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3,000+ New Yorkers Converge on Albany for Anti-Fracking, Pro-Renewables Rally

Energy
3,000+ New Yorkers Converge on Albany for Anti-Fracking, Pro-Renewables Rally

Frack Action

More than 3,000 New Yorkers took time off work yesterday to send a message to Albany that they want Gov. Cuomo and the state legislature to reject fracking and lead the nation in renewable energy. Organizers noted that the rally was larger than a similar rally at the State of the State address that kicked off the legislative session, indicative of the growth and momentum of the movement across the state. The second rally comes at the end of a legislative session that has included discussion of a two year fracking moratorium—which the Assembly passed overwhelmingly—and many, including Gov. Cuomo, have noted it would pass the Senate if allowed to come to the floor for a vote.

"Thousands of people here today are speaking for many more across the state with a simple call to Governor Cuomo: Ban fracking in New York," said Alex Beauchamp of Food & Water Watch. "They've seen the misery fracking has brought elsewhere—the accidents, the contamination and the devastating health effects—and they've learned the lessons. New Yorkers are fighting to keep their families safe and healthy, and they're sending a message that the oil and gas industry can and will be beaten back."

“The science is clear that fracking poses a serious threat to our health, the air we breathe and the water we drink,” said Julia Walsh of Frack Action on behalf of New Yorkers Against Fracking. “An unparalleled citizen uprising demands that Gov. Cuomo rejects fracking, and lead the nation by constructing a renewable energy economy here and now in New York. If he does, we stand ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work."

The New Yorkers Against Fracking rally and march, New York Crossroads, was co-sponsored by more than 130 New York and national organizations including Catskill Mountainkeeper, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, CREDO, Democracy for America, Environmental Advocates of New York, Environment NY, Food & Water Watch, Frack Action, New York State Breast Cancer Network, New York State Sustainable Business Council, Northeast Organic Farming Association, New York Public Interest Research Group, Riverkeeper, Save The Southern Tier, and the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. Speakers included former Congressman Maurice Hinchey, Lois Gibbs, Jim Dean of Democracy for America, Mark Jacobson, PhD, Arun Gandhi, Oren Lyons, Phil Aroneanu of 350.org and a musical performance by Natalie Merchant. 

While Gov. Cuomo has been weighing whether or not to allow fracking, the oil and gas industry and their supporters have poured millions of dollars into New York to lobby, influence elected officials and saturate the state with pro-fracking propaganda. Yet, fracking opponents outnumber and remain more determined than supporters, demonstrating that New Yorkers aren’t buying the oil and gas industry’s propaganda and how seriously they take this issue.

“Governor Cuomo, my toddler deserves to breathe clean air, drink clean water and inherit a healthy future," said Logan Adsit of Save The Southern Tier. "Say no to fracking and pioneer a renewable energy economy for New York that offers my child a chance at a better future in the state we love.”

“My neighborhood—Love Canal—became synonymous with the hazards of toxic waste,” said Lois Gibbs. “If Governor Cuomo goes forward with fracking, we could have hundreds or thousands of Love Canals. I’m here today to tell Governor Cuomo not to turn the state we love so dearly into a giant toxic disaster.”

“We are here to show Governor Cuomo once and for all that fracking is not a viable energy option for New York," said Jim Dean of Democracy for America. "We must fully embrace renewable energy resources, and stop fracking now. Governor Cuomo has the opportunity to lead not only New York, but also the nation by setting an example for those who face the same difficult choice."

Independent observers have noted that the gas industry cannot be trusted when it describes fracking as safe. A recent investigation by the Times Tribune in Pennsylvania revealed many cases of water contamination from fracking. And a recent study showed that fracking emits significant amounts of methane—a major contributor to climate change. One of the key messages of the rally is that fracking is disastrous for the climate and for Governor Cuomo to allow it would be a stark contradiction to his vow to lead on climate change.

"Hurricane Sandy, fueled by Atlantic waters that were five degrees warmer than normal, caused $60 billion in damage downstate, to a city that I love and call home," said Phil Aroneanu, U.S. campaign director and co-founder of 350.org. "It's time for all of us to stand up and say ‘We're not drowning, we're fighting.’ Gov. Cuomo, do the right thing: Open up New York to solar and wind, to geothermal and tidal power—don't let us drown."

Stanford University Professor Mark Jacobson, lead author of a peer-reviewed study detailing a plan for New York State to get to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030 said, "Converting to wind, water and sunlight is feasible, will stabilize costs of energy and will produce jobs while reducing health impacts and climate damage."

“Our brewery is growing 20 percent annually, creating good-paying jobs in Cooperstown,” said Larry Bennett of Ommegang Brewery. “But we depend on clean water to brew our beer. And if fracking comes to New York, we’ll either have to shut down or move away.”

“Fracking is not just a political issue,” said Reverend Bill Levering of the New York State Council of Churches. “It’s also a moral issue. It’s about protecting the common good from greed. And that is why the New York State Council of Churches opposes fracking.”

Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.

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The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.

But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

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