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Youth Activists Urge Presidential Candidates to Address Climate Change

Climate
Youth Activists Urge Presidential Candidates to Address Climate Change

Energy Action Coalition

More than 50 youth vote activists with the Energy Action Coalition rallied outside of the Obama for America campaign headquarters in Chicago yesterday, calling on President Obama and Mitt Romney to take action to address climate change and support clean energy. The rally coincided with the release of Mitt Romney’s energy plan, which made no mention of climate change, and launched the Power Vote campaign, which will mobilize hundreds of thousands of young voters to turn out in the elections and call for clean energy and climate action. 

 

“We’re breaking the silence on climate change, and building grassroots support for action so that President Obama, Mitt Romney and other candidates have to answer to young voters on climate change,” said Maura Cowley, executive director of Energy Action Coalition. “Romney’s energy plan, which is nothing more than ridiculous handouts to Big Oil and Big Coal, and makes absolutely no mention of climate change, adds fuel to the fire for young voters to get out there and demand leadership from the candidates.”

Power Vote will support thousands of youth organizers to mobilize hundreds of thousands of young voters for clean energy and climate action, and call on candidates to stop stalling and start leading on climate change. President Obama and Mitt Romney have been silent on climate change. The Power Vote campaign is building grassroots support for climate action and demanding President Obama, Mitt Romney and other candidates break the silence and start taking action.

"In Ohio young people want to see President Obama and Mitt Romney stand up to the Oil & Gas industries and stop supporting handouts for dangerous fracking," said Kate Dye, a student and Power Vote leader at Columbus State Community College. "President Obama and Mitt Romney need to start addressing climate change with action for a clean energy economy, and stop dirty fracking from impacting the health of young people in Ohio."

The 50 youth vote leaders with Energy Action Coalition were gathered in Chicago this week for an intensive grassroots organizing training. The training and rally marked the beginning of the larger Power Vote campaign, which will kick-off on campuses as the fall semester starts, and will include a series of election related events, national days of action and the release of an online organizing tool that allows grassroots supporters to build their own campaigns.

Visit EcoWatch’s CLIMATE CHANGE page for more related news on this topic.

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Energy Action Coalition is a coalition of 50 youth-led environmental and social justice groups working together to build the youth clean energy and climate movement. Working with hundreds of campus and youth groups, dozens of youth networks, and hundreds of thousands of young people, Energy Action Coalition and its partners have united a burgeoning movement behind winning local victories and coordinating on state, regional and national levels in the U.S. and Canada.

 

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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