There’s simply no denying the fact that humans have drastically altered, developed, and ransacked much of the natural world for our own ends. But how much of the planet’s surface remains free of our often malign influence?
If we were to map Earth looking only for signs of humanity’s footprint on landscapes, how much of the terrestrial surface would we find that had not already been built into cities, mined for resources, or razed to grow crops, instead of being left alone in an unaltered state?
In a new study, scientists compared figures from four different sets of spatial data to answer this question. While each of the datasets uses different kinds of methodologies and classification systems, on average, the researchers say roughly half (48 to 56 percent) of the world’s land shows ‘low’ influence of humans.