All the human-made things in the world really add up

New study shows that the total weight of the technology that people have made is over seven times that of all the living things on Earth
human-made city london The city of London, England is a great example of how all the human-made things on Earth can really add up! (© Jon Ingall | Dreamstime.com)


The holidays are here and let's face it: most of us are looking forward to getting (and giving) stuff. Whether it's toys or gadgets, clothing or books, there are a lot of things that are going to be bought, given, and received in the next few days. Even these puppets are pretty excited!

It's all in good fun and we certainly don't blame anyone for being excited about what's around the bend! But it does get you thinking... what do all of the human-made things on Earth weigh?

For all of those curious minds out there, a new report from scientists at the University of Leicester in England has figured out just that. And their findings are, well, immense.

All the buildings, all the vehicles, all the gadgets

First off, let's be clear what we're talking about. Because when we say "all of the human-made things", we literally mean all of them. From giant skyscrapers and cruise ships down to pens and pins... this report is looking at every single thing on the planet that humans have manufactured. (And yes, this includes our garbage.)

Now that we have that out of the way, let's get to the numbers. Drum roll, please...

30 trillion tons! We human beings have built, molded, cast, cut, and pieced together 30 trillion tons of homes, planes, factories, cars, books, clothes, phones, pots, and more. That's a lot of stuff!

What does that mean?

Anyone can say 30 trillion tons, but getting a picture of what that actually means requires some comparisons. For example, how much does the planet itself weigh? It is estimated that the mass of Earth is about 6 sextillion tons, which is still significantly more than these human-made things on its surface. (1 sextillion equals 1000 trillion.) So you could step back and say, "Hey, that's not that much."

But think about this. All of the living matter on Earth? It weigh only 4 trillion tons. That's all of the trees, plants, insects, cattle, elephants, whales, fish... every single living thing. Including us humans! Now, that's a pretty fascinating way to look at it. People have officially created over seven times the weight of all of the naturally living things on our planet.

So if the amount of gifts your receive these holidays feel a little light to you, just think of it this way: that might not be such a bad thing after all!


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