2018-08-16 Biomass

Humans just 0.01% of all life but have destroyed 83% of wild mammals – study – “The world’s 7.6 billion people represent just 0.01% of all living things, according to the study. Yet since the dawn of civilisation, humanity has caused the loss of 83% of all wild mammals and half of plants, while livestock kept by humans abounds.”

The biomass distribution on Earth has a good visualisation of the current numbers:

Image 1

Also relevant: The Average American Ate (Literally) A Ton This Year (2011). But think about it: one day eight billion people (nine?) might be eating a ton per year, with cattle also eating plants and all that, so how much of the biosphere is being “used” in order to feed us, even if we don’t eat it all ourselves? Bill Gates writes a review of the book Harvesting the Biosphere: What We Have Taken From Nature by Vaclav Smil and says:

Smil tries to figure out what portion of the biosphere’s primary productivity—the amount of plant life generated each year by photosynthesis—is consumed by humans. He estimates that we will harvest roughly 17 percent of what the biosphere grows this year—mostly plants. (He admits it could be as little as 15 percent or as much as 25 percent.) – Humans are Using Up Earth’s Biomass

@dredmorbius has the following to add:

HANPP aanswers that question: human appropriation of net primary productivity. Measured by use of carbon-fixation capacity, it’s about 20% presently. Fossil fuel use counts for another 20%, roughly, of biomass equivalent, though it’s based on a vastly larger store of ancient stored growth. Each year presently humans consume about 5 million years of petroleum and natural gas accumulation. This from Dukes’s Burning Buried Sunshine paper.

And later, also on Mastodon:

See Jeeffrey S. Dukes, Burning Buried Sunshine (2003). One of Smil’s sources, FWIW.

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Arctic’s strongest sea ice breaks up for first time on record.

Summer weather is getting 'stuck' due to Arctic warming.

– Alex Schroeder 2018-08-21 12:22 UTC


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