2020 Marks the Point When Human-Made Materials Outweigh All the Living Things on Earth, a New Study Finds

Read the full story in Time.

In a startling sign of the impact that humans are having on our planet, a study published Dec. 9 estimates that 2020 marks the point when human-made materials outweigh the total mass of Earth’s living biomass.

Scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science found that the total mass of human-made materials—such as concrete, steel and asphalt—has increased rapidly since 1900, when it made up the equivalent of just 3% of the mass of living biomass—plants, animals and microorganisms. As humans have constructed more buildings, roads, structures and objects over the last 120 years, the mass of human-produced materials has grown from less than 0.1 teratonnes to roughly 1 teratonne (1 trillion tonnes), the study, published in the journal Nature estimates.

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