The MacCready Explosion
Only a few generations ago the world was considered a vast mysterious and unexplored realm. Today we are familiar with a steady inflow of information about the influence of the human population explosion that followed the industrial Revolution and the post-World War II Great Acceleration in population numbers. This greatly vamped up human demand on planetary resources affecting the Earth’s biogeochemical systems that prompted the naming of a new epoch, the Anthropocene.
One of the lesser-known phenomena is that of the MacCready explosion which relates to shifts in global biomass resulting from domesticated animals.
The ‘MacCready explosion’ claims that 10,000 years ago humans, their pets and livestock comprised around 0.1% of the terrestrial vertebrate biomass. Today this total has rocketed to 98% (MacCready 2004). Though a statistic that is difficult to substantiate, this is a stark reminder that superimposed on human demands for plant food and other resources are the demands on planetary ecosystems resulting from animal domestication.