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The People’s Climate March: A Time Where 'We' Can Make a Difference

Climate
The People’s Climate March: A Time Where 'We' Can Make a Difference

Protecting the planet from the worst consequences of climate change is not an “I” issue, it’s a “We” issue, and notice we are using a capital “W.”  That’s why it’s important for as many people as possible to take part in the People’s Climate March in New York, the various other marches around the world, and the social media actions associated with them over the next week. The People’s Climate March on the 21st in New York is a chance for hundreds of thousands of people of all walks of life—from the business community to hundreds of youth groups, and everyone in between—to show that “We,” as citizens of this planet, want a future that isn’t limited by the inaction we are seeing on climate change now.

The People’s Climate March in New York and the other marches taking place in London, Paris, Berlin, Melbourne and Bogotá can serve as a launching point for real policies to be implemented to limit carbon emissions, encourage large scale renewable energy projects and fund ways to fight off the consequences of climate change. Photo credit: Joshua Cruse / NYC Light Brigade

Climate change is something we can all individually chose to ignore, but if we do so the consequences will be unavoidable no matter where you live. Our home state of California is already seeing the consequences of climate change firsthand. The record drought that continues to ravage California doesn’t care if you are rich and poor or what your religion or race is. The drought is touching us all. It requires us all to limit our water use, pay higher food prices and rethink the places we have decided to call home.

The impacts of climate change aren’t just here in California, no part of the world is immune from the inaction we are now seeing on climate change. The DARA report on Climate Impacts projects huge consequences for the world as it continues to warm, especially Africa and Asia. These consequences come in the form of rising seas, increasing extreme weather events, crop destruction, shocks to food supplies and yes, drought. Climate change is real, it is serious, we are causing it, but we can also slow it down.

So let’s collectively start to take some action that goes beyond everyday actions. Of course, buying local, using renewable energy, recycling and riding your bike to work are all great ways to individually make a difference, but the truth is much more is needed to stop the worst consequences of climate change. We need action from policymakers and world leaders to complete the puzzle and that’s where "We" come in. People need to get visual and vocal to show our leaders here in the U.S. and around the world that we want action on climate change.

The People’s Climate March is a perfect opportunity to do that. It comes just days before more than 100 presidents, prime ministers and other heads of state meet in New York to begin discussing solutions to the climate challenge. The People’s Climate March in New York and the other marches taking place in London, Paris, Berlin, Melbourne and Bogotá can serve as a launching point for real policies to be implemented to limit carbon emissions, encourage large scale renewable energy projects and fund ways to fight off the consequences of climate change. If we collectively support these efforts, through marches and other actions in the coming years, we will reap the benefits of a world that isn’t raved by the worst climate change could bring. So let’s collectively all get active!

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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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