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Hundreds of Thousands Take to the Streets Demanding Urgent Action on Climate Change

Climate
Hundreds of Thousands Take to the Streets Demanding Urgent Action on Climate Change

More than 2,300 events spread across 175 countries took place this weekend prior to the Paris climate talks, which begin Monday. Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets demanding world leaders take urgent action on climate change.

The Global Climate March—including marches, concerts, rallies, workshops, bike rides and film screenings—had one clear message: "Keep fossil fuels in the ground and finance a just transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050."

“The scale and diversity of today’s events are astounding," said May Boeve, executive director of 350.org. "Worldwide people are ready for the end of fossil fuels and the dawn of renewables. World leaders can no longer ignore this urgent call for action as the climate crisis continues to unfold. It is time for them to stand on the right side of history.”

Some of the highlights from events on Saturday included:

  • In Australia, one of the earliest marches, 60,000 people marched through the streets of Melbourne. There were also marches in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Darwin, Hobart and Perth.

  • In the Pacific Islands there were marches in Fiji and the Marshall Islands with gatherings Tuvalu and Papua New Guinea.

  • 2,000 people ran through the streets of Cairo, Egypt to raise awareness on climate impacts and call for urgent climate action.

  • More than 15,000 people marched for climate justice in Quezon City and across parts of the Philippines.

  • Tokyo, Japan saw 1,000 people march demanding a just transition to 100 percent renewable energy.

  • 5,000 people took to the streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh and thousands more across the country.

  • Johannesburg, South Africa saw 500 people mobilize to demand an end of coal.

On Sunday, large events took place in London, New York, Sao Paolo, Mexico City, Sydney, Manila, Kyoto and Paris where climate activists formed a human chain along Boulevard Voltaire, one of Paris’ iconic avenues.

In London, the BBC reported that 10,000 people marched from Hyde Park to Whitehall, the largest demonstration that took place this weekend.

Many celebrities joined the London march on Sunday—one of 70 events that took place in the UK—including fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, actress Vanessa Redgrave, Radiohead singer Thom Yorke, Green MP Caroline Lucas, shadow chancellor John McDonnell and musician Peter Gabriel.

"The issue is really being taken more seriously and the politicians—I think if they see these numbers too—will begin to act definitely and I hope achieve agreement," Gabriel told the BBC.

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A group of Sámi, an indigenous people from the Arctic, sang on stage in London. Watch here:

On Sunday, thousands of pairs of shoes were put in the Place de la Republique in Paris by the advocacy group Avaaz. The shoes represent climate campaigners who were banned from marching. The planned climate rally in Paris was canceled by French authorities in response to the terrorist attacks on Nov. 13.

Another demonstration took place today in Place de Republique. The protest involved some parts of the climate movement in France. For over an hour, this unpermitted demonstration took place peacefully, without confrontation with the police or other security forces, according to 350.org.

However, a small group of protesters unaffiliated with the climate movement arrived at Republique and began to clash with the police, violating the nonviolent pledge that every group involved in the climate coalition here in France has agreed to, 350.org said. Police responded with tear gas and pepper spray and then the protest dispersed.

“The human chain that stretched along Boulevard Voltaire was a beautiful and powerful event, the type of mobilization that should be allowed to continue in Paris while the climate talks are underway and beyond," 350.org France Campaigner Nicolas Haeringer said. "We will stand against any attempts by the French authorities to use the incidents this afternoon to unnecessarily clamp down on civil liberties and prevent the types of demonstrations that are at the heart of any democracy and climate progress.”

Activists will continue to find creative ways to make their voices heard throughout the climate talks in Paris over the coming weeks, added 350.org.

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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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