Despite discoveries of remarkable new fossils in recent years, the evolutionary events surrounding the origins of genus Homo are incompletely understood.
This fascinating CARTA symposium explores evidence bearing on the emergence of our genus. What forces caused the changes in diet and body form as our predecessors evolved toward Homo. Were there forces from within on the molecular scale? Or changes in environment and climate? How did an integrated suite of behaviors, collectively termed hunting and gathering, that emerged sometime between 3 and 2 million years ago affect changes that spurred evolution towards the characteristics which are all associated with our human lineage?
Watch as a diverse cadre of experts from around the world present their observations on the Origins of Genus Homo.
Browse all episodes in CARTA: Origins of Genus Homo
Is the capacity for ethics—the proclivity to judge human actions as either right or wrong—determined by the biological nature of human beings? And, are the systems or codes of ethical norms accepted by human beings biologically determined?
In this fascinating and thought-provoking presentation, Templeton prize recipient and eminent evolutionary biologist and philosopher Francisco J. Ayala proposes that the moral evaluation of actions emerges from human rationality and thus it is a necessary implication of our biological make-up. But the norms according to which we decide which actions are good and which actions are evil are largely culturally determined, although conditioned by biological predispositions, such as parental care.
Watch CARTA: Francisco Ayala: Evolution of Ethical Behavior and Moral Values: Biology? Culture?.
If you enjoyed this program, browse more evolution programs in the extensive CARTA archives.
While we know much about the structure and function of our skin and the evolution of skin pigmentation, there is much left to learn. How is it that while our mammalian cousins are furry, we are virtually naked and we sweat like we do? And how is it that some of those sweat glands evolved into mammary organs?
This symposium brings together scientists representing evolutionary biology, genetics, dermatology, anthropology, and physiology to share their knowledge and questions about the evolution of human skin and its many purposes.
Check out all of the videos in CARTA’s latest series, The Unique Features of Human Skin.
Learn more about climate change with new programs that examine its impact from a variety of perspectives. Discover how humans and climate interact and affect one another, learn what you can do to reduce greenhouse emissions, and get a behind-the-scenes look at the Pope’s call to protect the environment.
Climate Change, Consumerism and the Pope with Daniel Kammen and Jennifer Granholm
After being summoned to the Vatican to advise on climate change, Dan Kammen of UC Berkeley shares an insider’s view on what inspired Pope Francis to issue such a passionate plea to protect the earth in Laudato Si, his 2015 encyclical on the environment. As a practicing Catholic, former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm praises the Pope for presenting “human ecology” as a moral issue in this lively exchange with Kammen and Henry E. Brady, dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley.
Watch Climate Change, Consumerism and the Pope with Daniel Kammen and Jennifer Granholm.
What Are You Going to Do About It? The Effect of Uncertainty on Climate Change Policy
Taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions imposes costs now in order to avoid potentially very large costs from more severe climate change in the future. Steve Polasky, Professor of Ecological/Environmental Economics University of Minnesota, reviews major sources of uncertainty and how that alters the choice of optimal climate change policy. He discusses current debates on how best to frame climate change policy, and whether it should be framed as setting limits on greenhouse gas concentrations to avoid potentially catastrophic damages or as an application of benefit-cost analysis.
Watch What Are You Going to Do About It? The Effect of Uncertainty on Climate Change Policy.
CARTA: Human-Climate Interactions and Evolution: Past and Future
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.
Watch CARTA: Human-Climate Interactions and Evolution: Past and Future.
The existence of Beringia had a great impact on the spread of the human species only 16,000 years ago – and not long after, climatic periods like the Medieval megadroughts extending into the second millennium moved Vikings to Greenland, vineyards to England and played a role in the collapse of the Inca and Anasazi cultures.
And all this before humans took a role in shaping climate.
Now, 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?
In May, CARTA (The Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny) gathered the world’s foremost earth scientists, ecologists, and paleoanthropologists to address these questions – and with mostly dreadfully sobering evidence, they place the future of the planet squarely, and irretrievably, in our hands.
Watch Human-Climate Interactions and Evolution – Past and Future.