Thursday, June 10, 2010

More secrecy and indifference to due process from government Warmists

The Oxburgh inquiry did make some limited criticism of the frauds at UEA but basically exonerated them. Steve McIntyre was curious to learn about how they came to their conclusions:

In response to my inquiry asking for a copy of any document setting out the terms of reference of the inquiry, Lord Oxburgh stated:

"I am afraid that I am not able to be very helpful as none of the documents about which you inquire exists"

And later:

"The only written record, apart from any notes that individuals may have kept privately but of which I am unaware, is our final report that was agreed unanimously. Similarly the terms of reference were given to me verbally and are encapsulated in the introductory paragraphs of our report."

In response to a previous inquiry, Kerry Emanuel, a member of the Oxburgh panel, stated:

"As for the written documentation, such as our charge, we were at one point asked not to circulate those, and while that restriction may no longer be in force, I feel a little reluctant to pass those along without checking first. The cleanest way for you to get that material is to ask Ron Oxburgh for it"


See here for more background

Glaciers' wane not all down to humans

Wow! The article below is from "Nature" -- normally a fanatically Warmist publication. "The times they are a'changing" -- slowly

The Great Aletsch Glacier is ill. Over the course of the twentieth century, the largest Alpine glacier, in Valais, Switzerland, receded by more than two kilometres, and Switzerland's 1,500 smaller glaciers are not faring any better.

Is it all down to man-made global warming? Not according to a recent study, which finds that about half of the glacier loss in the Swiss Alps is due to natural climate variability — a result likely to be true for glaciers around the world.

"This doesn't question the actuality, and the seriousness, of man-made climate change in any way," says Matthias Huss, a glaciologist at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, who led the study. "But what we do see is that current glacier retreat might be equally due to natural climate variations as it is to anthropogenic greenhouse warming."

"This is the first detailed attribution of known climate forces on glacier behaviour," says Georg Kaser, a glaciologist at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, who was not involved in the study. "Given the importance of glaciers to local water supply, this is essential information."

Researchers have long suspected that glaciers respond sensitively to natural climate swings such as those caused by the rhythmic rise and fall of North Atlantic sea surface temperatures by up to 1 °C roughly every 60 years. This Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO), driven by changes in ocean circulation, is thought to affect phenomena including Atlantic hurricanes and rainfall in Europe.

In most places, historical records of glacier retreat and local climate are too sparse for researchers to separate the effect of this natural cycle from that of man-made warming. In the relatively well-monitored Swiss Alps, however, Huss and his team managed to gather some 10,000 in situ observations that had been made over the past 100 years, and constructed three-dimensional computer models of 30 glaciers. By comparing a time series of daily melt, snow accumulation and ice and snow volume readings of the glaciers with a widely used index of the AMO, they teased out the impact of natural climate variability. Although the mass balance of individual glaciers varied, the long-term overall trend followed the pulse of the AMO.

Since 1910, the 30 glaciers have lost a total of 13 cubic kilometres of ice — about 50% of their former volume. Brief periods of mass gain during cool AMO phases in the 1910s and late 1970s were outweighed by rapid losses during warm phases in the 1940s and since 1980, when temperatures rose and more precipitation fell as rain than as snow. The scientists believe that these changes are due to the combined effects of the natural cycle and anthropogenic global warming, which now seems to have a greater role than early in the twentieth century.

Natural climate variability is likely to have driven twentieth-century glacier shrinkage and thinning in other parts of the world, says Kaser. For example, his own research on the glaciers of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania suggests that their dramatic recession is mainly due to multidecadal fluctuations in air moisture.

"The widespread idea that glacier retreat is the sole consequence of increased air temperature is overly simplistic," he says. "Glaciologists have known for more than 50 years that glaciers are sensitive to a variety of climate variables, not all of which can be attributed to global warming."

Questions about the effect of global warming on glaciers hit the headlines earlier this year, after an error was found in the latest assessment report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), based in Geneva, Switzerland, which wrongly stated that most Himalayan glaciers could disappear by the year 20353. The resulting furore put the IPCC's credibility under scrutiny, and has triggered an independent review by the InterAcademy Council in Amsterdam, which represents 15 national academies of science.

But scientists don't expect the latest findings on Swiss glaciers to rekindle the controversy. "Without studies like this, climate science would actually be less credible than it is," says Martin Beniston, a regional climate modeller at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, who was not involved in the study. "Problems related to global warming are caused by a subtle mix of human activity and natural changes, and these new findings are a rare opportunity to illustrate this complexity in a comprehensible way. It is a question of scientific honesty to admit that not all the effects of climate change are solely the result of increased greenhouse gases."

Beniston adds that recognizing the role of natural climate shifts doesn't diminish the problem. "Even if greenhouse gases contribute just 50% to glacier retreat, this is anything but negligible." Although Himalayan glaciers may not be as vulnerable as the IPCC report originally suggested, the European Alps, where most glaciers are already in decline, could lose up to 90% of their glaciers by the end of the century, says Kaser.

The authors of the latest study cautiously suggest that a phase shift in the AMO might give a reprieve to Great Aletsch and other Alpine glaciers in the next decades, but Beniston is doubtful. "We may see a temporary slowdown, but I fear in the long run the still fairly modest greenhouse effect will outweigh any Atlantic relief."


Our hero Barbara Boxer

We've spent a lot of time and, well, energy warning against costly carbon controls, yet we must admit the fruits of our earnest labors pale in comparison to those of Senator Barbara Boxer. That's odd because Boxer is an avowed environmentalist and chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee. Her honest job description might be, "To pass the most annoying, burdensome legislation possible."

However, it's hard to argue with the lady's results. Her resolute leadership has torpedoed two major climate bills -- so far. While we continue to disagree with Boxer vehemently, her record of unmitigated failure is a "platform" around which we can rally.

Democratic challenger and popular blogger Mickey Kaus tried to make an issue of her ineffectiveness in the run-up to today's primary. He invited her to a debate on May 25, which she refused to attend. Kaus had a cardboard box stand in for her on the podium. With the aid of some audio clips, he debated the box. One of the audio clips was of Boxer flipping out when a member of the U.S. military referred to her as "ma'am." The most effective dig was yet to come after the debate, on Kaus's campaign website: "The box gave an honest answer when asked to list Sen. Boxer's major legislative accomplishments."

Boxer's bungling of global warming legislation has been impressive. If we had decided to plant a mole in the Democratic Party to scuttle the legislation, we're honestly not sure we could have done any better. In late 2007, for example, soon-to-retire Senator John Warner, a powerful Republican representing Virginia, lent bipartisan cover to a major cap-and-trade energy rationing scheme he co-authored with Joseph Lieberman. After passing through committee that December, the Warner-Lieberman climate legislation had the big mo, and gave us a big headache.

Then Boxer got hold of it. Over the next six months, she changed it, adding hundreds of pages. By the time she unveiled her version of the bill, the topic had become stale. The legislation fizzled and the defeat was embarrassingly bipartisan. Cap-and-trade is a Democratic Party platform plank, but ten senators from Boxer's own party sent her a letter explaining that they could not vote for her bill.

June 29, 2009 left the high water mark for climate change policy. On that day, the House of Representatives enacted a cap-and-trade scheme, the Orwellian-titled American Climate and Energy Security Act. It was the first time the Congress had put a price on carbon, a.k.a. taxed energy. Environmentalists were thrilled, and we were dismayed.

We needn't have feared, because Boxer released the companion bill in the Senate. She outraged Republicans on her committee by refusing to deliberate the bill. In particular, she barred any economic analysis. Republicans boycotted, thereby denying Boxer a quorum for a vote. She found a procedural loophole, and passed it out anyway. Her Democratic colleagues in the Senate were put off by Boxer's partisan pique. The legislation was immediately shelved and now John Kerry is trying to put together a new bill, without the aid of Boxer.

Boxer's political kiss of death no doubt arises from her peculiar notions of how climate policy works. In an October 2009 interview with C-Span, she praised a recent, precipitous drop in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Now, she was right about that. Emissions had fallen. But regulation had next to nothing to do with it. The drop was caused by an economic recession. Inadvertently, Boxer praised economic stagnation and undercut the Obama administration's entire rationale for green jobs. She affirmed a causal connection between greenhouse gas emissions reductions and decreased economic growth.

On energy and climate policy, we could not be further from the positions staked out by Boxer. And that's why we find it so heartening that she looks set to sail through her party's Potemkin nomination process. As long as she is in charge of climate policy, we can all breathe a little easier.


Why they love the ritual of recycling

The real purpose of recycling is not to ‘save the planet’ but to remind us how wasteful and destructive we are

‘You should treat people with respect instead of having a bunch of bin inspectors, bin police.’ Eric Pickles, the communities secretary in Britain’s new Lib-Con coalition government, has announced that the government will not be pressing ahead with a ‘bin tax’ or ‘pay-as-you-throw’ schemes designed to charge householders based on the amount of non-recycled waste they dispose of.

Yet Pickles is proposing a new approach that is simply a bit more ‘carrot’ than ‘stick’. (On the same day, however, Bristol city council announced plans to introduce smaller bins and fine residents up to £1,000 if they don’t separate their waste correctly. Plus ├ža change…) The incentive schemes Pickles is offering in place of a ‘bin tax’, which would reward people for recycling rather than punish them for not recycling, still assume that the tedious business of separating our waste for recycling is the best way of dealing with rubbish. Which it isn’t.

The power to trial pay-as-you-throw schemes was legislated for in the UK Climate Change Act of 2009. Five local authorities were allowed the opportunity to test out the scheme. However, none of them actually tried it. Pickles’ new alternative is based on a different scheme piloted in Windsor and Maidenhead, a local authority west of London. An American company, RecycleBank, is working with the council to offer householders rewards for recycling. Residents sign up for a RecycleBank account and then receive points for how much material they put in their recycling bins. They can then exchange those points for discounts at local shops or give their points, as cash, to charity.

Getting rewarded for doing ‘the right thing’ seems like a pretty good idea. ‘It does not put the costs up’, Pickles told BBC News. ‘Actually, what it does is it increases the recycling rate and puts money into the local economy.’ But this money is not being magicked up out of thin air. Rather it represents the saving made by councils by not having to pay the punitive costs for sending rubbish to landfill because instead they are encouraging local residents to sort the rubbish out. As RecycleBank boss Matthew Tucker told spiked last year: ‘For every tonne that we help a council divert from landfill, we take a percentage of that saving. If the council doesn’t save, we don’t make any money.’ (For a fuller discussion of the pros and cons of recycling, see Recycling: an eco-ritual we should bin, by Rob Lyons).

The saving comes from the severe regime put in place to encourage councils (with a financial gun to their heads) to stop using landfill to dispose of waste. There are two elements to this. Firstly, there is the landfill tax. This is charged on every single tonne of ‘active’ waste (in other words, anything that might decompose, including wood and plastic as well as food) that goes to landfill. The current rate is £48 per tonne. On top of this, councils are also set targets for a maximum total amount of waste going to landfill. If they breach those levels, a fine of £150 per tonne is imposed.

There are numerous other ways to dispose of waste other than landfill and recycling. For example, many more councils in the UK now use incinerators (or, to use the proper parlance, energy-from-waste facilities) to burn waste and generate electricity. If a combined heat and power scheme is tacked on, then the waste heat can also be used to heat local offices, factories and homes. So some councils have quickly built energy-from-waste facilities to get round these fines and taxes.

However, there are also recycling targets imposed by law in addition to the landfill taxes, targets and fines, with the aim that one third of waste will be recycled within five years.

This is Alice-in-Wonderland economics. Landfill is so much cheaper than recycling that in order to get councils to change their waste disposal policies, absolutely swingeing charges must be put on to landfill. Only then does recycling start to make financial sense. Yet with a little ingenuity, we can get most of the benefit of recycling more cheaply and more conveniently.

For example, one of the main justifications for recycling is to cut greenhouse gas emissions. In turn, one of the main sources of such emissions in relation to waste is the methane gas - the same stuff that powers your cooker or central heating - produced when waste rots at the dump. But modern landfill schemes can capture this gas - called biogas - and burning it already makes a small but pretty reliable contribution to UK energy production.

Even recycling itself doesn’t need to be such an almighty pain in the neck. While Pickles and others have highlighted the rewards side of the Windsor and Maidenhead success story, the other element is something called co-mingling. Basically, instead of following endless arcane rules on which kind of rubbish goes into each of the veritable epidemic of multi-coloured containers that local authorities currently provide, with co-mingling there are just three containers: wet waste, like food; dry recyclables, like paper, plastic, card, metals and so on; and everything else. The dry recyclables are then separated out by machine at a depot. The machines aren’t quite as good as doing it all by hand - yet - but they’re still pretty good.

By taking out much of the confusion and hassle associated with separating waste, householders are more likely to do it. This convenient solution, however, doesn’t play well with greens. This is partly because of an obsession with recycling every last iddy-biddy bit of waste. But the main reason why co-mingling irritates greens is because if you take away the complexity of recycling, the ritual of thinking about it and doing it - if it’s barely any more than shoving stuff in the bin, just like it used to be - then we don’t have that daily eco-message drummed into our heads: ‘We are greedy, wasteful people who throw too much stuff away.’

There would be no point in spending lesson after lesson at primary school teaching kids about how to recycle, and why to recycle, if it’s just sticking stuff in the same bin. For greens, the attraction of complex, confusing systems of recycling is that they remind us, as we carry them out, what wasteful and destructive creatures we are. It is more like penance than a practical activity.

When pressed, the more sensible recycling advocates will admit that separating out our waste - like another fashionable idea, banning plastic shopping bags - has little impact on the environment. They will also admit that recycling schemes will always require a certain amount of subsidy. (What’s a few hundred million quid between friends when the national debt is heading rapidly towards a trillion pounds?) Household recycling is a waste of money and time that only makes sense as a form of self-punishment for the eco-sin of consumption.

In other words, those who want us to recycle our rubbish are really trashing us.


Climate summits as dumb as G20

Let’s hope our media in future will apply the same healthy skepticism to the UN’s never-ending global gabfests on climate change as they are to the looming G8/G20 fiasco scheduled for later this month in Canada.

Because whether it’s another UN meeting on global warming of the type we saw in Copenhagen last December or the upcoming G8/G20 in Muskoka and Toronto, both are examples of pointless, wasteful globalization run amok.

Both see world leaders descend on unsuspecting cities with armies of sherpas and bureaucrats in tow, needlessly disrupting the lives of the locals in response to artificial dates set on a calendar, rather than prior negotiations producing any international agreement of substance. Both are unnecessary, outdated dinosaurs in an age of instant global communications.

In both cases, the physical preparations for holding these wasteful extravaganzas, and the uber-excess exhibited in staging them, overshadow any previously agreed to motherhood statement that may emerge. (Copenhagen failed to produce even that.)

Finally, both processes see the leaders of the developed world decreeing to people in the developing world how they must live, an exercise in futility and arrogance, which presumes human behaviour can be changed by international edicts imposed from the top down, rather than by internal, domestic support built from the ground up.

One interesting sidelight of comparing G8/G20 meetings to climate change negotiations is that the same people who call themselves anti-globalization protesters when it comes to the former, typically and hypocritically, support the latter, even though climate change treaties are globalization on steroids.

My QMI colleague Greg Weston broke on Sunday a story that has become emblematic of the justified public anger in Canada over the $1 billion taxpayer-financed cost of staging the G8/G20 in Muskoka and Toronto.

While spent mainly on security, the budget includes such inanities courtesy of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government as constructing a fake lake in the Toronto media centre, ostensibly so international media unable to follow the G8 leaders to Muskoka — meaning virtually all of them — will know what our cottage country is like and promote it as a tourist destination to their domestic audiences. In other words, it’s just another example of outrageous, wasteful spending.

Just as it was when the UN held another of its never-ending global warming gabfests in Bali, Indonesia, one of the world’s most exclusive holiday resorts, in December 2007. This, presumably, so delegates flown in from around the world on the public’s dime courtesy of their captive, domestic taxpayers, could look appropriately hot and sweaty as they expressed concern about “global warming” in outdoor media interviews, while racing between meetings in five-star, air conditioned hotels, generating in 12 days enough greenhouse gas emissions to power a mid-sized African country for a year.

The next big UN meeting on climate change is scheduled for December in (of course) Cancun, to pick up wherever it was Copenhagen left off.

Let’s hope, this time, the media treat this event with the skepticism it deserves, as they are the G8/G20 in Canada. Including asking any delegate pointing to the Gulf of Mexico and crying crocodile tears about the horrendous BP oil spill, exactly how they got to Cancun — as in by jet, or by flapping their magic green fairy wings? Because denouncing BP, which deserves it, is easy. Getting off oil is hard.


Dangerous paranoia about "chemicals"

There is a report published a few years ago called Making Sense of Chemical Stories, which attempts to point out some very basic concepts that most people are not grasping about chemicals. We need to see things clearly and not through a telescope of activism which makes it impossible to see the whole picture. We live in a world where pollution has become “the cause” for celebrities of every ilk. Movies, television and sports notables will come out and take a position on subjects of which they know little or nothing about. We have been inundated by so many articles and television shows regarding chemicals that we in the developed world (which owes so much to chemicals) have become chemophobic.

Malaria in the developed world is thought of as being impossible. Why? DDT largely eliminated it in developed countries! Our economy, which supports a life style that most would not be willing to give up, came about as a result of an innovative chemical industry. Our ability to feed ourselves, and huge portions of the rest of the world, is a direct result of that research. Research that resulted in the Green Revolution, for which Norman Borlaug was largely responsible, literally saved millions of lives with extensive use of high yield varieties of crops, synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Chemistry!

During my young years it was not uncommon for mothers to take their dry foods such as pasta, rice and beans and dump them into a boiling pot of water and wait with a strainer to filter out the dead bugs that would float to the top. We would be outraged now if that happened. The chemical industry provided the answers for that. Pesticides were developed that gave us not only abundant foods, but mostly pest free foods.

Why then do we strive to be kept away from “that stuff”? Why do we have the attitude that all manufactured chemicals must be avoided at any cost? The universe (that includes us by the way) is made up of chemicals. I see advertisements that claim something is chemical free. If it is chemical free it doesn’t exist. We can’t survive without them because we are them. In fact Americans live longer, healthier lives than Americans have ever lived as a result of our chemical rich society and environment.

I have great cartoon in my computer that shows two cavemen sitting in a cave and one of them says, “Something is just not right. Our air is clean, our water is pure, we get plenty of exercise, everything we eat is organic and free range, and yet nobody lives past 30.”

In 1840 when everything was “natural” the average life span was approximately 40. Today, when everything that is important in our lives was created by manufactured chemicals the average life span is about 80. What part of that is so hard to grasp? We live longer as a direct result of those chemicals and it is obvious that these chemicals, when properly used, are not damaging the environment or us, no matter what the activists say, the BP oil spill notwithstanding.

A cup of coffee contains 11 chemicals that are considered carcinogenic. You will be exposed to more carcinogens in that one cup of coffee than all the carcinogenic potential of all of the pesticide residue on all of the food you will eat in one year.

City councils all over the country have taken up the cause of banning potentially harmful substances that have already been tested, regulated and approved for use by the Environmental Protection Agency. We have to ask; why they have decided to take up this task? Is it because they spent three hundred million on research and came to a different conclusion than did the EPA? Is it because these city councils are filled with toxicologists and chemists who looked at the original research and decided that the scientists who performed the research were lackeys of the chemical companies and their work should be dismissed? Or is it perhaps a case of merely taking the word of anti-chemical activists who may have even less scientific acumen and less qualified to determine the worth of these products than these local politicians. Then again, they may even number themselves among them. Try and picture a society that would elect all of their officials from the Sierra Club or PETA.

A city council in California wanted to ban dihydrogen monoxide because it burns human tissue in its gaseous state and prolonged use in its solid state could cause severe tissue damage. What is dihydrogen monoxide? Water! Were they embarrassed when they found out what it actually was? Probably not, after all, their intentions were good. I would rather their actions were correct.

The EPA is spending a fortune to promote IPM and Green Pest Control. The School Environmental Protection Act (SEPA) has been introduced and re-introduced in Congress. Why? Because they “know” so many things that simply aren’t true and they have the power and money to promote these untruths. Name one thing you know for sure about IPM. You can’t. It is indefinable and Green Pest Control is even worse. Everyone has his own ideas about IPM. Such foolishness is seen for what is worth in the third world where children are dying because of a lack of pesticides. Is it our desire to become one with the third world? The actions of anti-pesticide activists indicate that is exactly what they want, and EPA is part and parcel of this outcome.

When we read labels at the grocery store it gives the impression we are being poisoned because we clearly don’t understand the chemical terms. Whether chemicals are naturally occurring or manufactured they have been given names and reading those names do not give most of us any clue as to whether they are safe or not. In short, we don’t know what is good or what is bad. DDT has saved more lives than any chemical naturally occurring or otherwise in human history, and yet we hear how terrible it is. And I will state this again. Everything everyone “knows” about DDT is a lie. Those who actually read books about the “research” done by Rachel Carson realize that she was not a great scientist. She was a great writer, but it turned out to be science fiction.

(I would like to recommend reading Klaus and Bolander’s 1972 issue of “Ecological Sanity” and Roberts and Tren’s “The Excellent Powder, DDT’s Political and Scientific History”, which just came out. )

If we actually look at the facts we will find that most of what comes from the greenies is a lie. Not necessarily lies of commission, which they are guilty of, but mostly lies of omission. The end result is the same. For them to satisfy their egos and enact their entire slate of feel good policies people must die. Why? Because their policies kill people! We have the evidence of science and the truth of history, which proves it beyond any shadow of a doubt. The “conventional wisdom” of the activists was nothing more than the “philosophical flavor of the day”, and has not become traditional wisdom. Wisdom becomes traditional when it stands the test of time. Greenie wisdom has not stood against the march of time or the uncovering of the facts, that is why they have to move from one "crisis" to another. Something must always be on a back burner for them to expoit because it soon becomes obvious that the latest one is a lie, such as anthropogenic climate change AKA Global Warming. No matter how many times a lie is told (even if everyone believes the lie) it will never become the truth! As Benjamin Franklin said, “truth will very patiently wait for us”. What is of concern is how much damage will be done until we find it. The world has suffered upwards of 90 million deaths from malaria and upwards of 13 billion unnecessary cases as a result of banning DDT in 1972. How much patience can the world afford while truth waits for us?

Recently there appeared a CNN special report called “Toxic America” which falsely claimed “that trace levels of environmental chemicals are causing myriad disease in America, from cancer to diabetes and more. Dr. Elizabeth Whelan from the American Council on Science and Health stated “It was worse than I could have imagine. “ She went on to say that “The most shocking part of it was that they recruited people from certain towns who thought that they were harmed by chemicals, and brought them all together to talk about how dangerous these substances are.” ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross agreed with Whelan saying that, “Their segment about so-called ‘toxic towns’ was bizarrely unscientific. When a physician bills himself as an expert and gathers people in a room who believe they were sickened by chemicals, taking a show of hands to see who believes they were harmed, there’s no scientific basis to that whatsoever.”

These "chemical scare” specials from the media are a no win situation for real scientists unless the entire scientific community stands up and condemns them. The emotional drama of parents who have lost children to cancer, and who believer trace chemical elements are reasonable for their death, will be so emotionally overwhelming to any viewing audience that no matter how accurately you present the actual science and no matter how logical your arguments are; emotions will triumph over actual science every time. And our corrupt media and the green movement knows it.

Everything we are told should bear some resemblance to reality. At the end of WWII the world’s population was approximately 2 billion people. Currently we have about 6.7 billion. It took thousands of years to get to 2 billion and yet in less than 75 years we have soared to 6.7 billion and we live in a chemical rich society. When tested, our bodies will show over 2 hundred different chemicals produced by the chemical companies…and we live longer healthier lives than ever in human history. Somewhere there is a serious disconnect between what we see going on in reality and what we are being told. Is it possible that what we are being told is merely the propaganda of an irrational and misanthropic movement with an agenda? Could be!



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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