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The greatest scientists readily admitted that the theories and data of physics, that hardest of the hard sciences, drew highly limited descriptions of reality, and those scientists were usually, to one extent or another, . If textbook science falls far short of explaining reality, what can be said within its framework that is useful? Plenty. Our industrialized world is based on textbook science and feats such as putting men on the Moon were performed within the parameters of textbook science. With the waning of overspecialization and overreliance on reductionism in the last decades of the 20th century, multidisciplinary works have proliferated and will tend to dominate the references for this essay. I have found them not only very helpful for my own understanding, but they are appropriate references for a generalist essay. I have also avoided scientific terminology when feasible. For example, I use “seafloor” instead of “,” and if a non-specialized term will suffice for a scientific concept, I will often use it.

Could this essay's first half be considered an indulgence of my childhood fascination with nature? That argument could have merit, but I have always been a "big picture" kind of thinker, even as a teenager. I am writing this essay primarily to help manifest FE technology in the public sphere and help remedy the deficiencies in all previous attempts that I was part of, witnessed, heard of, or read about. The biggest problem, by far, was that those trying to bring FE technology to the public had virtually no support from the very public that they sought to help. My journey's most important lesson was that , and an egocentric humanity living in scarcity and fear is almost effortlessly manipulated by the social managers. John Q. Public is only interested in FE technology to the extent that he can immediately profit from it. Otherwise, he goes back to watching his favorite TV show. It took many years of disillusionment for that to finally become clear to me. While this essay and all of my writings are provided for free to humanity and anybody can read them, I intend to only reach a very tiny fraction of humanity with my writings, but that tiny fraction will be sufficient for my plan to succeed. The readers that I seek have a formidable task ahead of them, but nothing less is required for my approach to have any hope of bearing fruit. This essay and my other writings are intended as a course in (also called "big picture") thinking. Studying the details deeply enough to avoid misleading superficial understandings is also a key goal. I am an accountant by profession, but one of the world's leading paleobiologists surprisingly read an early draft of this essay and informed me that it was one of the best efforts that he ever saw on the journey of life on Earth. There was nobody on Earth whose opinion I would have respected more than his, so I do not think that I am asking readers of this essay's first half to humor me. Every sentient being on Earth should know the rudiments of what this essay's first half covers.

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.

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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.

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Paleobiologists are fascinated with the history of life on Earth, and I share their sense of wonder. If I can impart the slightest sense of that to my readers, this essay's first half will be successful for that alone. However, just as a math curriculum builds on itself, as each class forms the foundation of the next one, this essay's first half is intended to help readers develop a foundational understanding. With that foundation built, the information in this essay's last half can make a profound impact and help readers achieve personal paradigm shifts. That is essentially this essay's purpose. Studying this essay's first half is far from a waste of time for those whom I seek, but is vitally important.

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