Continuous destruction of Earth’s plant life need to be halted if we want to avert civilization from becoming completely unsustainable, claims a new study.
Study’s lead author and associate professor John Schramski, at University of Georgia researchers said Earth was like a battery that has been charged very slowly over billions of years. The sun’s energy is stored in plants and fossil fuels, but humans have been draining energy much faster than it can be replenished.
Scientists estimate that the Earth contained approximately 1,000 billion tons of carbon in living biomass 2,000 years ago. Since that time, humans have reduced that amount by almost half. It is estimated that just over 10 percent of that biomass was destroyed in just the last century.
If this trend is not reversed, we would eventually reach a point where the biomass battery discharges to a level at which Earth can no longer sustain us, Schramski said.
If human beings do not go extinct, and biomass drops below sustainable thresholds, the population will decline drastically, and people will be forced to return to life as hunter-gatherers or simple horticulturalists, according to the paper.
The research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.