Over the years, humans have built a number of things, including roads, buildings, vehicles and also plastic.
And 2020 has become the year when human-made objects finally outweigh the total mass of Earth’s living biomass, which is estimated to be around 1.1 teratonnes.
This means, for every person on the planet, more than their body weight in stuff is now being produced each week.
Researcher’s from Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science to make their calculations divided human-made objects into six main categories — concrete, aggregates (including materials like gravel), bricks, asphalt, metals and “other” materials that includes plastic, wood used for construction and paper, and glass.
Concrete, aggregates, bricks and asphalt dominate the mass as they are the foundation for modern buildings, other infrastructure and roads.
However, the researchers did not consider waste in their calculation or else the scales would have tipped as early as 2013.
Dr Ron Milo, who led the research, told BBC News: “The significance is symbolic in the sense that it tells us something about the major role that humanity now plays in shaping the world and the state of the Earth around us.”
The scientists found since the 1900s, the total landmass of human-made materials has steadily increased. The rate began to speed up in the 1950s, with the mass of human-made materials doubling every 20 years for the last century.
At the same time, the weight of living things has been steadily falling, because of thousands of years of land use, like cutting down trees to plant fields and raise livestock.
Since the first agricultural reforms over 12,000 years ago, humans have cut global biomass by nearly half — from 2 teratonnes to around 1.1 teratonnes now.
Really, humans have changed the planet at a staggering speed.
Going by the same rate, in the next 20 years, i.e. by 2040, the weight of all human-made stuff will almost triple to 3 teratonnes.
The research is further proof that we have entered Anthropocene, a new geological age, where humanity’s impacts on Earth will be visible in sediments and rocks millions of years into the future.