Human impact on the biosphere is much greater than its formal “weight”.
One of the main aims of biology as a science — the understanding of the mechanisms of functioning of the biosphere in General, in all its complex interrelationships, both internal and external. It is important to have reasonable quantitative estimates of the mass of living organisms — as a whole, and for individual taxa. However, as the authors of an article published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, contemporary data on this.
About three years it took Ron Milo (Milo Ron) to Israeli Weizmann Institute and his colleagues on the search and analysis an extensive literature (a list of links in a short article reaches fifty points). To exclude the influence of different water content in different organisms, the evaluation they conducted on the amount of carbon that is associated in one or another realm of the living. According to this indicator, the total mass of the entire biosphere of the Earth was about 550 GT (GT, billion tons).
Despite his enormous size, viruses represent only a tiny fraction of this mass to 0.2 GT. The undisputed leaders were plants with their mass of 450 GT, most of the weight falls on land plants: land plants and animal organisms generally responsible for 470 GT fixed carbon. Animals rack up a total of 2 GT of carbon mass, while half of it is insects. The proportion of humanity — 0,06 GT is comparable to the mass of the entire group of termites, but an order of magnitude more than the total mass of all wild mammals on the planet.
However, the impact of humanity on the biosphere is much greater than its formal “weight” — and new data is again evident: the mass of agricultural animals carbon is an impressive 0.1 Gigatons. According to Science News, the authors are interested in a more challenging question: what is the most common protein on Earth? We look forward to those results.