The tides are in our veins, we still mirror the stars, life is your child, but there is in me
Older and harder than life and more impartial, the eye that watched before there was an ocean – Robinson Jeffers
A report this week, published in Nature, stated the weight of human-made objects exceeds the biomass weight of all living things on Earth. Think about that. Human’s artificial creation is heavier than natural Creation. Man-made plastic, cement, steel, etc. outweighs all plants, animals, fungi, bacteria etc. Stunning. How is this possible? The report stated that for every single person on Earth their body weight in artificial shit is being produced – every week. Let that sink in for a minute. For every single person on the planet an equivalent weight of plastic whatchamacallits, doohickeys and steel-reinforced concrete is crapped out – every seven days. Relentlessly converting earth into synthetic reality. But one of the most frightening parts was how the scientist defined this point in time as a Crossover Point – “…the anthropogenic mass… will surpass all global living biomass….” That time is NOW – 2020.
Global Human-made mass exceeds all living biomass
To be able to comprehend the scale of this unnatural disaster, one has to get a handle on some large numbers. Man-made and Bio-made mass are equal to One Teratonne. Here is the dictionary definition: “1 Teratonne or metric teratonne (unit of mass) is equal to 1,000,000,000,000 metric tons. A metric ton is exactly 1000 kilograms, making a teratonne equal to 1000000000000000 kilograms. 1 Tt = 1000000000000000 kg.” Human-made = One Terratonne of mass / Nature-made = One Terratonne of mass. The enormity of this scale makes it hard to comprehend.
A group of data experts created this incredible info-graphics site for anthropogenic mass. Scroll down slowly and let the images impact your thinking.
Serious groups of scientists from many disciplines are discussing how to identify the beginning of what is being called the Anthropocene Epoch – Age of Humans. The majority agree that Epoch began sometime in the middle of the Twentieth Century. So within the Age of Humans, humans rapidly reduced the earth’s biomass in the past 120 years. In 1900 man-made objects weighed only 3% of all biomass. Although the Earth’s biomass is One Terratonne today. Plants make up 90% of the total biomass of the planet. 12,000 years ago, at the start of the Agricultural Revolution, there was Two terratons of plants on Earth. The nearly eight billion people on Earth today make up only 0.01% of total biomass, but have created 1,000,000,000,000,000 kg of “things” from the natural resources.
This is a tipping point in the history of humankind’s relationship with Nature. Like so many things in our modern world, the rate of change is accelerating. According to the report, in the past five years people have created 30 gigatonnes (30 billion tonnes) of material every year. The scientists calculated over the next twenty years – humans will have created three terratonnes of human-produced materials. When is enough finally going to be enough? The first sentence of the new report is: Humanity has become a major force in shaping the face of the Earth.
Years ago, a big part of my job was environmental education. I worked with thousands of wonderful teachers from kindergarten to high school. America loves legal definitions, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines environmental education as “…a process that allows individuals to explore environmental issues, engage in problem solving, and take action to improve the environment” the end result being, “individuals develop a deeper understanding of environmental issues and have the skills to make informed and responsible decisions”. Curriculum development boils down complex concepts to their essence. It is time to practice a simple concept from environmental education the 3Rs – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. We all need to put the brakes on this out of control man-made pile of sh*t. Perhaps the best lesson I ever received was, like so many, in my mother’s arms. As a little boy she taught me to love nature, respect life and live humanely. Peace.