This chapter falls at about this essay's midpoint, and humanity's role in this story has yet to be told. As I conceived this essay, studied for it, wrote it, edited it, and had numerous allies help out, an issue repeatedly arose regarding the half of this essay just completed, and can be summarized with: "What was the point?" Not everybody asked it and some understood, but others wondered openly and sometimes subtly what the purpose of this essay's first half was (and some asked if the essay had any point at all and considered my effort a waste of time). This chapter is my reply, and I think it is important to understand.
So far in this essay, mammals have received scant attention, but the mammals’ development before the Cenozoic is important for understanding their rise to dominance. The , called , first , about 260 mya, and they had key mammalian characteristics. Their jaws and teeth were markedly different from those of other reptiles; their teeth were specialized for more thorough chewing, which extracts more energy from food, and that was likely a key aspect of success more than 100 million years later. Cynodonts also developed a secondary palate so that they could chew and breathe at the same time, which was more energy efficient. Cynodonts eventually ceased the reptilian practice of continually growing and shedding teeth, and their specialized and precisely fitted teeth rarely changed. Mammals replace their teeth a . Along with tooth changes, jawbones changed roles. Fewer and stronger bones anchored the jaw, which allowed for stronger jaw musculature and led to the mammalian (clench your teeth and you can feel your masseter muscle). Bones previously anchoring the jaw were no longer needed and . The jaw’s rearrangement led to the most auspicious proto-mammalian development: . Mammals had relatively large brains from the very beginning and it was probably initially . Mammals are the only animals with a , which eventually led to human intelligence. As dinosaurian dominance drove mammals to the margins, where they lived underground and emerged to feed at night, mammals needed improved senses to survive, and auditory and olfactory senses heightened, as did the mammalian sense of touch. Increased processing of stimuli required a larger brain, and . In humans, only livers use more energy than brains. Cynodonts also had , which suggest that they were warm-blooded. Soon after the Permian extinction, a cynodont appeared that may have ; it was another respiratory innovation that served it well in those low-oxygen times, functioning like pump gills in aquatic environments.
We think the answer to this question is 'Yes.' Despite consideration of their long lifetime, it is important to realize that the most vulnerable phase of trees remains their seedling and sapling stage.
In the mid-Miocene cooling’s early stages, beginning about 14 mya, apes were richly spread across Eurasia and were adapted to the hardier diets that less-tropical biomes could provide, and one from Spain 13 mya . It largely lived on the ground and had a relatively upright posture. Its discovery threw previously accepted ideas of ape evolution into disarray. The idea of apes ancestral to humanity living beyond Africa is a recent one, but is gaining acceptance. Important new fossils are found with regularity, as with all areas of paleontology, but the most plentiful funding is for investigating human ancestry. A , with features common to both orangutans and African apes, led to questioning whether some key ape features are ancestral or . One early finding is still highly controversial as to where it fits into the evolutionary tree, as it had ape and monkey features but lived 10 million years after the hypothesized ape/monkey split. The great ape lineages are the subject of considerable controversy today, and the human ancestral tree is regularly shaken up with new findings.
Perhaps most importantly, the limitation that bioclimate envelope models project the realized niche and not the fundamental niche of tree species turns out to be an advantage in a reforestation context.
No-analogue climates may demand development of no-analogue, designer, or "neonative" plantations in which trees are selected for their potential to combine compatible functional effect and response traits (SchererLorenzen et al., 2007).
One major problem with making a positive impact on a global level, ultra-elite machinations aside, is that almost nobody focuses on what is important, which I hope to help remedy with this essay. Almost everybody hacks at branches if they hack at all. Conspiracists tend to obsess on elite machinations, which is an exercise of dubious benefit to begin with, but they often become paranoid and also confuse retail elites or other interests with the GCs. Bill Gates and David Rockefeller are probably not members of the GCs’ organization. Also, I learned that ultra-elites can only play their games with the responsibility that almost all people have abdicated as they play the victim. The GCs are only a symptom of our malaise, not a cause. They cannot be beaten at their game, and it is counterproductive and can even be suicidal to try. Making them obsolete is probably the best that we can do. While conspiracists often fixate on ultra-elite machinations, intellectuals, academics, and scientists tend to deny that such activities even exist or are meaningful. It took me many years to understand their resistance to even acknowledging ultra-elite existence, and I think it partly relates to the mainstream scientific worldview that . They have an ideological aversion to the notion that anybody manipulates events on a global scale, and believe that what seems conspiratorial is only anarchic elites competing with each other, which is like Darwin’s view of evolution. They believe that conspiracists see a pattern where none exists, or that the situation can be explained without invoking conscious intent, like materialistic hypotheses of how the universe operates. Radical leftists have to the of such elites; such an idea scares them. Neither obsession nor denial helps people attain productive understandings of the issue. Conspiracists and structuralists are united in thinking like victims, and that, as I see it, . Until they relinquish thinking like a victim, they will not constructively engage the critical issues that humanity faces, and energy ranks above all else. Victims are reactive instead of proactive, and only and resulting action has a prayer of working, in my opinion.
In 63 BCE, a conspiracy to overthrow the Republic was exposed by , and in 60 BCE the was formed and its three members, including , all came to violent ends; then the Roman civil wars began in earnest. The Second Triumvirate was formed in 43 BCE, and included and , of fame. After Augustus defeated Mark Antony and Cleopatra’s fleet in the in 31 BCE, the Roman Republic ended and Rome became an empire, the greatest that humanity has known. At its height, it governed a quarter of humanity. From the to the , Rome as a republic or empire lasted for nearly two millennia. Its impact on Western Civilization, and hence the world, has been incalculable. There are far too many important lessons to be learned from the Roman experience than this essay can explore, but I will try to keep the lessons within this essay’s theme and purpose, which is humanity’s relationship to energy and our collective future.
Although our species, (named if we consider that Neanderthals and an are subspecies of but I will use in this essay to denote today’s humans), is the only survivor of the past several million years of human-line evolution, many of our cousins and ancestors were recognizably human. When did language begin, especially spoken language? Language certainly predated the appearance of . All great apes readily learn sign language, and even when monkeys chatter, the , and there is plenty of evidence that great ape vocalizations can . The and their corvid cousins can be hard to believe; they can solve some problems better than great apes can, and birds do not have a neocortex, but seems to function like the neocortex does. Becoming that began to . If fossils are sufficiently preserved, important anatomical features can provide key evidence for human abilities and behaviors. Turkana Boy, for instance, had his inner ear, which is responsible for balance, preserved well enough so that it provided more evidence that he did not spend time in trees (it is larger in primates that regularly climb). Similarly, the , which succeeded , apparently enabled keener hearing than its predecessors were capable of, and may have reflected the beginnings of spoken language. There is strong evidence that . As with many other human traits, the potential for language seems to have existed with monkeys (), and it kept developing more sophistication over vast stretches of time, and structural and cognitive changes interacted as human language developed into today’s version.
What is fire? That may seem too-elementary a question, but understanding what it is and where it came from is vitally important for understanding the human journey. The first fires were the quick release of stored sunlight energy that life forms, plants in that instance, had used to build themselves as they made their “decisions,” and it was from vegetation that recently died and was dry enough to burn. The energy was released from burning so fast that it became far hotter (because the molecules were violently "pushed" by the reaction that also released photons) than the biological process of making animals warm-blooded. Hot enough in fact that the released photons' (energetic enough) so that human eyes could see them, in a phenomenon called flames. Flames are visible side-effects of that intense energy release. The rapid movement of the molecules as they rocketed due to that great release of energy is the motion that powers the industrial age. Those rocketing molecules move pistons in automobile engines and , and are behind the damaging explosions of bombs and the propulsive explosions of rockets. For more than one million years, all human fires were made by burning vegetation, and wood in particular. What was fire doing? Energy stored by plants, trees in particular, was violently released by controlled fires for human-serving purposes of warmth, light, food preparation (to obtain more energy from food) and protection from predation, and it also became the heart of social gatherings. Humans have stared into fires for a million years or more.