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City Passes Resolution to Strengthen Clean Air Act

City Passes Resolution to Strengthen Clean Air Act

Center for Biological Diversity

The Berkeley City Council unanimously passed a resolution in support of strengthening the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) use of the Clean Air Act to reduce carbon and other pollutants. This action was taken in the interest of public health and averting the worst effects of climate change. By passing the resolution, Berkeley becomes the latest city to join the Center for Biological Diversity’s national Clean Air Cities campaign.

“Local governments must act to protect their citizens and the health of their communities, especially now, as well-funded corporate lobbyists press Congress to weaken the EPA and its regulations,” said Berkeley Vice-Mayor and Council Member Linda Maio, who sponsored the resolution.

“Efforts by cities are even more important as the U.S. House tries to prevent long-overdue efforts to reduce mercury and other toxic metals, as well as smog and soot, from industrial boilers, solid waste incinerators and cement plants,” said Rose Braz, the center’s climate campaign director. “Cities give voice to our communities that favor using the best tool we have for curbing pollution and limiting global warming—the Clean Air Act.”

The center’s new Clean Air Cities campaign is working with volunteers around the country to encourage cities to pass resolutions supporting the Clean Air Act and using it to reduce carbon in the atmosphere to no more than 350 parts per million, the level scientists say is needed to avoid catastrophic climate change.

“The planet is telling us that we cannot afford to delay comprehensive reductions in CO2. The evidence is clear that we must begin to make those reductions now. Further delays are irresponsible and dangerous to all life on the planet," said Tom Kelly of KyotoUSA, which partnered with the center on the effort. “The resolution passed by the Berkeley City Council demonstrates to the federal government that citizens strongly support the use of the Clean Air Act to begin making those reductions.”

For more information, click here.

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The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 320,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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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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