A report in Nature has highlighted the incredible use of human-made materials – increasing carbon emissions and affecting human health in devastating ways.
The report is a shocking insight into the behaviour of consumption unique only to the last few generations. This year marked the first time that materials including asphalt, metals, bricks and plastics to name a few, have overtaken biologically occurring matter, outweighing it for the first time in history.
In the report, the authors say: “The face of Earth in the twenty-first century is affected in an unprecedented manner by the activities of humanity and the production and accumulation of human-made objects”
“Since the first agricultural revolution, humanity has roughly halved the mass of plants, from approximately two teratonnes (Tt, units of 1012 tonne; where estimates are on a dry-mass basis) down to the current value10 of approximately 1 Tt”
In theory, the economic downturn should decrease demand, however, even in a world of financial uncertainty, emissions and in particular plastic-based products, have seen an increase in sales and production. Amazon growth expanded, with Jeff Bezos increasing his wealth by $48 billion during periods of lockdown.
The researcher’s outgoing comments are of particular concern, as it showcases a use-before-comprehension policy of the conversion of naturally occurring materials such as oil to plastic.
“At the beginning of the twentieth century, anthropogenic mass was equal to only 3% of global biomass, with a massive difference of about 1.1 Tt on a dry-weight basis. About 120 years later, in 2020, anthropogenic mass is exceeding overall biomass in the world”