Orlando Becomes 40th City to Commit to 100% Renewable Energy
The Orlando City Commission unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday establishing a goal to move Orlando to 100 percent clean and renewable energy by 2050. Orlando is now the largest city in Florida to make such a commitment and joins a growing movement of more than three dozen cities nationwide that have committed to a 100 percent clean energy future.
Council chambers were filled with elated members of the First 50 Coalition, a broad-based alliance led by the League of Women Voters of Orange County that is pushing for sustainability in Central Florida.
"Today, Orlando takes its place on the regional, state and national stage as a forward-thinking city committed to a healthier, sustainable future," said League of Women Voters of Orange County co-president Carol Davis. "This is a first, important step, and we plan to continue to support and encourage the City to follow with concrete measures that solidify this commitment."
Orlando represents the 40th city in the U.S. to commit to move to 100 percent clean and renewable energy. Mayor Buddy Dyer has already championed multiple green energy initiatives, including signing the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda in the past few months. In June, Mayor Dyer signed onto the Sierra Club's Mayors for 100% Clean Energy campaign and endorsed a vision of powering all of Orlando with 100 percent clean energy. Other Florida cities that have committed to transition to 100 percent clean and renewable energy include St. Petersburg and Sarasota.
The local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) branch, a key member of the First 50 Coalition, praised the City Commission's vote.
"We stand in support with the Orlando City Commission, in realizing the importance of renewable energy to it residents, by taking the necessary actions to begin the transformation," said Beverlye Colson Neal, president of the NAACP's local branch. "We look forward to working with the City to educate the residents of the importance and advantages of renewable energy as we move into the future."
Sara Isaac, League of Women Voters of Orange County's director of partnerships, agreed. "We applaud the City of Orlando for looking ahead to the future and seeing that a better tomorrow is possible if we take bold action today," Isaac said. "Orlando is a young city that is just now beginning to fully realize its possibilities. This action showcases Orlando as a potential powerhouse player on the national stage."
In a letter sent to commissioners urging their support, First 50 acknowledged that Orlando has already taken significant steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, praising in particular Green Works Orlando and Smart ORL, which boosted Orlando down a path of clean-energy and sustainability.
Orlando's vote was applauded by Phil Compton, senior organizing representative with the Sierra Club's Ready for 100 Campaign in Florida, and a member of the First 50 Coalition.
"All across our state and our nation, cities are committing to a future powered by 100 percent clean and renewable energy for all," Compton said. "Today, Orlando joins this growing movement of cities that are ready for 100 percent clean, renewable energy.
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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