Humanity’s demands on nature, in pictures

These super pictures illustrate the density of primary production across planet earth and the demands by humans, relative to that local production capacity. The massive productivity of the Amazon basin and similar sub-tropical environments stand out. And it is interesting to see the greatest relative demands being made in the Middle East, India and China.

What is not made clear though is the fact that current consumption exceeds net primary production by about 3x on the earth as a whole. (This difference is largely made up for by fossil fuels.) This article, Can the earth’s plants keep up with us? is clearer on that point.

The ratio of human consumption to regional net primary productivity could be an indicator of locations that are particularly vulnerable to supply disruptions, for example, as a result of natural disasters or civil unrest. Combined with models of the impacts of climate change, these models could also help countries predict the biosphere’s ability to sustain their population’s consumption levels in the future.

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