Humans and our livestock now make up 97 percent of all animals on land. Wild animals (mammals and birds) have been reduced to a mere remnant: just 3 percent. This is based on mass. Humans and our domesticated animals outweigh all terrestrial wild mammals and birds 32-to-1.
To clarify, if we add up the weights of all the people, cows, sheep, pigs, horses, dogs, chickens, turkeys, etc., that total is 32 times greater than the weight of all the wild terrestrial mammals and birds: all the elephants, mice, kangaroos, lions, raccoons, bats, bears, deer, wolves, moose, chickadees, herons, eagles, etc. A specific example is illuminating: the biomass of chickens is more than double the total mass of all other birds combined.
Before the advent of agriculture and human civilizations, however, the opposite was the case: wild animals and birds dominated, and their numbers and mass were several times greater than their numbers and mass today. Before the advent of agriculture, about 11,000 years ago, humans made up just a tiny fraction of animal biomass, and domesticated livestock did not exist. The current situation—the domination of the Earth by humans and our food animals—is a relatively recent development.
The preceding observations are based on a May 2018 report by Yinon Bar-On, Rob Phillips, and Ron Milo published in the academic journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Bar-On and his coauthors use a variety of sources to construct a “census of the biomass of Earth”; they estimate the mass of all the plants, animals, insects, bacteria, and other living things on our planet.
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