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Leonardo DiCaprio Pledges to Divest From Fossil Fuels as Movement Grows 50-Fold in One Year

Climate
Leonardo DiCaprio Pledges to Divest From Fossil Fuels as Movement Grows 50-Fold in One Year

The global movement to divest from fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy has exploded, topping at $2.6 trillion and growing 50-fold in just one year, according to a new analysis released today.

To date, 430 institutions and 2,040 individuals have pledged to divest from fossil fuels from governments and investors in 43 countries and multiple sectors, including pension funds, health, education, philanthropy, faith, entertainment, climate justice and municipalities, the report from Arabella Advisors found.

The California Public Employees' Retirement System, the Norway Pension Fund, the Canadian Medical Association, the World Council of Churches, the University of California system, Leonardo DiCaprio and the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation have all made recent commitments to divest from fossil fuels.

"Climate change is severely impacting the health of our planet and all of its inhabitants, and we must transition to a clean energy economy that does not rely on fossil fuels, the main driver of this global problem," said actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio, who announced his commitment today.

“After looking into the growing movement to divest from fossil fuels and invest in climate solutions, I was convinced to make the pledge on behalf of myself and the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. Now is the time to divest and invest to let our world leaders know that we, as individuals and institutions, are taking action to address climate change, and we expect them to do their part this December in Paris at the U.N. climate talks."

Today's report measured the global growth of the fossil fuel divestment and clean energy investment movement, finding that:

  • Pledges have spread to sectors not traditionally associated with divestment, including pension funds and private companies.
  • Climate risk to investment portfolios is helping drive the exponential growth of divestment.
  • While historically focused in the United States, the divestment movement now spans the globe.
  • Thanks to increasing commitments to invest and a proliferation of fossil free products, more capital is flowing toward climate solutions.
  • The faith community is making a strong case for the moral responsibility to act on climate and to provide clean energy access to the world's poor, bolstering the divestment movement.
  • University commitments have nearly tripled in the past year.
  • Divestment by state and local governments worldwide is also growing.
  • Foundation pledges have grown rapidly.

"The Arabella Report shows that more and more investors are reducing their carbon risk today and diversifying their portfolios with the goal to harness the upside in the sustainable clean growth industries of the future," said Thomas Van Dyck, managing director-financial advisor of SRI Wealth Management Group. “That underscores what I see every day as a financial advisor–that the demand for fossil-free investment products is increasing."

In a video statement at today's press conference in New York City where the findings of the report were unveiled, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change said, “Investing at scale in clean, efficient power offers one of the clearest, no regret choices ever presented to human progress."

Earlier this month, Citigroup released a report asking: given the economic, environmental and public health benefits of transitioning to a low-carbon future, why would you not take action on climate change? The report found that taking action to cut carbon pollution and slow global warming by investing in energy efficiency and renewable power generation would result in a positive return on investment, ultimately saving trillions of dollars.

“This shift in investment flows is especially critical for underserved communities and people living in poverty, who are disproportionately affected by the negative impacts of climate change," said Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., president and CEO of Hip Hop Caucus. “Climate change hits the poor first and worst. It is a racial and economic justice issue that must be addressed with solutions like the Divest-Invest movement to empower these communities, eliminate health disparities and drive the shift to a clean energy economy."

Today's report concludes that the divest-invest movement has reached new heights as world leaders will come together Nov. 30 - Dec. 11 at the UN climate negotiations in Paris. The report finds that the rapid growth of the divest-invest movement indicates the urgency many people are feeling to quickly transition toward a low-carbon economy and, based on growth trends over the past two years, momentum will likely continue to build regardless of the outcome at COP21 in Paris.

“If these numbers tell us anything, it's that the divestment movement is catching fire," said May Boeve, executive director of 350.org. “Since starting on the campuses of a few colleges in the U.S., this movement has struck a chord with people across the world who care about climate change, and convinced some of the largest and most influential institutions in the world to begin pulling their money out of climate destruction. That makes me hopeful for our future, and it's sending a clear message to world leaders as they head into Paris: It's time for them to follow suit, and divest our governments from fossil fuel companies too."

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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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