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This essay has presented Earth’s many changing faces during its journey. Earth had molten beginnings, was , and may have . Later, and and . Earth experienced swings from to conditions as atmospheric gases dramatically changed, continents moved, and vast and of complex life played out on land and sea. But the changes happened over timescales of millions and billions of years, not hundreds. No climate scientist will deny that carbon dioxide traps infrared radiation and warms Earth’s atmosphere. The vented enough carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to create 200 million years of Greenhouse Earth conditions, when reptiles ruled Earth. Volcanism waned and around 150-to-100 mya. By 35 mya, and the Antarctic ice sheet began forming. Every paleoclimate study I have seen places greenhouse gas (and primarily carbon dioxide) concentrations as the primary determinant of global surface temperatures, after the Sun's radiation, but the Sun's output is considered to have been exceptionally stable and has risen slowly over the eons. , usually by accentuating the carbon dioxide with a positive feedback effect that may have reached runaway conditions at times.
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The derision was loud from Wrangham’s colleagues…until evidence of was found at in South Africa by using new tools and techniques. The chortling is subsiding somewhat and scientists are now looking for the faint evidence, and long-disputed evidence of 1.5-1.7 mya controlled fires is being reconsidered, although his hypothesis is still widely considered as being only "mildly compelling" at best. New tools may push back the control of fire to a time that matches Wrangham’s audacious hypothesis. Wrangham cited the Expensive-Tissue Hypothesis as partially supporting the Cooking Hypothesis, but , the energy to power the human brain may not have solely derived from cooked food’s energy benefits. Wrangham has cited numerous lines of evidence, one of which is a that has to find honeybee hives and smoke them out; the humans get the honey and the honeyguide gets the larvae and wax. According to recent molecular evidence, the evolutionary split of the honeyguide from its ancestors happened up to three mya, which supports the early-control-of-fire hypothesis. There is great controversy regarding these subjects, from recent findings that to scientists making arguments that to the social impacts of campfires. This section of this essay will probably be one of the first to be revised in future versions, as new evidence is adduced and new hypotheses are proposed.
As smoke cleared and dust settled, literally, from the , the few surviving mammals and birds crept from their refuges, seeds and spores grew into plants, and the began, which is also called the Age of Mammals, as they have dominated this era. The Cenozoic’s first period is the , which ran from about 66 mya to 23 mya. As this essay enters the era of most interest to most humans, I will slice the timeline a little finer and use the concept of epochs. The Paleogene’s first epoch is called the (c. 66 to 56 mya).
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Perhaps the most damaging deficiency in FE efforts, after self-serving orientation, was that the participants and their supporters were scientifically illiterate and easily led astray by the latest spectacle. Scientific literacy can help prevent most such distractions. While writing this essay, I was not only bombarded with news of the latest FE and alternative energy aspirants' antics, but I had to continually field queries regarding whether Peak Oil and Global Warming were conspiratorial elite hoaxes (or figments of the hyperactive imaginations of environmentalists and other activists), for two examples that readily come to mind. Digesting this essay's material should have those questions answered as mere side-effects. Far from being a hoax or imaginary, Peak Oil was and , and it is all downhill from there, and conventional oil will be almost entirely depleted in my lifetime. , although both were heavily promoted in the USA in 2014. In every paleoclimate study that I have seen, so-called greenhouse gases have always been considered the primary determinant of Earth's surface temperature (after the Sun), and carbon dioxide is chief among them. The radiation-trapping properties of carbon dioxide are not controversial in the slightest among scientists, and after the Sun's influence (which is exceedingly stable), declining carbon dioxide levels are considered to be the conditions that have dominated Earth for the past 35 million years. Humanity's increasing the atmosphere's carbon dioxide content is influencing the cause of Icehouse Earth, and , and are merely proximate causes. Increasing carbon dioxide can turn the global climate from an to a Greenhouse Earth, and the last time that happened, Earth had its . But have purposefully confused the issues, and a scientifically illiterate public and have played along, partly because believing the disinformation seems to relieve us all of any responsibility for our actions. Although scientific literacy can help people become immune to the disinformation and confusion arising from many corners, and reading this essay's first half can help people develop their own defense from such distractions, my goals for this essay's first half are far greater than that.