Staggering statistics, being a warning that humans can eliminate their own species at scale (through nuclear weapons or climate change, for instance) if they fail to be careful enough.
While scientists and conservationists grow increasingly worried about the world’s biodiversity, a new study that sought to estimate the biomass of all living creatures on Earth has shed some light on humanity’s impact.
The planet is largely dominated by plants, which make up 82 percent of all life on Earth, followed by bacteria at 13 percent, and the remaining five percent is everything else, including 7.6 billion human beings.
According to the study, published Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), people only make up 0.01 percent of the Earth’s biomass—however, their impact has been massive.
The researchers estimate that, in terms of biomass, the so-called rise of human civilization has destroyed 83 percent of wild mammals, 80 percent of marine animals, 50 percent of plants, and 15 percent of fish.