An exhaustive attempt by researchers to find a single untouched space on planet Earth has yielded no results. Sorry, folks, everything is ruined now.
Barrow Observatory in the snow (Image: NOAA)
Researchers at the University of Oxford undertook the task in the hopes of finding a still pristine location, perhaps deep in the Arctic circle or on some remote island. Instead, as they detail in a new paper in PNAS, they got a better look at just how completely human activity has hit every single inch of the globe, to the point where they couldn’t identify even one such spot.
In addition to looking at the archaeological record, researchers also looked at microfossils, analysed ancient DNAs and created a large statistical model of changes in plant growth. Prior to the Industrial Revolution they found that the impact of human civilisation was mostly localised. But as our tech got more advanced, so did its ability to migrate to the point where, even without setting foot in a place, our presence was still felt. Even in ancient forests where no people lived, or left any evidence of having lived before, the environment was still shaped by people, as the crops people grew migrated and overtook the area.
No matter how remote the destination you find may seem, the truth is that if you want to experience a place of untouched wilderness today, the only way to do that is to hit another planet.