Another evolutionary concept is that all changes had mechanical reasons for happening (again, today’s science has ), and each mechanical change required some purpose in improving an organism’s chances of surviving to reproduce, or at least not have unduly impaired it. As evolution progressed, for each species, it was like taking a road, and the farther down the road a species went in its development, the “lifestyle” opportunities that its biological operation created precluded other kinds of styles. For instance, trees will never become . Trees went down the path of roots, , growing taller than their neighbors, and the like. A plant cannot choose locomotion as a way of life. It does not generate enough energy for it, for one thing. Animals went down a very different evolutionary path than plants did, and muscles, brains, livers, and the like have no analogy in plants and, by themselves, plants will not grow muscles or brains anytime soon, although humans have been making radical changes in animals over brief periods of time, such as the many breeds of dog.
This chapter will provide a somewhat detailed review of the Cryogenian Ice Age and its aftermath, including some of the hypotheses regarding it, evidence for it, and its outcomes, as the eon of complex life arose after it. The ran from about 850 mya to 635 mya. This review will sketch the complex interactions of life and geophysical processes, and the increasingly multidisciplinary methods being used to investigate such events, which are yielding new and important insights.
In the 1990s, I found the dating issue enthralling and saw it assailed by fringe theorists and by . A couple of decades later, I reached the understanding that, like all sciences, dating has its limitations and the enthusiasm for a new technique can become a little too exuberant, but dating techniques and technologies have greatly improved in my lifetime. Dating the , and using 100,000-year increments to place the dates, may seem a conceit, thinking that scientists can place that event with that precision, but over the years my doubts have diminished. When and can be tested, and the findings support not only Earth’s age previously determined by myriad methods, but also support the prevailing theories for the solar system’s and Moon’s formation, call me impressed. Controversies will persist over various finds and methods used, and scientific fraud certainly occurs, but taken as a whole, those converging lines of independently tested evidence make it increasingly unlikely that the entire enterprise is a mass farce, delusion, or even a conspiracy, as many from the fringes continue to argue. There is still a , and it is not a parody. I have looked into fringe claims for many years and few of them have proven valid; even if many were, their potential importance to the human journey was often minor to trifling. As the story that this essay tells comes closer to today’s humanity, orthodox controversies become more heated and fringe claims proliferate.
I was also regularly dismayed by orthodox scientific and academic works that dealt with the human brain, consciousness, human nature, , FE technology, and the like, in which the authors accepted declassified government documents at face value (as in not wondering what else remained classified, for starters) or looked no further than 19th-century investigations. Direct personal experience is far more valuable than all of the experimental evidence that be amassed; there is no substitute for it, as that is where comes from. Armchair scientists who accept the skeptics' word for it have taken the easy way out and rely on unreliable "investigators" to tell them about the nature of reality. They consequently do not have informed opinions, or perhaps more accurately, they have opinions. The holy warriors’ efforts aside, the scientific data is impressive regarding what has been called “psi” and other terms, which clearly demonstrated abilities of consciousness that are still denied and neglected by mainstream science. , but he was a voice in the wilderness.
The battle between materialists and religious orders over the years, in which materialist evolutionists grapple with creationists and intelligent design proponents, seems to be a feud between two fundamentalist camps. Nowhere in such battles are the abilities or wisdom of accomplished mystics found. The nature and role of consciousness, both in this dimension and beyond it, are likely far too subtle to be profitably engaged by the level of debate that predominates today. Scientists such as by the evident intelligence behind the universe’s design, but that did not mean that they believed in a God with a flowing beard. As this essay will explore later, those issues are not merely fodder for idle philosophical pursuit, but at their root lies the crux of the current conundrum that humanity finds itself in, as we .
The concepts of total energy available, EROI, and the efficiencies of delivering and using them all contribute to what may be the most important energy concept of all, as far as the human standard of living goes: , which is the energy available to humans beyond what feeds them, which will be .
Almost all traditional alternative energy sources and related technologies have low EROIs (direct solar 2-to-8, wind turbines 18, geothermal less than 5). Those alternative sources all have the same problems that wind and water power had before the Industrial Revolution and more, such as , not much energy is available to begin with, and they all create environmental impacts that, although not as great as fossil and nuclear fuels, are still considerable. Wind turbines not only kill vast numbers of birds each year, but they are noisy and create inland turbulence. In order to replace fossil fuels, there would need to be about four hundred times as many windmills on Earth as there already are, and I have driven through several windmill farms in the USA, which are spread across many miles of suitable terrain. In order to raise humanity to the American standard of living, there would need to be far more than a thousand times as many windmills. There may not be enough suitable land on Earth to host those windmills, and windmills are considered the most viable traditional alternative. Direct solar, including photovoltaics, makes the most sense in deserts. It does not deliver much energy, but it is considered the next most viable alternative, and there would have to be about four thousand times as many photovoltaic arrays as already exist to raise the world to the American standard of living. Again, finding the land to host them is a problem, and the materials need to be mined. There are maintenance issues and other problems. Rock is not a good conductor, so heat is rapidly depleted from the geothermal source and it quickly goes “dry,” and has to go “fallow” to recover.
Leaders in developing the concept of believe that an EROI of at least five, and closer to ten, is needed to run a modern civilization. The shale oil and tar sands that were touted in the first decade of the 21st century have EROIs of less than five and as low as two, and similarly promoted biofuels have an EROI of about one. Exploiting inferior energy sources is a classic resource depletion scenario that has played out numerous times during the human journey, as each energy resource was plundered to exhaustion, whether it was terrestrial megafauna, forests, soils, or whales. Industrial civilization is fast approaching the level where it cannot energetically sustain itself. Below is a chart of EROIs for various, mostly American, energy sources. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Once the energy is delivered into a gas tank or turbine boiler, the efficiency of turning that chemical energy into mechanical energy is what first dealt with. Mechanical energy is called , whether it comes from human muscles, the muscles of draft animals, or machines. Also, the concept of power is critical, which is the amount of work performed over a time period. How quickly energy can be released and used is the crux of how rockets work, for instance. To get more power, more sophisticated technology was required, from taller masts in sailing ships to stronger components for watermills to high-performance engines (which run hotter with greater pressures). Generating more power was always a technological feat but was dependent on how much energy could be delivered and utilized and how quickly.
For the first concept presented above, for conventional renewable energy sources, they are replenished by sunlight or radiation from Earth’s interior; one is fusion, and the other is fission. For so-called non-renewable energy sources, such as hydrocarbons and fissile materials, they are either renewed on timescales so vast that they are effectively non-renewable for humans (such as ), or are “renewed” by the (fissile materials), so could only be renewed with new planetary formation. In mainstream thought, the currently non-renewable energy resources are primarily hydrocarbons (petroleum, coal, and natural gas) and uranium. Much of the debate centers around the definition of oil. What has been called oil for the past 150 years is today called . It is the oil formed by the , and can be mined by drilling wells and extracting it with the conventional methods that have been used since the beginning, and new techniques are periodically invented to increase the rate and total extraction. For conventional oil, humanity has unearthed about 1.1 trillion barrels since 1859, and about as of 2014. Production of conventional oil peaked in 2006 at 25 billion barrels per year and has declined since then. At current production rates, conventional oil will be completely depleted in less than 50 years. About another five billion barrels per year are called unconventional oil, which is called heavy oil, extra heavy oil, and oil sands. Those unconventional oils comprise trillions more barrels, and total and arguably more. For fissile materials, primarily uranium, the peak may have already been reached by 2014, or it . For , in that the peak may have already been reached, or it is only a few decades into the future at most. For coal, may also be only a few decades into the future. Peak extraction usually occurs when about half of the recoverable energy resource has been mined. In summary, the energy resources that have powered the Industrial Revolution are all on their way to largely vanishing in this century. The only resources with seeming viability past this century are coal and unconventional oil, which brings us to the second concept: .