Our deficiencies have always driven us, even among our abroad ancestors, back in the last Ice Age. Having neither the speed and backbone to hunt large prey, nor sharp teeth and claws to tear flesh, we improvised spears, flint knives, scrapers. Lacking a thick pelt, we took the fur of other animals. As the ice receded, we devised more means of adaptation and abundance – stone dwellings, plows, wheeled vehicles. All these inventions accustomed small oases of acculturation to be wrested from a accustomed wilderness that seemed endless.

The idea of a accustomed world that askew altruism and its creations long persisted, even into modern times – only to run, lately, into apropos that altitude was changing, and breed were dying through our actions. How could that be, with us so small, and nature so large?

Now a new study in Nature by a team of scientists from the Weizmann Institute in Israel upends that perspective. Our constructions have now – indeed, spookily, just this year – accomplished the same mass as that of all living bacilli on Earth. The human action is growing fast, too, while nature keeps shrinking. The science-fiction book of an engineered planet is already here.

It seems a simple comparison, and yet is fiendishly difficult in practice. But this team has convenance in ambidextrous with such absurd challenges. A couple of years ago they worked out the first part of the equation, the mass of all life on Earth – including that of all the fish in the sea, bacilli in the soil, trees on land, birds in the air, and much more besides. Earth’s abode now weighs a little less than 1.2 abundance tonnes (of dry mass, not counting water), trees on land making up most of it. It was article like double that before humans started allowance forests – and it is still diminishing.