A staggering 60 percent of all mammals on the planet are livestock, according to a new study.
The Biomass Distribution on Earth, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, assessed all life on the planet – drawing some sobering conclusions about the impact of humanity.
The data shows that in addition to 60 percent of mammals being livestock (mainly cattle and pigs) 36 percent are human, and just four percent are wild animals. When it comes to birds, 70 percent are farmed poultry, with just 30 percent being wild. Plants make up 82 percent of living matter.
The study goes further in showing how disproportionate the impact of humans is on the planet: there are 7.6 billion people on Earth – which makes up just 0.01 percent of all living beings.
Yet humanity has caused the loss of 83 percent of all wild mammals since the dawn of civilization, it claims.
Prof Ron Milo, from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel led the work. He said: “I was shocked to find there wasn’t already a comprehensive, holistic estimate of all the different components of biomass. I would hope this gives people a perspective on the very dominant role that humanity now plays on Earth.”
Milo added that the way humans eat plays an extremely significant role in how we impact the planet.
He said: “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. 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?”