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Human beings are just 0.01% of living things on Earth - but we’ve wiped out almost everything else


The world’s population – 7.6 billion people – seems like a staggeringly huge number, but we represent just 0.01% of all living things (by weight), a new study has found.

But in our time on this planet, we’ve wiped out most of our wild competition, with 83% of wild animals and half of plants now gone, according to researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.

As humans have come to dominate the planet, farmed livestock has come to replace most wild species – with 70% of birds on the planet now farmed poultry, the Guardian reported.

Livestock (cows and pigs, largely) make up 60% of animals on Earth, 36% are humans and just 4% are now wild animals.

The study estimates the weight of every class of living creature, with bacteria 13% of the world’s biomass, and plants 82%.

All the animals in the sea represent just 1%, the researchers found.

Prof Ron Milo, at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, says, ‘I would hope this gives people a perspective on the very dominant role that humanity now plays on Earth.

‘It is pretty staggering. In wildlife films, we see flocks of birds, of every kind, in vast amounts, and then when we did the analysis we found there are more domesticated birds.’

‘I was shocked to find there wasn’t already a comprehensive, holistic estimate of all the different components of biomass.’

Kit's comment: What the scientists did was calculate the carbon in all living things to compute the biomass. The article's title is misleading in that the study did not indicate, except perhaps indirectly, human's destruction of species. However, it did underline the degree to which domestic species dominate wild species in certain categories, such as birds.

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