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Science has achieved tremendous success over the centuries, partly because the complexities of the Earth, the physical processes that sustain the planet, and the enormity of life were separated into disparate fields of study—mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, and geology, to name only a few. Scientific compartmentalization was initially necessary to impart enough focus to make progress on complicated issues. However, as the knowledge base grew, it became more and more difficult to separate life and the history of the Earth, and vice versa. We now understand that to investigate the Earth's surface as an abiologic system is folly: Life and...

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