5-speed listening (Life on Earth - Level 6)

Half of life on Earth gone since humans arrived



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Humans represent a tiny fraction of all life on Earth, but are responsible for the destruction of 83 per cent of all wild mammals and half of our plant life. This is the analysis of a new study from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. The ground-breaking report is the first investigation into the weight of every class of creature and life form on our planet. Lead researcher Professor Ron Milo explained what instigated the research. He said: "I was shocked to find there wasn't already a comprehensive, holistic estimate of all the different components of biomass." He hopes the study will provide, "a perspective on the very dominant role that humanity now plays on Earth".

There are 7.6 billion people on Earth, but they represent just 0.01% of all living things. Scientists say that is the same percentage as for termites. However, since we began walking on this planet, we have managed to cause the loss of most of its living species. Humans have also greatly changed the ratios of livestock to wild animals. Today, farmed poultry (mostly chickens) makes up 70% of all birds on the planet, with just 30% of birds being wild. Similarly, 60% of all mammals on Earth are livestock (mostly cattle and pigs), while just 4% are wild animals. Professor Milo hopes people will use his study, "as part of their world view [and] of how they consume" He said he hopes people will eat less meat.

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Life on Earth - Level 4  |  Life on Earth - Level 5

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