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Climate Change Purged From White House Website

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Climate Change Purged From White House Website

By Andy Rowell

As the Trump Administration Sunday descended into a farce of "alternative facts" to try and argue that there had been historic numbers at the new President's inauguration, it is quite clear "alternative" and blatantly bogus facts, will be used on energy and climate too.

Within minutes of the president being inaugurated on Friday, the White House's webpage got a make-over, reflecting Trump's post-truth, pro-oil agenda.

The White House removed pretty much all references to climate change.

Out went Obama's message on climate change, where you could see the ex-president saying "our children, and our children's children, will look at us in the eye and they'll ask us, did we do all that we could when we had the chance to deal with this problem and leave them a cleaner, safe [sic], more stable world?"

That box has now been deleted and replaced by Trump's "America First Energy Plan" which is an oilman's Drill-baby-drill dream come true.

The page states:

"Sound energy policy begins with the recognition that we have vast untapped domestic energy reserves right here in America. The Trump Administration will embrace the shale oil and gas revolution to bring jobs and prosperity to millions of Americans. We must take advantage of the estimated $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil and natural gas reserves, especially those on federal lands that the American people own."

Screenshot

This pro-oil agenda is reflected in Trump's proposed cabinet. Even the ever-impartial Financial Times noted that: "As Donald Trump moves into the White House, it would be hard to dream up a cabinet friendlier to fossil fuels."

Such is the optimism about Trump from fossil fuel investors that since his election, investors have pumped nearly $4 billion into the U.S. energy sector.

But whilst the President might be able to ignore climate change on paper and by the people he picks for his cabinet, he will not be able to ignore climate change in the real world.

Trump's energy plan concludes with the concept of "a brighter future depends on policies that stimulate our economy, ensure our security and protect our health."

As Newsweek points out:

"The missing piece is a plan to address climate change. The future will not be brighter if the coasts are inundated by rising sea levels. Florida could be hit hard, as could Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach. Separated from the mainland by the Intracoastal Waterway, Palm Beach is only seven feet above sea level. If Trump wants a brighter future, perhaps he should move to higher ground."

Likewise, Trump may want to drill every last drop of oil and gas from under U.S. lands, but this may not be as easy as he thinks.

For a Billionaire businessman it seems Trump does not understand simple supply and demand economics.

Once again the Financial Times is skeptical: "The idea that expanding where companies can drill, easing the process of getting a permit and scrapping efforts to curb carbon emissions 'will unleash an energy revolution,' as the Trump transition website put it, is untested. If more supplies do flow, they could depress energy prices and punish investors."

The more shale that is produced, the more it will undermine coal. If Trump subsidies coal, it will undermine shale. The majority of shale is on private land and not on federal land. That is subject to jurisdiction from the states, rather than the Federal Government.

Trump may want to try and undo Obama's legacy on climate, but the Financial Times argues this could take "years to undo." Trump's rhetoric maybe simple, but life is more complicated in the real world.

And Trump will face huge pressure from the international community on climate too. Xie Zhenhua, the veteran Chinese climate negotiator said last week: "The international community and U.S. citizens will pressure the Trump Administration to continue clean energy policies."

The person they would lobby is the U.S. Secretary of State. Later today, Rex Tillerson, the ex-Exxon boss could be approved for that post.

Yes, we face the most pro-fossil fuel cabinet in generations. But every day the resistance to this extreme Trump agenda grows stronger. Just witness the amazing scenes from the women's marches last Saturday from around the world. Look at those pictures and draw hope.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Oil Change International.

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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