Threats of Climate Change

We are all exposed to the consequences of climate change but some populations are more vulnerable than others. In these presentations three UCSF doctors explore the impact on maternal and child health, and the health of older people.

Dr. Tracey Woodruff explores climate, pollution, and prenatal and child health. Climate change worsens air pollution and extreme weather which can have severe impacts on health during and after pregnancy. Prenatal exposure to air pollutants can increase the risk of preterm birth, low birthweight and stillbirth. Air pollution is also associated with heart birth defects, autism, and neurodevelopmental delays along with pre-eclampsia and hypertension during pregnancy, a leading cause of maternal death. She argues that public policy is necessary to create lasting and fair solutions for all.

Dr. Pooja Singal focuses on children’s unique vulnerability to climate change. She notes that worldwide 1 in 5 deaths each year occurs in a child under 5. Children have greater exposure – they breathe more air, drink more water and eat more food per unit of body weight compared to adults. They also spend more time outside, contact the ground frequently and put their hands in their mouths more. Because childhood is a unique window of development, effects of malnutrition, toxins and pollutants are heightened. Children are also less able to understand what to do and are reliant on caregivers and the context in which they live.

Dr. Anna Chodors looks at the special risks to older adults. From wildfires to extreme heat and flooding, the elderly are disproportionally affected. In part this is due to physiological changes associated with aging and the associated biological vulnerabilities. Social vulnerabilities such as poverty, isolation and the digital divide contribute to their exposure.

Dr. Chodros encourages you to be aware of local weather conditions, understand that medications and health conditions can increase vulnerability, and make a plan to handle emergency situations.

Dr. Dan Lowenstein then encourages us to take climate change seriously because it is the existential crisis of our time.

Watch Climate Change: The Special Risks to Children, Pregnant Women and Older Adults .

The Red Tide of 2020

With a confluence of unusual ocean conditions during the early spring of 2020, glowing blue waves wowed the world during Southern California’s recent history-making red tide event. But waves were only the stimulus and conveyance for what was really glowing in the ocean.

Join Scripps Institution of Oceanography bioluminescence expert Mike Latz and dive into the world of living light, get an insider’s look at the most recent red tide event, learn why scientists still have so many questions about this natural phenomenon, and get some insight into how Mike was compelled to dedicate much of his oceanographic career to understanding this bioluminescent event.

Watch The Red Tide of 2020.

Snakes of Knowledge

Los Angeles-based artist Alexis Smith has a long and fruitful association with UC San Diego’s Stuart Collection. Her Snake Path installation outside the University’s Geisel Library, completed in 1992, has become iconic in the campus landscape. Smith’s monumental mural Same Old Paradise marks a welcome return to the Collection.

The mural is a collage that takes its title from the narrator of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, Sal Paradise, whose compulsive cross-country travels immortalized the restlessness of a generation. The work consists of eight collages superimposed on a 22-foot by 62-foot muslin backdrop. The backdrop of the collage is an idealized landscape of California orange groves, based on images used since the 1930s to decorate orange crates. As is typical of Smith’s multitextural approach, images derive from many sources, including Hollywood advertising, billboards, and road signs. The text comes from such favored writers as Kerouac, Jack London, John Dos Passos, and Raymond Chandler (the quintessential L.A. scribe). Smith had previously incorporated quotes from Thomas Gray’s “Ode on Prospect of Eton College” and John Milton’s “Paradise Lost” in Snake Path.

Same Old Paradise was exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum in 1987, and subsequently crated and stored. Packed away, the original had been unseen until Stuart Collection offered the mural a permanent home at UC San Diego, an offer that Alexis Smith happily accepted. The sheer size of the work proved a challenge to finding a suitable site, but after patient searching a home was found in the auditorium at the University’s new North Torey Pines Living and Learning Center, slated to be opened in 2021.

Anthony Graham, Associate Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) and an authority on Alexis Smith’s work, joins Stuart Collection’s Mary Beebe and Mathieu Gregoire to explore Smith’s collaborations with the Collection in the larger context of her career. The trio note that both Snake Path and Same Old Paradise feature “the Snake of Knowledge,” alluding to the Garden of Eden and the loss of innocence that accompanies life experience. Other prominent themes include the impact of Hollywood on American culture, California’s status as a mythic state of mind, the ideological underpinnings of mass culture, and Smith’s ironic, occasionally incongruent usage of stereotypes from recent American history (e.g., Marilyn Monroe) in her work. Graham also discusses the upcoming exhibition he’s putting together for MCASD, a comprehensive look at the fifty-year span of Alexis Smith’s creative life.

Watch Alexis Smith: Snake Path & Same Old Paradise.

AI and the Brain

Artificial intelligence, or AI, is no longer the domain of science fiction. It has become a major part of our daily lives. Ever ask Alexa to play you a song? Booked a trip online? Received customer service through chat? AI powers those interactions and is now being integrated into biological challenges.

Terry Sejnowski, Professor and Laboratory Head at the Salk Institute, uses computer modeling techniques to better understand how brain cells process, sort and store information. This line of study is creating a link between the biology of the brain and AI. As this line of inquiry evolves, questions about privacy, bias and more arise. Sejnowski explores the current reach of AI, implications for the future, and how researchers are answering the ethical dilemmas associated with AI.

Watch The Deep Learning Revolution.

CARTA: The Impact of Infectious Disease on Humans and Our Origins

As humanity experiences an epic upheaval with the Novel Coronavirus pandemic, we are painfully admonished of how throughout existence, infectious diseases have had profound influences on the evolution of their host populations.

In the case of humans, the host species has also shaped pathogen dynamics and virulence via a multitude of factors. Some ancient factors range from changes in social organization, group size, and exploitation of varied habitats and their animals and plant resources. More recently, developments including settlement, agriculture, technology, rapid long-distance travel, medicine and global economic integration continue to shape epidemics and the human host populations.

We are witnessing the results of all these factors playing out before us as we struggle with this pandemic.

Browse more programs in CARTA Presents: The Impact of Infectious Disease on Humans and our Origins.