Human-Climate Interactions and Evolution: Past and Future

Event Dates: 
May 15, 2015 -
1:00pm to 5:30pm
Event Chairs:

Charles Kennel, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, UC San Diego
Rick Potts, Smithsonian Institution

Summary: Our early ancestors evolved on a drying, cooling, and highly variable planet, which has led to competing ideas as to how climate may have shaped human evolution. Equally compelling is the question of how and when humans began to affect their surroundings to such an extent as to become a force of climate change, with disruptions affecting the globe today. According to earth scientists, paleontologists, and scholars in other fields, the planet has entered a new geological phase – the Anthropocene, the age of humans. How did this transition of our species from an apelike ancestor in Africa to the current planetary force occur?  What are the prospects for the future of world climate, ecosystems, and our species? This symposium presents varied perspectives on these critical questions from earth scientists, ecologists, and paleoanthropologists.

Event Sessions

Media for each talk can be played by clicking on icons in the "Media" column, or by clicking on the individual talk titles below and then the attachment file at the bottom of the page.

Date Media Session Title Speakers
Fri 5/15 File Welcome Ajit Varki, UC San Diego School of Medicine
Fri 5/15 File Opening Remarks Charles Kennel, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, UC San Diego
Fri 5/15 File African Climate Change and Human Evolution Peter deMenocal, Columbia University
Fri 5/15 File The Climatic Framework of Neandertal Evolution Jean-Jacques Hublin, Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Fri 5/15 File Climate Instability and the Evolution of Human Adaptability Rick Potts, Smithsonian Institution
Fri 5/15 File Abrupt Climate Transitions and Humans Jeff Severinghaus, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, UC San Diego
Fri 5/15 File How Humans Took Control of Climate William Ruddiman, University of Virginia
Fri 5/15 File The Impacts of Arctic Sea Ice Retreat on Contemporary Climate Charles Kennel, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, UC San Diego
Fri 5/15 File A Tipping Point: Using the Past to Forecast Our Future Elizabeth Hadly, Stanford University
Fri 5/15 File Human Impacts: Will We Survive the Future? Naomi Oreskes, Harvard University
Fri 5/15 PDF icon
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Climate Change Mitigation: In Pursuit of the Common Good Veerabhadran Ramanathan, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, UC San Diego
Fri 5/15 File Wrap-up Rick Potts, Smithsonian Institution
Fri 5/15 File Question and Answer Session All Speakers
Fri 5/15 File Closing Remarks Margaret Schoeninger, University of California, San Diego