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'Go Out and Vote' Patagonia Endorses Candidates for First Time in Its History

Politics
'Go Out and Vote' Patagonia Endorses Candidates for First Time in Its History
DSLRVideo.com / Flicker / CC BY-SA 2.0

Outdoor brand Patagonia is endorsing candidates for the first time in its history in an effort to protect the country's at-risk public lands and waters.

The civic-minded retailer is backing two Democrats in two crucial Senate races: the re-election of Sen. Jon Tester of Montana; and Rep. Jacky Rosen, who is trying to unseat Republican Sen. Dean Heller in Nevada.


Although CEOs give endorsements and corporations donate to candidates all the time, Patagonia's move is likely the first time any U.S. company has explicitly endorsed candidates for office, campaign-finance experts told the Washington Post.

"We are supporting Jon Tester because he gives a damn about protecting public lands—and, like US, he's committed to fight back against anyone who doesn't," Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard said in a press release emailed to EcoWatch. "He goes to work every day for the 95 percent of Montanans who believe recreation on public lands is a priority, unlike Republicans in Congress who only serve the fossil fuel industry."

Patagonia CEO and president Rose Marcario was similarly enthusiastic about Rosen.

"She will fight to protect Nevada's public lands and the vibrant outdoor industry that depends on them," Marcario said in the press release. "Jacky has a strong record of defending public lands in Congress and protecting our access to clean air and clean waters."

Patagonia has a major presence in Nevada, the home of its global distribution center, its Worn Wear repair center and more than 650 of its employees. For the past two decades, the company has partnered with grassroots environmental nonprofits and state leaders on conservation issues.

In Montana, the company's conservation efforts have dated back nearly 30 years when it started offering grants to support the Montana Wilderness Association. The Treasure State is also home to a Patagonia outlet store and is where the company started its 1% for the Planet program.

Patagonia is not afraid to get political. They sued President Donald Trump last year over his controversial decision to shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah, and it famously declared on its website, "The President Stole Your Land."

The company also helped launch the nonpartisan "Time to Vote" campaign to increase voter participation. It will give its roughly 1,500 U.S. employees a paid day off this Nov. 6 so they have time to head to the polls. It did the same during the 2016 election.

"In the last midterm election only 36 percent of eligible voters decided to vote. That's not enough voters to represent the American people. I think we deserve better than that," Chouinard said in the video posted last week. "If you do too, then let's get off our butts and go out and vote."

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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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