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Global human-made mass exceeds all living biomass
Elhacham, E.; Ben-Uri, L.; Grozovski, J.; Bar-On, Y.M.; Milo, R. (2020). Global human-made mass exceeds all living biomass. Nature (Lond.) 588(7838): 442-444. https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-3010-5
In: Nature: International Weekly Journal of Science. Nature Publishing Group: London. ISSN 0028-0836; e-ISSN 1476-4687, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Elhacham, E.
  • Ben-Uri, L.
  • Grozovski, J.
  • Bar-On, Y.M.
  • Milo, R.

Abstract
    Humanity has become a dominant force in shaping the face of Earth. An emerging question is how the overall material output of human activities compares to the overall natural biomass. Here we quantify the human-made mass, referred to as ‘anthropogenic mass’, and compare it to the overall living biomass on Earth, which currently equals approximately 1.1 teratonnes. We find that Earth is exactly at the crossover point; in the year 2020 (± 6), the anthropogenic mass, which has recently doubled roughly every 20 years, will surpass all global living biomass. On average, for each person on the globe, anthropogenic mass equal to more than his or her bodyweight is produced every week. This quantification of the human enterprise gives a mass-based quantitative and symbolic characterization of the human-induced epoch of the Anthropocene.

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