More than any other technical innovation, the control of fire marked humanity’s rise. In his , Darwin called making fire humanity’s greatest achievement. The only possible exception that he noted was the invention of language. Even today, in our industrialized and technological world, almost all of our energy practices are merely more sophisticated ways of controlling fire. The initial control of fire was at once a social act, a mental act, and a technical act. Although making stone tools represented the big break between the human line and its ancestry, it only allowed apes to mimic what other animals could do. Stone tools represented artificial claws, teeth, and jaws of animals far larger and more capable than apes at killing and eating flesh and bones. Protohumans with stone tools could scavenge more effectively and maybe defend themselves and even attack others, but it was not initially different in kind from what other animals could do, and was a pathetically small advantage when their first stone tools were merely rocks with sharpened edges, about on the order of brass knuckles. Would you want to fend off a lion predation attack (and perhaps multiple lions) with a rock, and at night? Controlling fire was the radical break from all other organisms that ever lived on Earth.
My teachers from the first grade onward remarked on my fascination with nature. Science always came easily to me. A saw me trade my science studies for business studies in college, and that voice in my head led me to attempting to fulfil my . I left the path for applied science in the real world, and . In 2002, when I finished my website largely as it stands today, I longed to one day resume my math and science studies. Soon afterward, one of R. Buckminster Fuller's pupils remarked that my work was like Fuller's, helped crystallize the paradigm that I had been groping toward. When that paradigmatic view became clearer, I began the studies that resulted in this essay, and my efforts since 2007 were specifically directed toward writing it.
John Locke (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
For this essay’s purposes, the most important ecological understanding is that the Sun provides all of earthly life’s energy, either (all except nuclear-powered electric lights driving photosynthesis in greenhouses, as that energy came from dead stars). Today’s hydrocarbon energy that powers our industrial world comes from captured sunlight. Exciting electrons with photon energy, then stripping off electrons and protons and using their electric potential to power biochemical reactions, is what makes Earth’s ecosystems possible. Too little energy, and reactions will not happen (such as ice ages, enzyme poisoning, the darkness of night, food shortages, and lack of key nutrients that support biological reactions), and too much (such as , ionizing radiation, temperatures too high for enzyme activity), and life is damaged or destroyed. The journey of life on Earth has primarily been about adapting to varying energy conditions and finding levels where life can survive. For the many hypotheses about those ancient events and what really happened, the answers are always primarily in energy terms, such as how it was obtained, how it was preserved, and how it was used. For life scientists, that is always the framework, and they devote themselves to discovering how the energy game was played.