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The Human Footprint: 8 Billion People on Earth

Human Footprint Population Growth

The Human Footprint

We erect cities, trim forests, and alter the environment. In fact, 75% of land outside of ice sheets is managed by us.

Because of our massive human footprint, scientists are proposing we have already entered a new epoch called the “Anthropocene”.

Let’s examine the extent of the human footprint on Earth.

How is the landscape changing?

As the population increases to 8+ people, food production is set to match this increase. Now, there are over 5 billion hectares designated for agricultural land compared to just 1 billion in 1800. So that means about 40% of land is for feeding the planet.

Forests cover approximately 30% of Earth’s land surface and are important carbon sinks. But as the urban area expands, forest cover is in the decline. According to the World Resource Institute, we have already lost 80% of the world’s natural forests due to our human footprint.

Approximately 15% of land is protected because they’re recognized for its ecological value. But currently, extinction rates are 100 to 1000 times above normal. A lot of critical biomes are in desperate need of protection to preserve biodiversity.

What is the global human footprint index?

The emergence of humans has left a profound impact on the planet. We can measure the cumulative impact of human disturbance in nature through the global human footprint index:

The Wildlife Conservation Society has devised the global human footprint index which includes the following classes:

  • Built environment
  • Population density
  • Electric infrastructure
  • Cultivated lands
  • Pasture lands
  • Roads and railways

Currently, 75% of our land surface is experiencing human pressure. And from 1993 to 2009, the population has grown 23%. But the human footprint has increased by just 9%.

READ MORE: Human Timeline: How Long Have Humans Existed?

The Human Footprint: 8+ Billion People on Earth

The Global Human Footprint Index (GHI) is a report that assesses the environmental impact of humans on the planet. The GHI highlights how much waste we create that does not biodegrade and the amount we recycle.

It is a compilation of data from different sources. It includes research and monitoring agencies from around the world. They provide a snapshot of how human activity affects the environment.

The GHI is important because it provides a valuable source of information for policymakers and decision-makers who want to make informed decisions about how to address the environmental challenges of our time.