Friday, November 04, 2011

CO2 Equals Temperature – Even If It Doesn’t

The theory that CO2 rise causes temperature rise is no longer a theory to Warmists. It is an axiom: An unquestionable truth. That it is false is impossible for them to see. Their minds just cannot handle the equation being wrong, even when it obviously is. They have a sort of short circuit in their brains that skips over all evidence on the question -- JR

A peek inside the wildly disordered minds of climate alarmists.
Biggest jump ever seen in global warming gases
By SETH BORENSTEIN AP Science Writer November 3, 2011 8:48PM

WASHINGTON — The global output of heat-trapping carbon dioxide jumped by the biggest amount on record, the U.S. Department of Energy calculated, a sign of how feeble the world’s efforts are at slowing man-made global warming.

CO2 is increasing very quickly, but temperatures have been flat or down for almost 15 years. Someone with a functional brain might recognize that they need to mentally decouple CO2 from temperature.
“It’s a big jump,” said Tom Boden, director of the Energy Department’s Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center at Oak Ridge National Lab.

Boden said the latest figures put global emissions higher than the worst case projections from the climate panel. Those forecast global temperatures rising between 4 and 11 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century with the best estimate at 7.5 degrees.

Tom, if the trend so far this century continues – there will be zero degrees of warming by the end of the century. Why are you pulling nonsensical numbers out of your nether regions? You have no clue what the weather will be like next week, much less 90 years from now.
“Really dismaying,” said Granger Morgan, head of the engineering and public policy department at Carnegie Mellon University. “We are building up a horrible legacy for our children and grandchildren.”

Yes we are. Children are going to think that all scientists are either idiots, or criminals.

CO2 is increasing rapidly. Temperatures aren’t. If you made it past the first grade, try putting two and two together.


Why I Remain a Global-Warming Skeptic: Searching for scientific truth in the realm of climate

Good to see this in the WSJ, even if only in the European edition


Last month the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project released the findings of its extensive study on global land temperatures over the past century. Physics professor Richard Muller, who led the study, heralded the findings with a number of controversial statements in the press, including an op-ed in this newspaper titled "The Case Against Global-Warming Skepticism." And yet Mr. Muller remains a true skeptic—a searcher for scientific truth. I congratulate Mr. Muller and his Berkeley Earth team for undertaking this difficult task in the realm of climate.

The Berkeley study reported a warming trend of about 1º Celsius since 1950, even greater than the warming reported by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). I disagree with this result, which perhaps makes me a little more of a skeptic than Mr. Muller.

Mr. Muller has been brutally frank about the poor quality of the weather-station data, noting that 70% of U.S. stations involve uncertainties of between two and five degrees Celsius. One could interpret the Berkeley study's results as confirmation of earlier studies and of the IPCC's conclusions, despite the poor quality of the stations used. But perhaps the issue is that the Berkeley study and the ones that came before suffer from common errors. I suspect that the temperature records still are affected by the urban heat-island effect—a term given to any local warming, whatever its cause—despite efforts to correct for this. The urban heat-island effect could include heat produced not only in urban areas, but also due to changes in land use or poor station siting. Therefore, I suggest additional tests:

1. Disassemble the "global average" temperature to get a better picture of what's going on regionally. This could involve plotting both the IPCC's and the Berkeley study's data only for tropical regions, separating the northern and southern hemispheres and testing for seasonal variation and differences between day and night.

2. Better describe what we can think of as the demographics of weather stations, a major source of possible error. The IPCC used 6,000 stations in 1970 and only about 2,000 in 2000. Let's examine their latitude, altitude and possible urbanization, and see if there have been major changes in the stations sampled between 1970 and 2000. For example, it is very likely that airports were used as temperature stations in both 1970 and 2000, because airport stations are generally of high quality. But airports are likely warming rapidly because of increasing traffic and urbanization. So if the number of airport stations remained constant at, say, 1,200 over that 30-year interval, the warming observed there might have increased between 20% and 60% over the same period of time, thereby producing an artificial warming trend.

3. The Berkeley study used a total of 39,000 weather stations, an impressive number. But again, we need to know if that number changed significantly between 1970 and 2000, and how the demographics of the stations changed—both for stations that showed cooling and for those that showed warming.

But the main reason that I am skeptical about the IPCC, and now the Berkeley, findings, is that they disagree with most every other data source I can find. I confine this critique to the period between 1978 and 1997, thereby avoiding the Super El Niño of 1998 that had nothing to do with greenhouse gases or other human influences.

Contrary to both global-warming theory and climate models, data from weather satellites show no atmospheric temperature increase over this period, and neither do the entirely independent radiosondes carried in weather balloons. The Berkeley study confined its findings to land temperatures as recorded by weather stations. Yet oceans cover 71% of the earth's surface, and the marine atmosphere shows no warming trend. The absence of warming is in accord with the theory that climate is heavily impacted by solar variability, and agrees with the solar data presented in a 2007 paper by Danish physicist Henrik Svensmark in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society A.

Moreover, independent data using temperature proxies—various non-thermometer sources such as tree rings, ocean and lake sediments, ice cores, stalagmites, and so on—also support an absence of warming between 1978 and 1997. Coral data also show no pronounced warming trend of the sea surface, and there are good reasons to believe that reported sea-surface warming is an artifact of thermometer measurements.

The IPCC's 2007 Summary for Policy makers claims that "Most of the observed increase in global average [surface] temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely [90-99% sure] due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations." While Mr. Muller now seems to agree that there has been such global average warming since the mid-20th century, he nonetheless ended his op-ed by disclaiming that he knows the cause of any temperature increase. Moreover, the Berkeley team's research paper comments: "The human component of global warming may be somewhat overestimated." I commend Mr. Muller and his team for their honesty and skepticism.


Richard Muller was never a warming skeptic, he admits

Though by no means a climate change denier, Richard Muller, a physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, whose work in nuclear and astrophysics is well known, had long been suspicious of some of the science underpinning the accepted catechism on global warming.

He wondered, for example, about the the potential for urban areas, which retain and generate inordinate amounts of heat, to distort data suggesting that things were getting warmer. He also questioned the reliability of surface temperature readings collected from aging and error-prone monitoring stations all over the planet.

Muller's desire to examine these issues -- along with a willingness to excoriate prominent climate scientists for what he considered bad behavior, and to cheer climate change skeptics for bucking received orthodoxies on the topic -- certainly made him something of an orphan in the ever-polarized climate wars. But to his mind, it didn't mean he rejected the basic mechanics of global warming.

Casual readers, perusing the headlines over the last two weeks, would be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

After Muller's two-year-old Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project began publishing its findings on these and other questions late last month, numerous news outlets have portrayed him as a former skeptic whose research has led him back to the global warming fold.

Those portrayals then generated a subsequent wave of opprobrium from the small but vocal community of skeptics and deniers who think, across the broadest spectrum, that global warming is nonsense, that humans aren't contributing to it, or some mixture of both. Efforts to disown him as part of Team Skeptic ensued.

"Richard Muller is not who he says he is. He is an advocate of the theory of man-made global warming," wrote a columnist in The Charleston Daily Mail. "The skeptic who claims to have debunked climate skepticism never was a skeptic," declared the folks at

Muller suggested the bluster on all sides was somewhat misplaced.

"It is ironic if some people treat me as a traitor, since I was never a skeptic -- only a scientific skeptic," he said in a recent email exchange with The Huffington Post. "Some people called me a skeptic because in my best-seller 'Physics for Future Presidents' I had drawn attention to the numerous scientific errors in the movie 'An Inconvenient Truth.' But I never felt that pointing out mistakes qualified me to be called a climate skeptic."

In a nutshell, Muller and his team at Berkeley, which includes his daughter, Elizabeth, merged and analyzed a staggering amount of data collected from temperature monitoring stations the world over in order to address several complaints about climate research thus far. Skeptics, for example, have long argued -- legitimately, in Muller's view -- that climate researchers have relied on too small or too selective a sample of station data to definitively conclude that temperatures are rising; that many of the stations offer unreliable data, or are skewed upward by proximity to urban "heat islands"; or that researchers have made inappropriate adjustments in data to compensate for changes in measuring equipment and other local variables that crop up over decades of pulse-taking.

None of these concerns proved significant. "Our analysis of the complete data set showed that none of these four major concerns of the skeptics had biased the answer," Muller said.

In fact, the results closely matched most previous analyses showing a clear up-tick in temperature -- roughly 1 degree Celsius -- over the last half-century. And their estimate even exceeded the conservative estimate of a 0.64 degree increase promulgated by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Asked whether his group's findings have been mischaracterized since publication, Muller -- who has been accused of mischaracterizations of his own -- was unequivocal. "By nearly every news, radio, and TV station that has reported on us," he said. "I have been misquoted more in the last two weeks than in the prior several decades of my professional life." Among other trouble spots, Muller said, was the headline put atop his own op-ed contribution to The Wall Street Journal, which described his findings as "The Case Against Global-Warming Skepticism."

Muller said he'd submitted a much more contemplative title for the piece -- "Cooling the Warming Debate."

"I certainly feel that there is lots of room for skepticism on the human component of warming," Muller said.

Indeed, if anything qualifies Muller as any sort of climate skeptic, it's on this point -- but only in the broadest sense. What role do humans play in all this warming? The BEST team didn't examine this question, but for most researchers, it's long been a bit of a no-brainer. Carbon dioxide, among other gases, acts like a great big blanket around the planet, trapping heat in the atmosphere and driving temperatures upward. As for where the carbon dioxide is coming from, if you drive a car, use electricity or otherwise live in the modern world, just look in the mirror.

For his part, Muller doesn't dispute that human activity plays a large role, but the scientist in him remains uncertain of just how to quantify that. "Although it is not a conclusion of the Berkeley Earth group, it is my personal opinion that greenhouse gas emissions from humans have contributed to the observed warming," Muller said. "The IPCC says that 'most' of the 0.6-degree Celsius warming of the past 50 years is anthropogenic. If 'most' means between 0.3- and 0.6-degrees Celsius, then that is certainly within the realm of possibility."

Muller added that the work done by his team does show that "variations in the temperature of the North Atlantic have a much larger effect on the global land temperature than had previously been recognized." Many researchers suspect that these North Atlantic variations are due to fluctuations in what's called the "thermohaline circulation" -- a slow and deep flow of ocean water around the planet.

"If that is the case," Muller said, "then part of the [temperature] rise observed may be due to such ocean variability, and that would imply that the human contribution is less."

That caveat notwithstanding, the Charles G. Koch Foundation, a philanthropy famous for underwriting climate denialism that provided $150,000 in funding for the BEST team's work, did feel compelled to cooly qualify Muller's research as still in need of peer review.

The foundation also noted that the BEST team had examined neither humanity's role in rising temperatures, nor whether ocean temperatures -- as opposed to land-based readings -- suggest that global warming is actually slowing, as some skeptics believe. Muller says further examination of those questions are on his to-do list.

"Scientists," he said, "have a professional responsibility to be skeptical."


With or without global warming, the only problems with feeding the world will be political

The characteristic state of markets for farm products is glut

My colleague Julian Morris, the vice-president for research at the Reason Foundation, along with Ohio State University natural resource economist Douglas Southgate have issued a new report, Weathering Global Warming in Agriculture [PDF]. Global warming will clearly affect what, how, and where farmers will grow food in the future as rainfall and temperature patterns shift. Will farmers be able to keep up with any changes in the weather and provide the food that 9 billion people will need by 2050? Yes, according to the new report, if they are allowed to adapt and trade.

Interestingly, the report highlights the fact that a lot of the projections for future agricultural production assume that farmers will be using pretty much the same technologies and growing the same crop varieties in the same areas as they do now. It's like assuming that person will allow themselves to be drowned by standing still in a rising tide.

In fact, during the last half century, farmers around the globe have proven themselves highly adaptable if given the chance. As the world's population burgeoned, food production more than kept up:
...mainly thanks to technological advances during and since the Green Revolution that have caused global yields of cereals (which comprise at least 60 percent of the human diet if the grain consumed by livestock is taken into account) to rise by 150 percent since the early 1960s.

The general tendency of food supplies to overwhelm food demand has registered in the marketplace. Corrected for inflation, prices of corn, rice and wheat declined by approximately 75 percent between 1950 and the middle 1980s, and then remained at historically low levels for another two decades. Food prices spiked in 2007 and 2008 due to rising agricultural production costs resulting from higher energy prices, expanded conversion of corn and other crops into biofuels, and export restrictions implemented by nations such as Argentina, Ukraine and Vietnam. However, markets soon returned to normal, with prices in late 2008 a little above what they had been before the spike.

Occasional upswings like those of 2007 and 2008 notwithstanding, food prices can remain at current levels or even decline further in the years to come. For example, the World Bank anticipates a deceleration of demand growth, mainly because population increases will dwindle as human fertility continues to decline and because the rate of growth for grain consumption per capita promises to slow down in emerging economies. In addition, ample opportunities remain for boosting production. Under the Bank’s baseline scenario, real food prices should be slightly below current levels in 2050, when human numbers will be at around nine billion and close to stabilizing.

What needs to be done in the future? As the report spells out, reforms must be taken to privatize and market price irrigation water, stop agricultural subsidies and end trade barriers, and allow farmers to adopt new crop varieties including those developed by biotechnology.

The report concludes:
If agriculture suffers because of climate change, the fault will lie not with underlying environmental scarcity, but rather with the absence of reforms such as these—reforms for which the case could hardly be more compelling.


China's corn crop keeps rising

Rising CO2 doesn't seem to be doing any damage!

Corn production in China, the world’s largest grower and consumer after the U.S., probably rose 6.7 percent to a record this year as farmers planted more and favorable weather boosted yields, a survey showed.

Output jumped to 189.18 million metric tons (7.5 billion bushels) from 177.24 million last year, based on a survey of the seven largest corn-growing provinces during the harvest in September and October by Geneva-based SGS SA for Bloomberg. The estimate tops the 182 million tons forecast by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Oct. 12. Chinese growers may boost acreage 4.6 percent in 2012, SGS said.

Domestic production will reach a record for the seventh time in eight years after farmers planted 6.1 percent more land than in 2010, according to the survey of farmers in the northeast provinces of Jilin, Heilongjiang, Shandong, Henan, Hebei, Liaoning and Inner Mongolia from Sept. 26 to Oct. 20. China is expanding domestic supply as rising meat and dairy consumption boost demand for grain used as livestock feed.

“The extra acreage was the biggest factor for higher production, and it looks like farmers want to plant more next year,” Mark Oulton, the market research director for SGS, said yesterday in a telephone interview from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. “Corn is more profitable than other crops.”

After wet, cold weather delayed planting in much of northeastern China, farmers benefited from regular rains and no sustained periods of heat, according to World Weather Inc. in Overland Park, Kansas. Dry weather aided harvesting in September and October. Yields in the seven provinces increased 0.6 percent, according to SGS estimates.

Heilongjiang, the top-growing region last year, saw a 14 percent increase in planted area that offset an 8.6 percent drop in yields from wind and insect damage, survey data show. Acreage rose 3.7 percent in Jilin, the second-largest grower, while dry weather and winds cut yields 4 percent. Disease caused less harm this year, with 11 percent suffering normal to severe damage, down from 15 percent a year earlier.

The biggest jump in productivity occurred in Liaoning Province, where rains and reduced damage from insects led to a 36 percent jump in yields, compared with last year’s drought- damaged crop, the survey showed.

Fewer Farmers

Less than 50 percent of China’s population, the world’s largest, is involved in agriculture, down from more than 70 percent a decade ago, Fang Yan, the deputy director at the National Development and Reform Commission, said this week.

“Some people are just moving into the cities and renting out the land to their neighbors,” Oulton said.

The number of rented farms increased to 27 percent of the total surveyed, from 21 percent a year earlier, SGS said. Farmers rented 39 percent of the land for corn cultivation in Heilongjiang, the most in the survey. Farmers paid rent on 30 percent of the corn land in Jilin, and 6 percent in Hebei, the least in the survey.


Natural gas versus windmills

Which would you rather have in the view from your house? A thing about the size of a domestic garage, or eight towers twice the height of Nelson’s column with blades noisily thrumming the air. The energy they can produce over ten years is similar: eight wind turbines of 2.5-megawatts (working at roughly 25% capacity) roughly equal the output of an average Pennsylvania shale gas well (converted to electricity at 50% efficiency) in its first ten years.

Difficult choice? Let’s make it easier. The gas well can be hidden in a hollow, behind a hedge. The eight wind turbines must be on top of hills, because that is where the wind blows, visible for up to 40 miles. And they require the construction of new pylons marching to the towns; the gas well is connected by an underground pipe.

Unpersuaded? Wind turbines slice thousands of birds of prey in half every year, including white-tailed eagles in Norway, golden eagles in California, wedge-tailed eagles in Tasmania. There’s a video on YouTube of one winging a griffon vulture in Crete. According to a study in Pennsylvania, a wind farm with eight turbines would kill about a 200 bats a year. The pressure wave from the passing blade just implodes the little creatures’ lungs. You and I can go to jail for harming bats or eagles; wind companies are immune.

Still can’t make up your mind? The wind farm requires eight tonnes of an element called neodymium, which is produced only in Inner Mongolia, by boiling ores in acid leaving lakes of radioactive tailings so toxic no creature goes near them.

Not convinced? The gas well requires no subsidy – in fact it pays a hefty tax to the government – whereas the wind turbines each cost you a substantial add-on to your electricity bill, part of which goes to the rich landowner whose land they stand on. Wind power costs three times as much as gas-fired power. Make that nine times if the wind farm is offshore. And that’s assuming the cost of decommissioning the wind farm is left to your children – few will last 25 years.

Decided yet? I forgot to mention something. If you choose the gas well, that’s it, you can have it. If you choose the wind farm, you are going to need the gas well too. That’s because when the wind does not blow you will need a back-up power station running on something more reliable. But the bloke who builds gas turbines is not happy to build one that only operates when the wind drops, so he’s now demanding a subsidy, too.

What’s that you say? Gas is running out? Have you not heard the news? It’s not. Till five years ago gas was the fuel everybody thought would run out first, before oil and coal. America was getting so worried even Alan Greenspan told it to start building gas import terminals, which it did. They are now being mothballed, or turned into export terminals.

A chap called George Mitchell turned the gas industry on its head. Using just the right combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) – both well established technologies -- he worked out how to get gas out of shale where most of it is, rather than just out of (conventional) porous rocks, where it sometimes pools. The Barnett shale in Texas, where Mitchell worked, turned into one of the biggest gas reserves in America. Then the Haynesville shale in Louisiana dwarfed it. The Marcellus shale mainly in Pennsylvania then trumped that with a barely believable 500 trillion cubic feet of gas, as big as any oil field ever found, on the doorstep of the biggest market in the world.

The impact of shale gas in America is already huge. Gas prices have decoupled from oil prices and are half what they are in Europe. Chemical companies, which use gas as a feedstock, are rushing back from the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Mexico. Cities are converting their bus fleets to gas. Coal projects are being shelved; nuclear ones abandoned.

Rural Pennsylvania is being transformed by the royalties that shale gas pays (Lancashire take note). Drive around the hills near Pittsburgh and you see new fences, repainted barns and – in the local towns – thriving car dealerships and upmarket shops. The one thing you barely see is gas rigs. The one I visited was hidden in a hollow in the woods, invisible till I came round the last corner where a flock of wild turkeys was crossing the road. Drilling rigs are on site for about five weeks, fracking trucks a few weeks after that, and when they are gone all that is left is a “Christmas tree” wellhead and a few small storage tanks.

The International Energy Agency reckons there is quarter of a millennium’s worth of cheap shale gas in the world. A company called Cuadrilla drilled a hole in Blackpool, hoping to find a few trillion cubic feet of gas. Last month it announced 200 trillion cubic feet, nearly half the size of the giant Marcellus field. That’s enough to keep the entire British economy going for many decades. And it’s just the first field to have been drilled.

Jesse Ausubel is a soft-spoken academic ecologist at Rockefeller University in New York, not given to hyperbole. So when I asked him about the future of gas, I was surprised by the strength of his reply. “It’s unstoppable,” he says simply. Gas, he says, will be the world’s dominant fuel for most of the next century. Coal and renewables will have to give way, while oil is used mainly for transport. Even nuclear may have to wait in the wings.

And he is not even talking mainly about shale gas. He reckons a still bigger story is waiting to be told about offshore gas from the so-called cold seeps around the continental margins. Israel has made a huge find and is planning a pipeline to Greece, to the irritation of the Turks. The Brazilians are striking rich. The Gulf of Guinea is hot. Even our own Rockall Bank looks promising. Ausubel thinks that much of this gas is not even “fossil” fuel, but ancient methane from the universe that was trapped deep in the earth’s rocks – like the methane that forms lakes on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons.

The best thing about cheap gas is whom it annoys. The Russians and the Iranians hate it because they thought they were going to corner the gas market in the coming decades. The greens hate it because it destroys their argument that fossil fuels are going to get more and more costly till even wind and solar power are competitive. The nuclear industry ditto. The coal industry will be a big loser (incidentally, as somebody who gets some income from coal, I declare that writing this article is against my vested interest).

Little wonder a furious attempt to blacken shale gas’s reputation is under way, driven by an unlikely alliance of big green, big coal, big nuclear and conventional gas producers. The environmental objections to shale gas are almost comically fabricated or exaggerated. Hydraulic fracturing or fracking uses 99.86% water and sand, the rest being a dilute solution of a few chemicals of the kind you find beneath your kitchen sink.

State regulators in Alaska, Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming have all asserted in writing that there have been no verified or documented cases of groundwater contamination as a result of hydraulic fracking. Those flaming taps in the film “Gasland” were literally nothing to do with shale gas drilling and the film maker knew it before he wrote the script. The claim that gas production generates more greenhouse gases than coal is based on mistaken assumptions about gas leakage rates and cherry-picked time horizons for computing greenhouse impact.

Like Japanese soldiers hiding in the jungle decades after the war was over, our political masters have apparently not heard the news. David Cameron and Chris Huhne are still insisting that the future belongs to renewables. They are still signing contracts on your behalf guaranteeing huge incomes to landowners and power companies, and guaranteeing thereby the destruction of landscapes and jobs. The government’s “green” subsidies are costing the average small business £250,000 a year. That’s ten jobs per firm. Making energy cheap is – as the industrial revolution proved – the quickest way to create jobs; making it expensive is the quickest way to lose them.

Not only are renewables far more expensive, intermittent and resource-depleting (their demand for steel and concrete is gigantic) than gas; they are also hugely more damaging to the environment, because they are so land-hungry. Wind kills birds and spoils landscapes; solar paves deserts; tidal wipes out the ecosystems of migratory birds; biofuel starves the poor and devastates the rain forest; hydro interrupts fish migration. Next time you hear somebody call these “clean” energy, don’t let him get away with it.

Wind cannot even help cut carbon emissions, because it needs carbon back-up, which is wastefully inefficient when powering up or down (nuclear cannot be turned on and off so fast). Even Germany and Denmark have failed to cut their carbon emissions by installing vast quantities of wind.

Yet switching to gas would hasten decarbonisation. In a combined cycle turbine gas converts to electricity with higher efficiency than other fossil fuels. And when you burn gas, you oxidise four hydrogen atoms for every carbon atom. That’s a better ratio than oil, much better than coal and much, much better than wood. Ausubel calculates that, thanks to gas, we will accelerate a relentless shift from carbon to hydrogen as the source of our energy without touching renewables.

To persist with a policy of pursuing subsidized renewable energy in the midst of a terrible recession, at a time when vast reserves of cheap low-carbon gas have suddenly become available is so perverse it borders on the insane. Nothing but bureaucratic inertia and vested interest can explain it.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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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