Down with NPP?

By Adam Brock

I came across this map yesterday in a recent Oil Drum essay. It shows human activity as a percentage of “Net Primary Production”: the amount of solar energy in a given area that’s converted to organic matter via photosynthesis. The global average comes out to 20% NPP, while in urban areas, the figure is around 3000%.

In other words, we’re now gobbling up a fifth of the energy that is produced by all forms of land-based life every year – and thanks to fossil fuels, our cities use 300 times the energy that life there would otherwise be producing. I call that scary.

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