Research shows that human-made materials have outweighed Earth’s biomass for the first time–things created by humans now outnumber living organisms.
These are the results of a new study published in Nature Wednesday, which aimed to show the severity of what human activity has done to the planet. “The study provides a symbolic and mass-based quantitative characterization of the Anthropocene, the geological age of the ‘human era.’ Given the empirical evidence of the accumulated mass of human artifacts, we can no longer deny our central role in the natural world,” reported study authors Emily Elhacham and Ron Milo.
To get their findings, the authors of the study from Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science divided man-made material into several categories: concrete, brick, asphalt, metals, wood. Glass and plastic. They then compared the weight of all this to the Earth’s biomass, or the combined weight of all its living things, including humans, animals and plants.
The authors concluded that 2020 is a “transition point” where human-made material outweighs living things. According to The Guardian, the heaviest human-made objects are buildings and infrastructure, which are usually built of brick, asphalt or concrete. Plastic alone outweighs all land and sea animals.