A Caltech Library Service A quantitative database of human impacts on Planet Earth

Chure, Griffin and Banks, Rachel A. and Flamholz, Avi I. and Sarai, Nicholas S. and Kamb, Mason and Lopez-Gomez, Ignacio and Bar-On, Yinon and Milo, Ron and Phillips, Rob (2022) A quantitative database of human impacts on Planet Earth. Patterns, 3 (9). Art. No. 100552. ISSN 2666-3899. PMCID PMC9481956. doi:10.1016/j.patter.2022.100552.

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Over the last 10,000 years, human activities have transformed Earth through farming, forestry, mining, and industry. The complex results of these activities are now observed and quantified as "human impacts" on Earth's atmosphere, oceans, biosphere, and geochemistry. While myriad studies have explored facets of human impacts on the planet, they are necessarily technical and often highly focused. Thus, finding reliable quantitative information requires a significant investment of time to assess each quantity and associated uncertainty. We present the Human Impacts Database (, which houses a diverse array of such quantities. We review a subset of these values and how they help build intuition for understanding the Earth-human system. While collation alone does not tell us how to best ameliorate human impacts, we contend that any future plans should be made in light of a quantitative understanding of the interconnected ways in which humans influence the planet.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemDiscussion Paper
https://bionumbers.hms.harvard.eduRelated ItemBioNumbers Database
http://anthroponumbers.orgUNSPECIFIEDHuman Impacts Database CentralArticle
Chure, Griffin0000-0002-2216-2057
Banks, Rachel A.0000-0003-2028-2925
Flamholz, Avi I.0000-0002-9278-5479
Sarai, Nicholas S.0000-0002-4655-0038
Kamb, Mason0000-0001-8036-7221
Lopez-Gomez, Ignacio0000-0002-7255-5895
Bar-On, Yinon0000-0001-8477-609X
Milo, Ron0000-0003-1641-2299
Phillips, Rob0000-0003-3082-2809
Additional Information:We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of a wide array of experts for their advice, suggestions, and criticism of this work. Specifically, we thank Suzy Beeler, Joseph Berry, Lars Bildsten, Justin Bois, Chris Bowler, Matthew Burgess, Ken Caldeira, Jörn Callies, Sean B. Carroll, Ibrahim Cissé, Joel Cohen, Michelle Dan, Bethany Ehlmann, Gidon Eshel, Moi Exposito-Alonso, Paul Falkowski, Daniel Fisher, Thomas Frederikse, Neil Fromer, Eric Galbraith, Lea Goentoro, Evan Groover, John Grotzinger, Soichi Hirokawa, Greg Huber, Christina Hueschen, Bob Jaffe, Elizabeth Kolbert, Thomas Lecuit, Raphael Magarik, Jeff Marlow, Brad Marston, Jitu Mayor, Elliot Meyerowitz, Lisa Miller, Dianne Newman, Luke Oltrogge, Nigel Orme, Victoria Orphan, Marco Pasti, Pietro Perona, Noam Prywes, Stephen Quake, Hamza Raniwala, Manuel Razo-Mejia, Thomas Rosenbaum, Benjamin Rubin, Alex Rubinsteyn, Shyam Saladi, Tapio Schneider, Murali Sharma, Alon Shepon, Arthur Smith, Matthieu Talpe, Wati Taylor, Julie Theriot, Tadashi Tokieda, Cat Triandifillou, Sabah Ul-Hasan, Tine Valencic, Ned Wingreen, and Emily Zakem. We also thank Yue Qin for sharing data related to global water consumption. Many of the topics in this work began during the Applied Physics 150C course taught at Caltech during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. This work was supported by the Resnick Sustainability Institute at Caltech and the Schwartz-Reisman Collaborative Science Program at the Weizmann Institute of Science. G.C. acknowledges support by the NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology Program (grant no. 2010807).
Group:Resnick Sustainability Institute
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Resnick Sustainability InstituteUNSPECIFIED
Weizmann Institute of ScienceUNSPECIFIED
NSF Graduate Research FellowshipDBI-2010807
Issue or Number:9
PubMed Central ID:PMC9481956
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20221031-575177800.5
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:117649
Deposited By: Research Services Depository
Deposited On:09 Nov 2022 19:29
Last Modified:11 Nov 2022 18:00

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