Humans Have Destroyed 83 Percent Of Wild Mammals, Says Study
The destructive impact that humans have had on Earth is no secret - with many people starting to realise just how detrimental our presence has been.
But a recent study has come up with a particularly chilling statistic, stating that humans have destroyed 83 percent of the world's wild mammals.
...And that's despite the fact that humans make up just 0.01 percent of all life on Earth.
The new work - the first comprehensive study into the weight of every class of living creature - was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"I was shocked to find there wasn't already a comprehensive, holistic estimate of all the different components of biomass," said Professor Ron Milo at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, who led the work.
"I would hope this gives people a perspective on the very dominant role that humanity now plays on Earth."
Milo also added that he has decided to eat less meat, due to the huge impact that livestock has on the environment.
The study found that farmed poultry makes up 70 percent of all birds on the planet - meaning just 30 percent are wild.
The numbers for mammals, meanwhile, are even more stark, with 60 percent being livestock, 36 percent humans and just four percent wild.
"It is pretty staggering," said Milo.
"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 [far] more domesticated birds."
With around half of the world's animals thought to have been lost in the last 50 years, scientists believe we are now at the beginning of the sixth mass extinction of life in Earth's four-billion-year history - thanks to the farming, logging and development that has destroyed wildlife habitats.
"It is definitely striking, our disproportionate place on Earth," said Milo.
"When I do a puzzle with my daughters, there is usually an elephant next to a giraffe next to a rhino. But if I was trying to give them a more realistic sense of the world, it would be a cow next to a cow next to a cow and then a chicken."
Milo concluded that a large part of human impact stems from how we eat, explaining: "Our dietary choices have a vast effect on the habitats of animals, plants and other organisms.
"I would hope people would take this [work] as part of their world view of how they consume."
He added: "I have not become vegetarian, but I do take the environmental impact into my decision making, so it helps me think, do I want to choose beef or poultry or use tofu instead?"
Paul Falkowski, who is from Rutgers University in America but was not part of the research team, said: "The study is, to my knowledge, the first comprehensive analysis of the biomass distribution of all organisms - including viruses - on Earth."
He continued: "There are two major takeaways from this paper. First, humans are extremely efficient in exploiting natural resources. Humans have culled, and in some cases eradicated, wild mammals for food or pleasure in virtually all continents.
"Second, the biomass of terrestrial plants overwhelmingly dominates on a global scale - and most of that biomass is in the form of wood."
Featured Image Credit: PA