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5 Powerful Voices Talk Climate Action

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5 Powerful Voices Talk Climate Action

At its root, the formula for a great dinner party is pretty simple: find a bunch of people with unique and interesting perspectives, bring them together, ask a few questions and get them talking. You don’t know what exactly will happen—and that’s part of the fun.

We took the same approach with a Twitter chat we held a few weeks ago, inviting a group of some pretty impressive (if we do say so ourselves) activists and media professionals with distinct points of view on the state of climate action today to join us and get talking.

So Who Was at the Table?

  • Sam Champion, America’s most-watched weather anchor and managing editor at The Weather Channel.
  • Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, youth director of Earth Guardians and all-around climate hero (he gave an incredible and powerful speech at the UN General Assembly earlier this year, in case you missed it).
  • Vanessa Hauc, an Emmy Award-winning journalist for the Telemundo Network and co-founder of Sachamama, an organization committed to educating and empowering the Latino community on the importance of preserving the planet.
  • Harriet Shugarman, Climate Reality Leader and executive director of Climate Mama, an organization focused on educating and engaging families in the movement for climate solutions.
  • Sergio Carlo, actor, radio host, and soon-to-be Climate Reality Leader (he’ll be joining us in Miami for our training taking place Sept. 28-30).

So What Did They Talk About?

When you get five strong voices like these together, you can easily cover a lot of ground. We’re headed to Florida to train new Climate Reality Leaders this month. And in Florida, state employees were allegedly told not to say the words “climate change” in public. Of course, we’re going to be training these new leaders how to effectively say “climate change” in public online, in the media, and pretty much everywhere else.

With that in mind, we wanted to get these five talking about what they know best—strategies for getting loud about climate change, even when it’s considered rebellious or difficult. We know that facing climate change can sometimes feel overwhelming, but the good news is that there are a lot of really smart people facing it together and sometimes you just have to take the first step. And with that, it was time to get on to the questions.

First, we wanted to know: Can one person make a difference in combatting climate change?

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Why do you think people deny climate change, especially in places at higher risk like Florida?

Are there some communities that are impacted more by climate change than others?

At #CrinFlorida (The upcoming Climate Reality training in Miami, Florida), one of our themes is Latinos raising their voices on climate change—which is exciting. Why is climate change an important issue for Latinos?

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What are they top three things people can do to help solve climate change?

The news can be gloomy sometimes. What keeps you going as you work on climate?

A lot of progress has been made this year. What give you #ClimateHope for the future?

And with that, we had to wrap it up. Even the greatest dinner parties and conversations have to come to a close eventually. But talking with thoughtful and committed activists like our five guests and watching the creative ways they’re working for climate solutions—from bringing climate consciousness to hip-hop to speaking on the issue through the media to addressing world leaders at the UN to reaching out to families—gives us a whole lot of #ClimateHope and we’re hungry to come back for seconds.

If there was one thing to take away from the chat, it’s the simple message that one person can do so much. Anyone can take climate action today and if you’re ready to make a real difference, join us as a Climate Reality Leader at an upcoming training.

Visit the Climate Reality Leadership Corps page to stay updated on future trainings. With a global deal to limit greenhouse gas emissions on the table at the UN’s climate conference in Paris this year, it's more important than ever that we build strong public support so world leaders know: we want a clean, healthy, and prosperous future—and getting there starts with stopping climate change.

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A net-casting ogre-faced spider. CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics / CC BY-SA 3.0

Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

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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