How much earth does humanity need?

Man alone consumes a quarter of the total biomass

Read out

Man alone consumes a quarter of the total annual biomass production of the earth - and the trend is rising. A recent study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) shows that through intervention such as the harvesting of plants or the clearing of forests, people account for 24 percent of the total Possible production of all ecosystems of the earth claim for themselves.


The production of food, wood and bioenergy through agriculture and forestry plays the biggest role. But also the land sealing by settlement and infrastructure development leads to ever stronger interventions in ecosystems. "With this, humanity is increasingly restricting the food energy available to all other species - with unforeseeable consequences for biodiversity, " explains Helmut Haberl from the University of Klagenfurt and head of the study.

Man as a burden for the earth

Human intervention in the biosphere, such as the cultivation and harvesting of crops and the clearing of forests, is significantly changing the net primary production of global ecosystems. With "human appropriation of net primary production" can be measured how much impact humanity has on the biosphere.

Helmut Haberl and his team from the Institute of Social Ecology at the University of Klagenfurt have thus developed a comprehensive method for assessing this human impact. They analyzed data on land use and biomass harvest from 161 countries, or 97 percent of the earth's surface. Thus, humans alone consume 24 percent of the possible biomass production of all ecosystems on earth, half of them by harvest. display

The researchers warn against amplifying the calculated high level of pressure on ecosystems through excessive plans to replace fossil energy with biomass energy and hope that these considerations will be incorporated into the development of sustainable development strategies.

(University of Klagenfurt, 05.07.2007 - NPO)