Significant Energy Events in Earth's and Life's History as of 2014

The grew , and there were no more island barriers on the Tethys’s east end. The was finally squeezed out of existence by islands that became part of Eurasia. The shallow margins of the Tethys became the greatest oil source in Earth’s history. The and Paleo-Tethys oceans also formed oil deposits, but about initially formed during the Mesozoic’s anoxic events, primarily along the Tethys’s margins. In the Middle East, Caspian Sea, Western Russia, North Africa, Gulf of Mexico, and Venezuela virtually all of the oil deposits were laid down by dying and preserved organisms along Tethyan shores. In the early Triassic, along the west end of what became North America, oceanic plate subduction under continental plates that continue to this day. The foundations of the Sierra Nevada mountain range were formed then. I have spent .

A number of acronyms in this essay are not commonly used and at least one is unique to my work.

Key events in the popular story of Jesus's life, such as the virgin birth and resurrection, were already circulating in other religions of the day. There is little evidence that Muhammad existed, and if he did, he probably lived around Jerusalem, not on the Arabian Peninsula. After a career of archeological investigation in the region where the Biblical Israel was founded, one anthropologist likened the Hebrew Bible to propaganda with tiny bits of historical truth in it, as facts are needed to help people swallow fanciful stories. To modern observers not under the , tales of people living to be nearly a thousand (), or more than 40,000 years () are not taken seriously. But literalist interpretations of ancient texts abound, whether they come from religious fundamentalists or scholars such as and who tried to explain mythical events as if ancient texts depicted literal truth. Promoting is a major component of how modern populations are controlled.


c. 4.6 billion years ago (“bya”)

Menkaure flanked by Hathor (left) and nome goddess (Egyptian Museum, Cairo)

The diagrams used in this chapter are only intended to provide a glimpse of the incredible complexity of structure and chemistry that takes place at the microscopic level in organisms, and people can be forgiven for doubting that it is all a miraculous accident. I doubt it, too, as . Prokaryotes do not have organelles such as mitochondria, chloroplasts, and nuclei, but even the simplest cell is a marvel of complexity. If we could shrink ourselves so that we could stand inside an average bacterium, we would be astounded at its complexity, as molecules move here and there, are brought inside the bacterium’s membrane, used to generate energy and build structures, and waste products are ejected from the organism. Cellular division would be an amazing sight.


Precursor to dominant land animals.

Some bacteria use Photosystem I and some use Photosystem II. More than two bya, and maybe more than three bya, cyanobacteria used both, and a miraculous instance of innovation tied them together. were then used to strip electrons from water. Although the issue is still controversial regarding when it happened and how, that instance of cyanobacteria's using manganese to strip electrons from water is responsible for oxygenic photosynthesis. It seems that some enzymes that use manganese may have been "drafted" into forming the manganese cluster responsible for splitting water in oxygenic photosynthesis. Water is not an easy molecule to strip an electron from, a single cyanobacterium seems to have “stumbled” into it, and it probably happened only . Once an electron was stripped away from water in Photosystem I, then stripping away a proton (a hydrogen nucleus) essentially removed one hydrogen atom from the water molecule. That proton was then used to drive a “turbine” that manufactures ATP, and wonderful show how those protons drive that enzyme turbine (). Oxygen is a waste product of that innovative ATP factory.

Ability to survive in dry lands.

About the time that the continents began to grow and began, Earth produced its first known glaciers, between 3.0 and 2.9 bya, although the full extent is unknown. It might have been an ice age or merely some mountain glaciation. The , and numerous competing hypotheses try to explain what produced them. Because the evidence is relatively thin, there is also controversy about the extent of Earth's ice ages. About 2.5 bya, the Sun was probably a little smaller and only about as bright as it is today, and Earth would have been a block of ice if not for the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide and methane that absorbed electromagnetic radiation, particularly in the . But life may well have been involved, particularly oxygenic photosynthesis, and it was almost certainly involved in Earth's first great ice age, which may have been a episode, and some pertinent dynamics follow.

Ability to make tree-stored energy available to ecosystems.

As oxygenic photosynthesis spread through the oceans, everything that could be oxidized by oxygen was, during what is called the (“GOE”), although there may have been multiple dramatic events. The event began as long as three bya and is . The ancient carbon cycle included volcanoes spewing a number of gases into the atmosphere, including hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, and hydrogen, but carbon dioxide was particularly important. When the continents began forming, carbon dioxide was removed from the atmosphere via water capturing it, , the carbon became combined into calcium carbonate, and plate tectonics subducted the calcium carbonate in the ocean sediments into the crust, which was again released as carbon dioxide in volcanoes.