Humans: The Planet-Altering Apes
Access to the live webcast for this symposium will be provided here on Friday, May 13 starting at 12:00 PM (Pacific Time). Viewers will need to be logged into their user account to gain access, but are not required to register for this symposium.
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. To avoid distractions from these intellectual goals, we generally limit discussions of current day implications and the question of where we are going as a species. 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, the Winter 2022 symposium co-chaired by Leslie Aiello and Charles Kennel will be on "Human Origins and Humanity's Future: Past, Present and Future of the Anthropocene”. As a follow-up to that event, we are planning a Spring 2022 Symposium in which experts will address specific examples of how humans have drastically altered the planet, mentioning attempts to mitigate our negative impact. We will intentionally not discuss the much rarer examples wherein humans are doing positive things to improve our impact, as such examples tend to trigger unjustified hope. Depressing as it may seem, it is time for “legitimate fear-mongering” (a deliberately provocative term intended to get attention), not just about our impact on global climate or pandemic infections (subjects of prior symposia) or other well-known factors like population growth, but also on many other aspects of the planet. In the process, we are actually coming full circle to Anthropogeny, asking how a single species could have evolved the ability to so drastically alter the entire planet. Acknowledged experts will discuss clearly defined global-scale negative impacts on the planet (other than climate change, population growth and infectious diseases, which we have addressed earlier)––each talk succinctly describing a specific impact, the role that our species has played, and concluding with ongoing or potential approaches to mitigation.
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