Humans: The Planet-Altering Apes

Event Date (Pacific Time): 
Friday, May 13, 2022 - 12:00pm to 4:30pm
Event Chairs:

Ajit Varki, UC San Diego School of Medicine
Margaret Schoeninger, University of California, San Diego

This was an online-only event. Talks were recorded by UCSD-TV and will be posted on this page in the coming weeks. Follow this event page, as well as CARTA’s Facebook (@ucsdcarta) and Twitter (@CARTAUCSD) accounts for updates.

Summary:
CARTA is a broad-based coalition of scholars interested in defining and explaining the evolutionary origins of humans and in generating testable hypotheses and new agendas for research on this subject. CARTA public symposia emphasize our primary objectives –– to explore and explain where we humans came from, and how we got here. Given the focus on human origins, we generally limit discussions of current day implications and questions regarding the future of humanity.

However, we now feel the urgent moral and practical imperative to call attention to the long- and short-term impact of humans on the planet that we inhabit, and the consequences for the future of our species. Accordingly, on March 5, 2022, CARTA presented "Human Origins and Humanity's Future: Past, Present and Future of the Anthropocene,” co-chaired by Leslie Aiello (University College London) and Charles Kennel (Scripps Institution of Oceanography and University of Cambridge), which introduced discussion on the current age of human activity, coined the “Anthropocene.”

To elaborate upon and extend this discussion, this symposium will address specific examples of how humans have drastically altered the planet. Acknowledged experts will discuss clearly defined global-scale negative impacts on planet earth, our life support system (other than climate change, population growth and infectious diseases, which are well-known). Each talk will succinctly describe a specific impact, the role that our species has played, and conclude with ongoing or potential approaches to mitigation.

In the process, we are coming full circle to Anthropogeny, asking how a single species could have evolved the ability to so drastically alter the entire planet.

Funding for this symposium was provided by many generous CARTA donors, with additional support from CARTA Patrons Elizabeth Lancaster & Eli Shefter (in honor of The Bees); CARTA Friends Feroza Ardeshir & Suresh Subramani (in honor of Dr. Nissi M. Varki), Kathlyn Furr, and Pamela N. & Michael Swartout; as well as CARTA Supporters Kalvin Drake, Guy Miller, Christoph Roehrig, and John Sterling. Closed captioning for the recordings was made possible by CARTA Patrons Ingrid Benirschke-Perkins & Gordon Perkins.

Speaker Biographical Sketches can be found by clicking on the individual speaker names in the "Event Sessions" table below. Speakers have created brief "Speaker Spotlight" videos to introduce themselves and their talks. For written Abstracts, click on the sessions' names in the "Event Sessions" table.

Dr. Gerardo Ceballos introduces his talk "The Sixth Mass Extinction, the Tree of Life, and the Future of Humanity"

Dr. David Holway introduces his talk "Human Introduction and Dissemination of Invasive Species"

Dr. Oliver Ryder introduces his talk "Loss of Species, Loss of Genetic Variation, and the Future of Earth’s Biota"

Dr. Jessica Thompson introduces her talk "Human Transformation From Environmental Managers to Ecosystem Damagers"

Dr. Asher Rosinger introduces his talk "Anthropogenic Global Water Insecurity"

Dr. Rob Knight introduces his talk "Large-scale Human Modification of the Planetary Microbiome"

Dr. David Tilman introduces his talk "Environmental Impacts of Human Domination of the Global Nitrogen Cycle"

Dr. Walter Willett introduces his talk "How to Feed 10 Billion People"

Dr. Patricia Hunt introduces her talk "Humans vs. Humankind: Are human-made chemical pollutants impacting global fertility?"

Dr. Alice Gorman introduces her talk "Accumulating Space Debris and the Risk of Kessler Syndrome"

 
 

Event Sessions

Support Opportunities

Free CARTA Zoom Backgrounds

  • Gifts: We invite you to partner with us in CARTA’s quest to explore and explain the human phenomenon. CARTA connects us all – scientists and philosophers, students and teachers, people with questions and others with answers. The global CARTA community grows with each lecture that is experienced and passed forward via FREE access to UCSD-TV broadcasts and archived videos on multiple websites. Please email khunter@ucsd.edu for support opportunities, which have been modified due to the virtual format. Your gift to the CARTA Symposium Fund enables these valuable resources to remain free for everyone to attend and access online.
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Event Glossary

A glossary for this event is available as a Searchable List and a PDF icon PDF.