Climate change threatens to undermine global prosperity and inflict significant social, economic and environmental costs on the world, according to a global coalition of companies who issued an urgent call to action to governments around the world.
Shell, Unilever, Tesco, Johnson and Johnson, Ricoh, Cemex, Proctor & Gamble, Nedbank and Vale are among more than 175 companies from 29 countries endorsing the 2˚C Challenge Communiqué, which calls on governments to agree to a robust, equitable and effective agreement on climate change at the United Nations meeting in Durban, South Africa, this December.
Without such a deal, business will have insufficient clarity or certainty of action to invest to its full potential, according to the statement. Time is running out to keep global warming under 2°C and, if they fail to act, governments risk permanent damage to their credibility. However, the right action would secure a low carbon-emission economy that is more resilient, more efficient and less vulnerable to global shock.
The communiqué will be launched in a number of cities around the world—including London, Brussels, Sao Paulo, Ankara, Turkey and Johannesburg—by members of the Corporate Leaders’ Network for Climate Action. The aim is to influence governments ahead of the 17th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) this December in Durban.
Speaking ahead of the launch, the Chair of the UNFCCC negotiations Christiana Figueres said, "Governments have already established a clear, collective path to a low-carbon future but the world will need to cut emissions faster in the coming years to meet the full challenge of climate change. The companies endorsing the 2˚C Challenge Communiqué set a great example. Corporate leadership that provides powerful vocal support for action gives governments the greater confidence they need to move forward a global climate change agreement that will ultimately cover the current ambition gap."
As well as a reiterating strong support for a global deal, the companies endorsing the communiqué challenge governments to take immediate action at the national level. They agree that we cannot, and should not, wait for a new international treaty to be in place, but must adopt national policies and measures that ultimately drive action now.
Among the specific policy actions that companies are calling on all countries to adopt are:
- A carbon price sufficient to drive necessary emissions reductions
- Effective adaptation programs
- Increased funding for innovation, investment and low-carbon development
- Help for businesses and consumers to cut emissions by using energy more efficiently
- Targeted regulation and procurement, together with new thinking on intellectual property rights to encourage low-carbon innovation
- Action to conserve and increase forests and other land-based carbon sinks
- International agreement to establish and maintain strong institutions including a reformed Clean Development Mechanism and an operationalized Green Climate Fund
- An end to fossil fuel subsidies.
The 2˚C Challenge Communiqué was produced by business leaders from a range of sectors including energy, finance, retail, and manufacturing, via the newly established Corporate Leaders’ Network for Climate Action (CLN). The CLN includes groups from Brazil, Chile, the EU, U.S., Hong Kong, Mexico, Southeast Asia and South Africa. The communiqué is the fifth in a series of statements initiated by The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders’ Group on Climate Change and managed and developed by the University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership.
Eliot Whittington, director of The Prince of Wales’s UK Corporate Leaders’ Group on Climate Change said, “The expansion of the network to include business groups from other countries shows that, far from losing interest in climate change as an issue, there is an emerging and increasingly international consensus amongst enlightened corporate leaders of the need for urgent action. We will be taking signatures up to June next year and look forward to being joined by other businesses.”
In spite of the unfavorable economic outlook and the lack of recent progress at the multilateral level, the communiqué urges governments not to let short-term concerns, however important, drive climate change off the agenda. The signatories believe that the only sustainable future for companies and the globe is to build a robust, green, climate-resilient economy.
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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.
"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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