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Silence Is Not Golden in the Face of Greatest Moral Challenge of Our Time

Climate
Silence Is Not Golden in the Face of Greatest Moral Challenge of Our Time

Often when I was a child, I heard the words silence is golden. Silence can be golden when listening to God in prayer or seeking clarity from trusted friends. However, silence is not golden when something needs to be said and it never is. In such circumstances I am not very good with silence. Speaking what I knew to be true prepared me for becoming an evangelical preacher, after spending 14 years in the coal industry. Silence is not golden is when you have a request from more than 60,000 constituents asking you to take action on climate change. Recently, I delivered the names of more than 60,000 Floridians to Governor Scott asking him to lead the state of Florida to address climate change, but at the moment, his only answer is silence.

More than 60,000 constituents have ask Gov. Scott to take action on climate change.

After three weeks of back and forth with the Governor’s staff, I finally delivered the request of those 60,000 plus Floridians to the Governor’s office in Tallahassee. Governor Scott knew I was coming. First, I was denied the meeting and told to contact my Florida legislator, then after pointing out that I wasn’t a Florida resident, I was informed that a meeting would be granted, and then almost two weeks ago, the Governor’s general counsel’s sent me an email making it clear that Governor Scott was too busy to grant my request.

So to insure Governor Scott received the request from more than 60,000 pro-life Christians, I delivered them directly to his office but still silence. I know that I am not from Florida, but one of my Christian heroes, John Wesley, once stated, “The world is my parish.” As a minister, I will travel anywhere to defend the lives and future of God’s children. And God’s children are already being threatened in Florida. Saltwater already spoils pure drinking water, sea level rise costs tax dollars and vector borne diseases are increasing. Someone needs to speak out to protect our children and these 60,000 Floridians equally distributed across the state empowered me to communicate on their behalf.

Maybe Governor Scott is waiting until after his Tuesday meeting with Florida scientists to speak. That certainly would be a wise course of action. I pray Governor Scott’s silence is the sort where he is taking time to seek the Lord in wisdom and not politics as usual. Addressing climate change and the scientific consensus that humans are causing it by our fossil fuel use will require all America to unite. As I have stated many times, climate change is the greatest moral challenge of our time, it’s not political. Making a plan to defend our children and lead them to a brighter economic future with healthier lives is not something one political party can solve or even one governor.

Rev. Hescox praying in the Capitol chapel after delivering 60,000 signatures to Gov. Scott asking him to take action on climate change.

Solving the climate crisis requires government, business and all of us to work together under the leadership of our Risen Lord, Jesus. Jesus once told us that nothing is impossible with God. However following Jesus’ leadership and understanding that caring for God’s creation is an act of discipleship requires action, not simply silence or ignoring the facts.

Governor Scott, now is the time to act and lead Florida. Your silence isn’t golden, but a slight to the Florida citizens who share your same faith. They deserve the Golden Rule, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12 NIV)

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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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