Almost half of the Earth has yet to receive a significant human impact

Almost half of the Earth has yet to receive a significant human impact

Although we could have a resource problem or an environmental conflict, the truth is that the Earth is almost empty of humans: we could all fit comfortably in the Iberian Peninsula with a population density similar to that of Madrid .

But even if the influence of humanity on the planet is calculated and we exclude the land not covered by ice, we have barely affected half , according to a study led by the National Geographic Society and UC Davis.

Human impact

The worst affected half of the earth’s land includes cities, farmlands, and heavily exploited or mined places . The study, published in the journal Global Change Biology , compared four recent global maps of natural land conversion to anthropogenic land uses to reach its conclusions.

Global Human Influence Copy A map of human impact on natural lands, with green areas representing low human impact areas and purple areas with higher impact.

As lead author Jason Riggio , a postdoctoral researcher at the UC Davis Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology explains :

The encouraging conclusion from this study is that if we act quickly and decisively, there is a thin window in which we can still keep roughly half of Earth’s land in a relatively intact state.

Intact natural lands around the world can help purify air and water, recycle nutrients, improve soil fertility and retention, pollinate plants, and break down waste products. Among the largest low-impact areas are vast tracts of boreal forests and tundra in northern Asia and North America and vast deserts such as the Sahara in Africa and the Australian Outback.

Approximately 15% of the Earth’s land surface and 10% of the oceans are currently protected in some way .