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81% of Voters Support a Green New Deal, Survey Finds

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81% of Voters Support a Green New Deal, Survey Finds
A majority of Americans support a plan to provide jobs while transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy. Serts / Getty Images

It's been little over a month since newly-elected Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez joined some 200 young climate activists for a sit-in in likely future House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office to demand that Democrats back a Green New Deal, a plan to transform the U.S. energy economy in order to stave off climate change and promote greater equality. Since then, support has ballooned for the revolutionary policy plan, with 38 Congresspeople now pledging to back a select committee to develop it, and to renounce donations from fossil fuel companies, according to the latest tally from the Sunrise Movement. But what do voters think?


[Read how Democratic leaders may be shying away from a Green New Deal.]

That is what the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication set out to determine with a survey shared with 966 registered voters between Nov. 28 and Dec.11. The results, published Friday, show that the idea has "overwhelming support" from voters of all parties.

The survey gave a brief explanation of the Green New Deal and then asked respondents, "How much do you support or oppose this idea?" Eighty-one percent of registered voters either "strongly" or "somewhat" supported it, and, while support was stronger among Democrats, a majority of Republicans were also in favor.

While 92 percent of Democrats supported it, 64 percent of Republicans and 57 percent of conservative Republicans also thought it was a good idea. However, there is a catch: The survey did not mention that the Green New Deal has so far been promoted by progressive Democrats like Ocasio-Cortez. The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication explained why this could alter Republican support as the deal and its proponents gain more national attention:

Other research has shown that people evaluate policies more negatively when they are told it is backed by politicians from an opposing political party. Conversely, people evaluate the same policy more positively when told it is backed by politicians from their own party.

Therefore, these findings may indicate that although most Republicans and conservatives are in favor of the Green New Deal's policies in principle, they are not yet aware that this plan is proposed by the political Left. For any survey respondents who were previously unaware of the Deal, it is likely that their reactions have not yet been influenced by partisan loyalty.

The survey also showed that most of its respondents had not heard of the deal. Before it offered its paragraph of explanation, the survey's authors asked if respondents had heard of it. Eighty-two percent answered that they had heard "nothing at all."

For Yale postdoc Abel Gustafson, who co-authored the report on the survey's findings, the challenge for the deal's proponents is how to spread awareness in a way that does not alienate potential supporters.

"Given that most Americans have strong support for the components and ideas of the Green New Deal, it becomes a communication strategy problem," Gustafson told The Huffington Post. "From here, it's about how you can pitch it so you can maintain that bipartisan support throughout the rest of the process."

Another survey from Data for Progress also found broad support for a green jobs program, with 98 percent of loyal Democrats and 66 percent of loyal Republicans on board, The Huffington Post reported.

Overall, Data for Progress polling found 66 percent overall either somewhat or strongly supported a green jobs guarantee.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this article referred to Nancy Pelosi as "soon-to-be-House Majority Leader." In fact, she has been nominated to run for House Speaker in January, but will have to win a floor-vote in January to secure the position.

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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