The Evolution of Human Skin

8232While 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.

Understand Climate Change – and What You Can Do About It

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.

8232Climate 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.

8232What 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.

8232CARTA: 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.

CARTA: Human-Climate Interactions and Evolution – Past and Future

8232The 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.

How did language evolve? New CARTA series explores the evolution of language.

8232Language. In all its forms. We use it everyday, all the time, without thinking, as innately (we might think) as a bird sings…

But the acquisition of this human capacity is a long and complex process, aided by neuro- and physiological specialization born out of the forge of evolution. So when you stop and think a moment, language poses many mysteries.

This new CARTA symposium brings together the world’s top experts in many facets of language to address those and other questions. When and how does language develop structure? What can the differences between old and new, spoken and sign languages, tell us about the evolution of language? Why and how does language evolve over time? And how have our brains evolved both with and for the purpose of language?

Watch this fascinating series on one of humanity’s essential elements: CARTA: How Language Evolves.

Why are we violent?

786As CARTA co-director Ajit Varki so aptly put it in his concluding remarks, “It was an intellectually stimulating and fascinating but deeply disturbing symposium.”

From interactions in lions and our hominid cousins the chimpanzees, to our Pleistocene ancestors and early human cultures to modern society, CARTA gathered scientists across the spectrum from neurophysiology to sociology to bring their respective microscopes to bear upon the question of aggression within the human species, its role in our development, its causes and its consequences.

While the data are at times grim, disturbing and depressing, it is an important look at an inescapable (or is it?) feature of human evolution, the use of aggression and violence.

Hopefully, if one can remain dispassionate, we are led to ask, can it evolve out of us?

Watch the latest programs from CARTA on Male Aggression and Violence in Human Evolution to learn more.