uncle was eaten by cannibals’
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20 2020, @09:02PM (1 child)

              by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20 2020, @09:02PM (#1089695)

              Or you could just live in a cave. All the hard work's been done for you.

              • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Sunday December 20 2020, @10:42PM

                by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday December 20 2020, @10:42PM (#1089712) Journal

                I believe I could do that. There is a HUGE mine outside of Kansas City, Ks. I don't know how deep it is, or how big it is in area, but I have driven 18-wheelers down inside to warehouses located inside. Years ago, it always seemed dismal, because the lighting kinda sucked. Today, with LED lights, I could order a bunch of nice daylight bulbs, and plug them in. The dismal would be all-but-gone, and of course, once inside my own little home, it would be as cozy as cozy could ever get. I might spend just a little money on heating - it's a little cool down there year round. Never hot, never cold, just cool - mid 60's I guess.

                I have no idea how much it would cost me to lease the space for a nice little home.

                --
                ‘Never trust a man whose uncle was eaten by cannibals’
        • (Score: 1, Troll) by Tork on Monday December 21 2020, @01:21AM

          by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Monday December 21 2020, @01:21AM (#1089756)

          Never figured out why we don't put sod on top of our buildings.

          Capitalism.

          --
          🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
        • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Monday December 21 2020, @02:39AM (4 children)

          by Reziac (2489) on Monday December 21 2020, @02:39AM (#1089771) Homepage

          Couple inches of soil won't do it -- you need more like six inches to get decent roots on your grass and enough buffer that it doesn't dry out and die every hot and sunny afternoon. And by that point you've got a lot of weight on your roof (especially when it rains and gets thoroughly soaked). Not that it's a bad concept but not really suited as a replacement for a standard roof... would about double the weight even for a concrete roof. So you'd want to engineer it from the foundation up.

          Tho something like sheep fescue would make a dandy roof grass -- looks really nice, resistant to drought and heat, somewhat sheds water, never needs mowing.

          --
          And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
          • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Monday December 21 2020, @02:47AM (3 children)

            by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday December 21 2020, @02:47AM (#1089773) Journal

            So you'd want to engineer it from the foundation up.

            Yep, you nailed it there.

            And, I like your sheep fescue, too.

            --
            ‘Never trust a man whose uncle was eaten by cannibals’
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20 2020, @03:16PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20 2020, @03:16PM (#1089593)

        We should transform the deserts, make Las Vegas, Dubai, etc. into megalopolises.

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20 2020, @02:30PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20 2020, @02:30PM (#1089581)

      > and stuff

      TFA doesn't say what counts as "stuff" -- for example, is the weight of the wood in wooden houses counted?

      How about all the rocks moved around, into buildings, and also crushed for concrete and asphalt.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20 2020, @04:26PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20 2020, @04:26PM (#1089602)

        Does it include the clones living underground?

        https://i.redd.it/3j28e8qnzb661.jpg [i.redd.it]

  • (Score: 2) by oumuamua on Sunday December 20 2020, @03:06PM (5 children)

    by oumuamua (8401) on Sunday December 20 2020, @03:06PM (#1089588)

    Counting Crows - They paved paradise and put up a parking lot ...
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvtJPs8IDgU [youtube.com]
    Soon, you may indeed have to pay money to see trees in a museum

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20 2020, @03:12PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20 2020, @03:12PM (#1089592)

      We can look at forests with a VR headset.

    • (Score: 3, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20 2020, @03:16PM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20 2020, @03:16PM (#1089595)

      AKA - that song by Joni Mitchell.

      Kids these days...

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20 2020, @03:54PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 20 2020, @03:54PM (#1089597)

        Really, we have to spoon feed the kids these days, try this
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFB-d-8_bvY [youtube.com]
        Even with "my pipes are sort of going out" Joni's is worlds ahead of any cover.

        • (Score: 3, Informative) by Runaway1956 on Sunday December 20 2020, @06:02PM

          by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday December 20 2020, @06:02PM (#1089631) Journal

          "charged all the people a dollar and a half just to see them"

          Today, that would be $20 parking fee, go to the gate, $15 per adult, $7.50 for kids under 4 ft or under 12 years old, then pay a dollar and a half per head to get into each exhibit. Cotton candy $5.00, 8 oz soft drink $3.50, 12 oz soft drink $4.00, hot dogs $8.00, etc. Better plan on spending $150, and bring some reserve just in case.

          --
          ‘Never trust a man whose uncle was eaten by cannibals’
        • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Monday December 21 2020, @01:03PM

          by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Monday December 21 2020, @01:03PM (#1089874) Homepage Journal

          Don't know what you've got till it's gone.

          But also my versions:

          Don't know what you want until you've got it.

          or:

          Don't know what you want until you've got what you thought you wanted.

          -- hendrik

  • (Score: 1, Touché) by creimer_is_a_virgin on Sunday December 20 2020, @07:18PM (9 children)

    by creimer_is_a_virgin (13618) on Sunday December 20 2020, @07:18PM (#1089653)

    Sorry, I've been dieting and I recently went down to 450 pounds from 375 pounds. So far, so good!

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Tork on Monday December 21 2020, @01:24AM (8 children)

      by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Monday December 21 2020, @01:24AM (#1089758)
      Oh geez. Just how bad was the argument you lost to him?
      --
      🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
      • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by creimer_is_a_virgin on Monday December 21 2020, @03:20AM (7 children)

        by creimer_is_a_virgin (13618) on Monday December 21 2020, @03:20AM (#1089777)

        LOL the man lost his argument with life! Bahahahaaa!!! Who are you and why are you so funny?

        • (Score: 2) by Tork on Monday December 21 2020, @08:23PM (6 children)

          by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Monday December 21 2020, @08:23PM (#1090012)
          I know that the energy you're expending on this project far exceeds what a reasonable person would spend on a person who 'lost an argument with life'. You either lost an argument to him or he's been intimate with someone you're attracted to.
          --
          🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
          • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by creimer_is_a_virgin on Monday December 21 2020, @11:54PM (5 children)

            by creimer_is_a_virgin (13618) on Monday December 21 2020, @11:54PM (#1090073)

            Yes, of course, those are the only two possibilities.

            We can rule out being intimate since he proudly boasts of his virginity. As a matter of fact, my religion demands I worship human male virgins.
            We can also rule out losing an argument. The man is incapable of framing an honest argument and is far more interested in disingenuous twists of phrase to justify himself.

            As far as energy expended, so far it is far less energy than making one dumb YouTube video no one watches.

            I'm ahead in this game right now. And let me tell you, it's hilarious thinking about the Virginal One screaming and squirming and hitting himself in autistic rage.

            He must be PISSED that he can't get ProtonMail to grant his every whim.

            Why he thinks he can just act any way he wants with no repercussions is baffling. EVERYONE WANTS TO HELP HIM, but he flat-out refuses any help.

            In his mind, he is perfect.
            And therein lies the humor.

            • (Score: 2) by Tork on Tuesday December 22 2020, @02:01AM (4 children)

              by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 22 2020, @02:01AM (#1090091)
              lol! so was it about politics? religion maybe? what'd you two have such an energetic falling out about?
              --
              🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
              • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by creimer_is_a_virgin on Tuesday December 22 2020, @02:13AM (3 children)

                by creimer_is_a_virgin (13618) on Tuesday December 22 2020, @02:13AM (#1090097)

                How adorable. You think it's only two. It's the majority of Slashdot users who are fed up with creimer's antics since about four years now.

                He *is* legit mentally ill, but there's simply no way to force him to get the help he needs.

                He's about half as funny as Crawford was on K5. If you remember that.

                • (Score: 2) by Tork on Tuesday December 22 2020, @03:59PM (2 children)

                  by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 22 2020, @03:59PM (#1090279)
                  Hmm... no... I'm afraid your approach is a lil too familiar to many guys on this site. You're not trying to get our attention, you're trying to get his!
                  --
                  🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
                  • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by creimer_is_a_virgin on Tuesday December 22 2020, @05:09PM (1 child)

                    by creimer_is_a_virgin (13618) on Tuesday December 22 2020, @05:09PM (#1090308)

                    Says the man with "Slashdolt Logic: "23 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny."" as his sig.

                    Whose attention are you trying to get with that?

                    Let me clue you in: creimer's entire posting history on Slashdot is nothing but old references and repetitive posts from a text file he has.

                    Thing is, I actually *like* the guy. He's clearly had a rough start and a terrible childhood. He has something to say. But he's also a hilarious unselfaware dolt that is endlessly amusing.

                    For example, his Tweet about how ProtonMail took his abuse request seriously... I have a reply from ProtonMail that says my email address is quite safe.

                    I'm sure the big doof spent all Sunday afternoon yelling at the wall while hitting himself in autistic rage. He probably tried to commit suicide by throwing himself in front of traffic but he's so massive he moves so slowly that the car had time to brake.

                    Then he Tweets that it was an accident. Riiiight.

                    • (Score: 2) by Tork on Tuesday December 22 2020, @09:39PM

                      by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 22 2020, @09:39PM (#1090401)
                      Did he reject your Facebook friend request?
                      --
                      🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
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