Category Archives: Science

The Art and Science of Atmospheric Rivers and the Changing Hydroclimate of the West

California’s unique geography, with some of the continent’s highest mountains situated close to the broad expanse of the Pacific Ocean helps make California’s precipitation regime the most volatile in the country. This volatility, characterized by large natural swings between drought and extremely rainy years make water resource management in California notoriously difficult. Global climate change is expected to exacerbate the volatility by decreasing the frequency of regional precipitation while increasing its intensity. Join meteorologist Alexander Gershunov to learn how he and other researchers quantify and analyze this volatility to understand the mechanisms behind these changes, and project their anticipated impacts on California.

Watch The Art and Science of Atmospheric Rivers and the Changing Hydroclimate of the West – Impacts of Climate Change in California and The West.

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Oxygen Loss in the Ocean: The Blinding Truth

Ocean oxygen levels are changing globally as a result of both natural and human-influenced processes, and in some areas low oxygen events are becoming more common. While research on terrestrial animals has shown that low oxygen levels can affect vision – a vital function for finding food and shelter and avoiding predators – the impact of low oxygen on marine life is much less well understood.

Join Scripps postdoctoral scholar Lillian McCormick for an in depth look at how and why oxygen is changing in the ocean and how her research is providing insight into the impacts of low oxygen on vision in marine invertebrates. Learn about her stunning new research results, her plans for future investigations and what we can do about oxygen decline in the ocean.

Watch Biological Impacts of Oxygen Loss in the Ocean: The Blinding Truth.

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Exploring The Human-Ape Paradox

CARTA’s Fall 2020 symposium, Comparative Anthropogeny: Exploring the Human Ape-Paradox, examines humans as a uniquely evolved, “biologically enculturated,” species as juxtaposed with our closest living relatives, the “great apes” (chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans). By definition, each species is unique as it represents the outcome of independent evolution. Yet, humans appear to be a remarkable outlier as we have numerous characteristics so far un-described in any other primate. Why should this be? Unlike other species, the evident animal nature of humans is interwoven with a distinctly human cultural fabric, forming the paradox of “biological enculturation”: a species that is both “biologically cultural” and “culturally biological.” In humans, “biological enculturation” is so pervasive that disentangling the cultural and biological components is impossible.

This symposium brings together experts in various disciplines from around the globe to address several important distinctly human “biologically enculturated” characteristics, both in relation to each other and in contrast to our evolutionary cousins. They explore transdisciplinary interactions and generate new, potentially unexplored, insights into uniquely-human specializations.

Given the interest in understanding our evolution, this symposium also helps organize how and in what sequence distinctly human physical, mental, social, and cultural features evolved. Such understanding may help explain the origin of our species and how it came to now directly shape the planet, giving rise to the Anthropocene, the epoch of human influence on climate and the environment.

Browse more programs in CARTA – Comparative Anthropogeny – Exploring The Human-Ape Paradox.

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Scientific and Social Activism

Please join us for an intimate discussion with eminent microbiologist and geneticist Jon Beckwith of Harvard Medical School. Beckwith is the author of Making Genes, Making Waves: A Social Activist in Science. He discusses the history of scientific and social activism and the teaching of social issues in biology.

Along with having a successful scientific career, Jon Beckwith has been one of the scientific community’s most influential champions of social justice and civil liberties. He has openly supported the Black Panther Movement and was among the first in his field to warn the world about the danger of genetic engineering. He has over 50 publications dealing with issues such as discrimination and misuse of behavior genetics. He was a member of the Working Group on Ethical, Legal and Social Implications committee of the Human Genome Project and was an important organizer of the international organization, Science for the People. Since 1983, he has taught a course on Social Issues in Biology at Harvard University, one of the first courses of its kind.

Watch A Deep Conversation with Jon Beckwith: A History of Scientific and Social Activism and the Teaching of Social Issues in Biology.

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Bending the Curve: Climate Change Solutions

Climate change is an urgent problem that affects everything from human health and food security to immigration patterns and water resources.

With unchecked emissions of climate pollutants, there is a 50% probability for the planetary warming to cross the so-called dangerous threshold of 20C by 2050; and there is at least a 5% probability the warming can exceed a catastrophic 60C in about 80+ years.

Climate scientists study more than Earth’s changing climate. They are an integral part of coming up with solutions for both mitigating and adapting to these human-caused changes. Join world renowned scientist Ram Ramanathan for insight into a multifaceted education program, Bending the Curve, which inspires action on climate solutions. The groundbreaking program is offered at all University of California campuses and internationally. Learn how he and colleagues around the world are educating students at every level to become climate warriors.

Watch Bending the Curve: Climate Change Solutions.

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