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This Is Why You Should Be a #ClimateVoter on Nov. 6

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This Is Why You Should Be a #ClimateVoter on Nov. 6
Dena Cooper / Ikon Images / Getty Images

With the midterms rapidly approaching, it's important to make your vote count in the most pressing issue of our time: climate change.

After a year of destructive hurricanes, killer flooding and devastating wildfires, 2018 is already on pace to be among the hottest years in recorded history. Earlier this month, top scientists urged drastic emissions cuts in order to avoid climate catastrophe. Meanwhile, we have lawmakers in office who are not taking these threats very seriously, deny the science, and encourage the use of planet-warming fossil fuels.


For all these reasons and more, Nov. 6, 2018 will be one of the most important elections yet. That's why Generation Progress and The Years Project have launched the Be a Climate Voter campaign to motivate Americans—especially the country's youngest voters—to head to the polls.

A recent ABC News poll found that most Americans believe the government should take action on global warming. Unsurprisingly, the generation growing up with the climate crisis and the ones who will have to deal with its worst effects after all the older voters are gone think the country should be doing more to fight global warming.

"Support for substantial government action ranges from 70 percent of those 18-39 to 54 percent of those 50-plus," the poll says. "Young people also are much more confident in such action, 71 vs. 48 percent; and more apt to see serious risks to the United States if it's not taken, 61 vs. 44 percent."

Kilan Bishop, a 26-year-old PhD student, has seen first-hand how flooding has adversely affected her community in Miami, Florida and will be voting with environmental justice in mind when she casts her ballot.

"Climate change used to feel like this big overwhelming threat, but this year I found something I can do about it—I'm a climate voter," she says in a Be a Climate Voter campaign video.

Thursday, Oct. 24, EcoWatch will host a Facebook Live at 12 p.m. EST featuring Bishop, who will share her experiences on the front-lines of climate change and highlight the importance of the youth vote. Join us on our Facebook home page.

If you care about clean air, water and preserving our precious natural resources we urge you to join the movement. Use the hashtag #ClimateVoter on Oct. 24 to share why you'll be voting with the planet in mind.

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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