Apportions of Energy

Here we illustrate the apportioning of energy at Earth’s surface. The initial table shows the amount of energy from the Sun, the Sun’s energy that impacts the surface and the amount of energy contained with life. For reference, we include the primary energy consumption by humans, mostly sourced from fossil fuels.

Sun’s Energy to Earth 3.77×1024 Joules per annum
Energy to Earth’s Surface 1.81×1024 Joules per annum
Gross for all Life (Bar-On) 21.8×1021 Joules
Terrestrial Net Primary Productivity (Atjay) 5.28×1021 Joules per annum
Primary Energy Consumption by Humans (2019) 0.5839×1021 Joules per annum

The following Sankey diagrams highlight the apportioning of the Earth’s life energy in exajoules. An exajoule is 1×1018Joules.

Energy apportioning for each taxon on Earth:

And energy apportioning for animal life on Earth:

The above emphasizes the much greater apportion for Humans and Livestock than for Wild Mammals and Wild Birds. Associated with this is that humans use nearly a third of Earth’s land area for agriculture (i.e. crops and pasture). Imagine the changes as we continue to increase agriculture; the apportion to wild animals will continue to decrease.

These Sankey diagrams serve to illustrate and amplify the implications of finite energy. That is, as humans claim more for themselves then there will be less for wild creatures and in consequence, fewer wild creatures. This is the future that we are making. Connect with us and let’s aim for a fully inclusive future.


  1. NASA –
  2. BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2020
  3. Ajtay, G. L., P. Ketner, and P. Duvigneaud, “Terrestrial primary production and phytomass, in The Global Carbon Cycle”, edited by B. Bolin et al., pp. 129to181, John Wiley, New York, 1979.
  4. Yinon M. Bar-On, Rob Phillips, Ron Milo, “The biomass distribution on Earth”,
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Jun 2018, 115 (25) 6506to6511; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1711842115.