Looking for a headline that says it all? Humanity Has Killed 83% of All Wild Mammals and Half of All Plants: Study. That study being The biomass distribution on Earth. Confronting these annihilation estimates summons Friedrich Nietzsche’s famous: “And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.”
“The weight of all 7.6 billion humans makes up just 0.01% of all biomass on Earth … Bacteria, by comparison, make up 13%, plants account for 83%, and all other forms of life make up 5% of the total weight.” And yet – over all human history – we’ve managed this biomassive annihilation. As well as wiping out wildlife, we’ve also unbalanced what remains. “Of the birds left in the world, 70% are poultry chickens and other farmed birds. And of the mammals left in the world, 60% are livestock … a mere 4% are wild.”
The study estimates that all life on Earth contains about 550 gigatonnes of carbon. In one of those striking but meaningless coincidences, humans’ total cumulative carbon emissions from 1870 to 2016 were about 600 GtC. Land use change, coal-burning and burning oil and gas each account roughly for a third: each still driving annihilation onwards.
Many thanks to Bridget McKenzie for alerting me to the article via her Everyday Ecocide group.