Monday, March 06, 2017

People are still laughing at Bill Nye, the non-science guy

Here is the best (and weirdest) example of cognitive dissonance you will ever see. The set-up is that Bill Nye, an engineer by training, and a proponent of science, is defending climate science on Tucker’s show.

The first weird thing is that Bill Nye starts by talking about cognitive dissonance being the only reason that anyone would be skeptical of global warming. But he seems to not understand the concept of cognitive dissonance because he believes only the other side could be experiencing it. The nature of cognitive dissonance is that you don’t know you’re in it when you’re in it. It is only obvious to observers. If Nye had been objective, he would have noted two equal possibilities: Either the skeptics are experiencing cognitive dissonance or the proponents of climate science are experiencing it. But whoever is in it can’t know. It is only obvious to the other side. That’s how it works.

Yes, I do the same thing all the time. I call out my critics for being in cognitive dissonance and act as if the problem couldn’t be on my end. But in my case, the context is usually that I’m teaching you how to spot it. And I also talk about the specific triggers and “tells” so you can check my work. This video has a clear trigger and an enormous tell. Best example you will ever see.

The set-up for the trigger is that Nye’s self-image is that of a rational supporter of science with a command of the facts about climate science. He has made a career recently of defending science, and climate science in particular. Nye’s ego depends on being consistent with his pro-science, rational stance. That’s who he is.

Tucker then asked Nye a simple question about climate science. He asked how much of the warming is caused by human activity. Nye’s entire ego depended on knowing whether human activity is contributing to climate change in a big way, a medium way, or a small way. Tucker wanted some details. How much difference do humans make? After all, Nye had said this was settled science. Tucker just wanted to know what that settled science said.

Nye didn’t know. And by not knowing that simple answer about the percentage of human contribution to warming – the only issue that really mattered to the topic – he proved in public that his opinions on science are not based on facts or knowledge. Nye tried and tried to dodge the question, but Tucker was relentless. That was the trigger. Nye could plainly see, thanks to Tucker’s simple question, that his belief in science was just a belief, because he didn’t actually know the science. When your self-image and ego get annihilated on live television, you can’t simply admit you have been ridiculous all along. Your brain can’t let you do that to yourself. So instead, it concocts weird hallucinations to force-glue your observations into some sort of semi-coherent movie in which you are not totally and thoroughly wrong. That semi-coherent movie will look like a form of insanity to observers.

Look for Nye to go totally mental in the last minute of the clip, changing the topic to political leaks for no apparent reason. That’s your tell. His brain just sort of broke right in front of you.

People do and say dumb things all the time, and it isn’t always cognitive dissonance. That’s why you look for the trigger to make sure the “tell” was what you thought it was.

To be fair, spotting cognitive dissonance is more like bird-watching than science. Sometimes you misidentify a bird. But this example is like an ostrich sitting on your lap. Hard to miss. Enjoy.


Diogenes searching for honest policies

Renewable energy is defective solution in search of a problem, money and power

Paul Driessen

The Greek philosopher Diogenes reportedly carried an oil lamp during the daytime, the better to help him find an honest man. People everywhere should join Congress and the Trump Administration in search of honest energy and climate policies – as too many existing policies were devised by special interests seeking money and power, and often using imaginary problems to justify their quest.

The health and environmental impacts from fossil fuels are well documented, though often exaggerated or even fabricated by activists, politicians, bureaucrats and companies with lofty agendas: securing climate research grants, and mandates and subsidies for renewable energy projects to replace fossil fuels; reducing economic growth and living standards in industrialized nations; and redistributing the world’s wealth, fundamentally transforming the global economy, and telling impoverished countries what kinds of energy and what level of economic development they will be permitted to have.

More often than not, proponents justify these agendas by insisting we must prevent dangerous manmade global warming and climate chaos, prevent unsustainable resource consumption, and safeguard people against purported technological risks. My multiple articles on the catechism of climate cataclysm … sustainability realities, absurdities and duplicities … and selective application of precautionary pabulum address the conceptual fallacies of these interchangeable, agenda-driving mantras.

All three are routinely defined, twisted, used and abused to block technologies that activists despise, and promote technologies and policies that advance their agendas and fill their coffers.

But beyond their glaring, often insurmountable conceptual problems are the practical issues. With what, exactly, will these agitators replace fossil fuels? Applying the same health and environmental standards they use against oil, natural gas and coal – just how clean, green, Earth-friendly, sustainable, climate-stabilizing, healthy, and human rights/social justice-oriented are their renewable energy alternatives?

If their alternatives are so wondrous, why do they still need permanent mandates, renewable portfolio standards, investment tax credits, production tax credits, feed-in tariffs, myriad other subsidies, exemptions from endangered species and other regulations, and laws requiring that utility companies buy their electricity whenever it is produced (even if it is not needed)? Why must they build and run fossil fuel “backup” power plants for the 50-85% of the time that wind and solar are not producing?

The following brief examination will hopefully guide more rigorous analyses of the impacts of these “technologies of the future” – aka wind, solar and biomass technologies that served mankind rather poorly for countless generations, until the fossil/nuclear era began, and now are supposed to serve us once again.

Probably the biggest single problem with any supposedly renewable, sustainable alternative is its horrendously low energy density: the amount of energy produced per acre. We can get far more electricity or fuel from a few dozen, hundred or thousand acres of oil, gas or coal production operations than we can from millions or tens of millions of acres of renewable energy projects.

Moreover, fossil fuel operations can often be conducted in the middle of farm fields or wildlife habitats – or the land can be reclaimed and returned to those uses once the energy has been extracted. Offshore oil and gas platforms actually create thriving habitats for marine life. Most renewable energy operations displace food crops or destroy wildlife habitats – and must do so in perpetuity.

And so we have corn as high as an elephant’s eye, across an area the size of Iowa (36 million acres) to produce ethanol that replaces 10% of US gasoline but also requires vast quantities of water, fertilizer, fuel and pesticides to grow the corn and turn it into fuel – instead of feeding hungry people.

We find bright yellow canola fields across more millions of acres in Montana, Saskatchewan, Germany and elsewhere, to produce biodiesel – and still more acreage devoted to switchgrass for ethanol and algae ponds for “advanced biofuels.” In Brazil, it’s millions of acres of sugarcane for ethanol, and millions more for other biofuels from palm oil, from areas that once were rainforests, “the Earth’s lungs,” as environmentalist groups like to say. Once teeming with wildlife, they are now monoculture energy plantations – so that we don’t have to desecrate Mother Earth by drilling holes in the ground to produce oil and natural gas: nature’s own biofuels, created over millions of years and stored for mankind’s benefit.

Of course, when these expensive, environment-intensive alternatives are burned, they send more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the same as fossil fuels do – on top of the CO2 that was burned by fuels and released from soils and clear-cut trees to produce the “climate-friendly renewable” energy.

Meanwhile, American and Canadian companies are cutting down millions of acres of forest habitats, and turning millions of trees into wood pellets that they truck to coastal ports and transport on oil-fueled cargo ships to England – to be hauled by truck and burned in place of coal to generate electricity. The pellets cost more than coal (which Britain still has in abundance), so utility companies receive huge taxpayer subsidies to make up the difference. One power plant received £450 million ($553 million) in 2015.

The financially and environmentally unsustainable scheme is justified on the ground that trees are renewable; so the scam helps Britain meet its climate change and renewable fuel obligations under various laws and treaties. Even though the trees-to-pellets-to-power process emits more carbon dioxide and pollution than coal-based power generation, the “wood fool” arrangement is considered to be “carbon neutral,” because growing replacement trees over the next century or two will absorb CO2.

If this sounds freaking dishonest and insane, it’s because it is freaking dishonest and insane. Diogenes must be turning summersaults in his grave. But there’s more.

On top of all this biofuel lunacy, we also have tens of thousands of wind turbines towering above fields, lakes, oceans and homes – butchering millions of birds and bats, and impairing the health of thousands of humans whose wellbeing is sacrificed to Big Wind profits. We’ve also got millions of solar panels sprawling across countless acres of desert and grassland habitats, to produce well under 1% of the world’s electricity. Their expensive, intermittent power reaches distant urban areas via thousands of miles of high-voltage transmission lines. They all require greenhouse gas-emitting backup power plants.

Those turbines, panels, transmission lines and backups require millions of tons of steel, copper, concrete, rare earth and other exotic metals, fiberglass and other materials – much of it produced under nonexistent health and environmental laws in faraway countries, where injury, illness, child labor and death run rampant … and are ignored by local, national and United Nations authorities and human rights activists.

Removing all these worn-out turbines and solar panels will cost billions of dollars that state and federal governments don’t have, and developers have rarely had to cover with bonds.

Finally, the energy produced from all these “planet-saving” enterprises is far more costly than what could be produced using fossil fuels. Poor families are hit hardest, as they must spend a much larger portion of their incomes on energy than middle class and wealthy families. Businesses, factories, hospitals and schools also face rising energy costs, and must lay off workers, reduce services or close their doors.

The impacts ricochet throughout communities and nations, adversely affecting living standards, nutrition, health and life spans. We are reminded once again: Corporate fraud affects a limited number of customers; government and activist fraud affects every taxpayer, citizen and consumer.

The essence of all these renewable fuel programs is embodied in the notion that we must capture methane from cow dung, to safeguard Earth’s climate from this “potent greenhouse gas.” The operable term is BS.

The US Congress and Trump Administration could become world leaders in returning honesty and sanity to energy, climate, economic and environmental discussions and policies. Let’s hope they do.

Via email

America First Energy Strategy Should Be Priority for Trump to Counter OPEC

For decades, conventional wisdom held that the United States would remain reliant on imported oil as domestic reserves were either too limited or too expensive to be accessible. Yet in the early years of this new century, a small group of American innovators tackled the shale formations in our nation’s heartland with new technology. The result rewrote the energy rulebook: vast supplies of domestic crude were produced, rural and industrial communities were reinvigorated, and our country’s oil imports were halved.

Despite our newly-tapped oil wealth, the energy industry was unconcerned about the possibility of global oversupply. The industry was confident that Saudi Arabia, the global swing producer and de facto leader of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Companies (OPEC), would take its usual approach and cut production levels. However, at the November 2014 OPEC meeting, Saudi Arabia and other member states refused to cut production, sending prices plummeting. In June 2014, the price of oil was $110 per barrel. By January 2016, prices had collapsed to $26.

This crash in oil prices has been kind to consumers. Average annual household gasoline spending dropped from $2,655 in 2011 to $2,090 in 2015. That is $565 that can be used to spend on bills, put food on the table, or put away for the future—approximately 20 percent of the average 2015 tax refund. However, the shale industry was decimated. Since January 2015, more than 220 oil companies have gone bankrupt, taking 150,000 jobs with them. Parts of the country that had enjoyed the energy boom were nudged back toward recession.

Furthermore, tremendous uncertainty following this price collapse prevented companies from investing in future production, with $100 billion in upstream spending cut from 2014 to 2016—paving the way for future supply shortages and price spikes. Although consumers are enjoying low pump prices now, the domestic needs of OPEC nations mean oil prices can rise as well as fall, and become a burden to American families once more.

It is these domestic needs, such as social spending to pacify restive populations, that has caused OPEC to shift its strategy again, creating more market volatility by bringing in Russia and others as part of a production “supercartel.” This group’s unprecedented influence over the global oil market comes from a combination of cheap crude and concentrated political power within its member states. Their national oil companies control 90 percent of global reserves, but are not free-market, profit-maximizing companies like American oil producers. They serve instead as arms of their respective governments, generating revenues to support regimes who don’t share our geopolitical priorities.

Because oil is the lifeblood of the U.S. economy, powering 92 percent of our vehicle fleet with no alternatives available at scale, OPEC’s hold over the global oil market jeopardizes our economic sovereignty. Oil is priced and traded globally, so no matter how much oil the U.S. produces, we will remain susceptible to the cartel’s actions. To counter our reliance upon this opaque market, we must develop a range of domestic policy responses.

First, we must produce more domestic resources here at home. Second, we must modernize our fuel efficiency standards to get more out of the oil we do consume. Third, we must encourage the adoption of alternative fuel vehicles that run on domestic and diverse energy sources including electricity, natural gas, and hydrogen. Finally, we must examine how OPEC’s activities undermine our economic interests
and strategic priorities as we maintain the security of global oil supplies.

A bipartisan group of Congressmen is working to address the last recommendation. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Collin Peterson (D-MN), Trent Franks (R-AZ) and David Scott (D-GA) have introduced H.R. 545, which would create a Congressional commission that investigates OPEC’s influence over the global oil market, assesses current American efforts to mitigate the cartel’s effects, and proposes a range of answers —diplomatic, legal, trade, regulatory and statutory—to President Trump and Congress.

The time for action is now. The President has prioritized energy security in his America First Energy Plan, stating that his administration wants to, “Become, and stay, totally independent of any need to import energy from the OPEC cartel or any nations hostile to our interests.”

With President Trump in office, the opportunity to take on OPEC’s disproportionate role in the global oil market has presented itself. If this commission is established soon, it has the potential to set the President’s energy agenda for the next four years—and make sure, most importantly, that our country’s energy system truly works in our own national interest.


Wind Energy Is Not the Answer

Urban voters may like the idea of using more wind and solar energy, but the push for large-scale renewables is creating land-use conflicts in rural regions from Maryland to California and Ontario to Loch Ness.

Since 2015, more than 120 government entities in about two dozen states have moved to reject or restrict the land-devouring, subsidy-fueled sprawl of the wind industry.

The backlash continued last month when a judge in Maryland ruled that the possible benefits of a proposed 17-turbine project did "not justify or offset subjecting the local community to the adverse impacts that will result from the wind project's construction and operation." The judge's ruling probably spells the end of an eight-year battle that pitted local homeowners and Allegany County against the developer of the 60-megawatt project.

Objections to the encroachment of wind energy installations don't fit the environmentalists' narrative. The backlash undermines the claim -- often repeated by climate activists such as founder Bill McKibben and Stanford engineering professor Mark Jacobson -- that we can run our entire economy on nothing but energy from the wind and sun. Many of those same activists routinely demonize natural gas and hydraulic fracturing even though the physical footprint of gas production is far smaller than that of wind. Three years ago, the late David J.C. MacKay, then a professor at the University of Cambridge, calculated that wind energy requires about 700 times more land to produce the same amount of energy as a fracking site.

Rural residents are objecting to wind projects to protect their property values and viewsheds. They don't want to live next door to industrial-scale wind farms. They don't want to see the red-blinking lights atop the turbines, all night, every night for the rest of their lives. Nor do they want to be subjected to the audible and inaudible noise the turbines produce.

Even in California, which has mandated that 50 percent of the electricity sold in the state be produced from renewable energy sources by 2030, there is resistance to wind power. In 2015, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to ban wind turbines in LA's unincorporated areas. At the hearing on the measure, then-Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich said the skyscraper-sized turbines "create visual blight (and) contradict the county's rural dark skies ordinance."

In New York, angry fishermen are suing to stop an offshore wind project that could be built in the heart of one of the best squid fisheries on the Eastern Seaboard. Three upstate counties, Erie, Orleans and Niagara, as well as the towns of Yates and Somerset, are fighting a proposed 200-megawatt project that aims to put dozens of turbines on the shores of Lake Ontario. As in California, New York has a "50 by 30" renewable-energy mandate.

Outside the U.S., about 90 towns in Ontario have declared themselves "unwilling hosts" to wind projects. In April 2016, a wind project near Scotland's famous Loch Ness was rejected by local authorities because of its potential negative effect on tourism. Poland and the German state of Bavaria have effectively banned wind turbines by implementing a rule that allows turbines to be located no closer than 10 times their height to homes or other sensitive areas.

The defeat of the Maryland wind project came as a relief to K. Darlene Park, a resident of Frostburg and the president of Allegany Neighbors & Citizens for Home Owners Rights. "We were up against an army of suits," she told me. "It's like a brick has been taken off our shoulders." Park's tiny group relied on volunteers and a budget of about $20,000 as it fought the turbines all the way to the state's public service commission.

Neither the communications director nor the chief executive of the American Wind Energy Association, which spends more than $20 million per year promoting wind power, would comment on the rural opposition to wind turbines. Their refusal isn't surprising. If the wind lobby and their myriad allies at the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental groups acknowledge turbines' negative effects on landscapes and rural quality of life, it would subvert their claims that wind energy is truly green.

Just as problematic for the industry's future: to increase wind-energy production to the levels needed to displace significant quantities of coal, oil and natural gas will require erecting more and taller turbines (new models reach to 700 feet). But the more turbines that get installed, and the taller they are, the more nearby residents are likely to object.

Wind energy simply requires too much territory. That means we can't rely on it for major cuts in emissions. Indeed, the more wind energy encroaches on small towns and suburbs, the more resistance it will face. That resistance will come from homeowners like Park who told me, "We feel this renewable energy push is an attack on rural America."


Does Denmark have the reliable "renewable" electricity that eludes "Green" South Australia?

Someone below is not telling the whole story.  Unmentioned is the Skagerrak interconnector between Denmark and Norway -- which enables Denmark to import Nowegian hydro-power when the wind isn't blowing. There are also interconnecters to Sweden and Germany that import coal and nuclear power when the wind isn't blowing.  And sometimes the wind is so still that it provides virtually no power to Denmark.

And the statement that on "Samso, an island in Denmark, renewables provide 100 per cent of the electricity" is misleading.  On Samso, electricity is generated using a mix of wind, solar and straw-fired power plants.  If straw-fired power plants are renewable so are coal-fired plants.  There is no likelihood of running out of either straw or coal.

Also unmentioned is the cost factor, but it is  known that Denmark has paid heavily for its wind plants and some 2010 figures suggest that  Denmark's wind industry is almost completely dependent on taxpayer subsidies, and Danes pay the highest electricity rates of any industrialised nation.

Further, when the wind does decide to blow, Denmark sends fully half of its very expensive, taxpayer-subsidized wind power to its neighbors at cut rates, in return for said neighbors dialing up or down its hydro power or nukes at other times (which, most of the time, means "up").

As ever, it's a very different story when you know the facts that the Green/Left leave out.  It's fake news below

THE man who helped create the world’s first 100 per cent renewable island, and who lives in a country that gets 50 per cent of its electricity from wind and other sources, says he has to travel to Australia for a blackout.

Soren Hermansen told that blackouts are not common in Denmark, which gets about 50 per cent of its electricity from renewables. “I have to go to Australia to deal with a blackout, we never have blackouts, this is not bragging,” he said. “We have a very powerful grid — we don’t experience any failure.”

Denmark has managed to successfully integrate its renewables into its electricity system but it has also avoided some of the problems that Australia is experiencing by burying its distribution lines underground.

This helps avoid blackouts caused by severe weather, which led to South Australia’s statewide blackout in October.

While underground cabling would be very expensive to implement in Australia, taking out the storm factor, Mr Hermansen said Denmark’s system showed it was possible to successfully integrate renewable energy into the electricity network and create a stable system — without reliance on coal-fired power.

Debate has been raging in Australia about whether the country needs coal-fired power to provide a stable electricity system, in light of the a number of blackouts in South Australia, which gets about 40 per cent of it electricity from renewables.

But even on Samso, an island in Denmark where renewables provide 100 per cent of the electricity, Mr Hermansen said supply was very stable.

The island has a cable connecting it to the mainland but Mr Hermansen said it was used “rarely”, maybe two to three per cent of the time, at a maximum.

Most of the time, the island is a net exporter of electricity to the mainland.

Samso is an island of about 4000 people, and gets its electricity mainly from wind turbines, both on the island and offshore.

Five of the 10 offshore wind turbines are owned by the local government, three are privately owned mainly by local farmers who pooled their money to fund the project, and the last two are owned by a co-operative of small investors.

Mr Hermansen spoke at the national Community Energy Congress in Melbourne this week, and said local community support was one of the keys to creating a successful renewables grid.

“It requires people to be educated and informed, and to take responsibility for energy consumption and generation,” he said.

“(In the past) they were just consumers in a shop buying energy ... they got a bill every month, they paid it and that’s it.”

Nowadays electricity grids are becoming decentralised. Consumers can participate in the energy system, through things like installing rooftop solar panels that feed energy into the grid or by contributing to community electricity projects.

There are already community-funded solar projects in Australia, including an investor fund that raised $17,500 from 150 people to install a 29.9kW solar farm on the roof of Young Henry’s Brewery in Sydney.

It’s these types of community projects that are helping to generate electricity in Denmark.

Wind power alone produces about 40 per cent of Denmark’s electricity and the country aims to increase this by 100 per cent by 2050.

Power stations help generate the rest but instead of burning coal, many of them use local materials.

Power stations in forested areas are fed with wood chips, those in farming areas used manure and in the city, waste is incinerated.

The country is also innovative in its heating system, developing district heating networks to collect hot water or steam produced by power stations and transport this via water pipes to heat surrounding homes.

This supplies more than 60 per cent of homes in Denmark with heating and hot water. “It reduces our dependency on oil and also produces electricity,” Mr Hermansen said.

Denmark’s last coal fired power station has been decommissioned but is on standby mode until 2024. There is also some natural gas and LNG powered gas stations to help make up any shortfalls.

“The energy sector said this was not possible 10 to 15 years ago but it is happening now with no impact on industry or the security of the system,” Mr Hermansen said.

When asked whether Australia could follow Denmark’s lead, Mr Hermansen said while he didn’t know all the details of the system but it seemed viable.

“You have a lot of natural resources, there’s a lot of wind and other materials,” he said.


"Green" SA faces more power woes after generator goes offline

They just don't have enough baseload capacity after they turned off their coal-fired stations.  Any unusual event can now throw them.  They have virtually no capacity in reserve.  So when bad things happen they struggle to cope.  They need those coal-fired generators. There is no alternative

South Australians have been asked to conserve electricity and consider turning off appliances to avoid potential load-shedding after three units at Torrens Island Power Station went offline following spot fires.

Four spot fires and a possible explosion at the power plant resulted in three units generating a combined 400 megawatts of power going offline at 3:33pm.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) also reported a loss of 200 megawatts of power from the nearby Pelican Point Power Station, which tripped as a result of the Torrens Island incident.

It has asked the market to respond, declaring there was a lack of reserve power available in SA.

There are fears this could lead to load-shedding — ordered by AEMO when power demand outstrips supply — and which most recently led to 90,000 Adelaide customers being switched off during a heatwave in February.

SA Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said South Australians should turn off all non-essential items when they go home tonight, such as dishwashers and washing machines.

"AEMO has requested as a precautionary measure to help avoid potential load-shedding that people conserve electricity and run air conditioners at a higher temperature of about 26 degrees," he said.

"To meet the drop in supply and manage risk within the system, AEMO has directed available additional generation to turn on."

A Metropolitan Fire Service spokesperson said they sent four appliances to the site and "on arrival found that on-site AGL personnel had extinguished a series of small spot fires using dry power fire extinguishes".

Torrens Island is the state's largest power generator, with a total of eight gas-fired units that generate up to 1,280 megawatts.

It was not clear how many units were in use at the time of the outage and the extent of the damage and time it will take to be repaired remains unknown.

The reliability of SA's power supply has been a controversial topic since September last year when wild weather resulted in a state-wide blackout.

Another blackout occurred in December, when an electrical fault on the Victorian side of the border prompted the failure of the Heywood Interconnector, which was contributing about 220 megawatts into SA's mix

SA Power Networks said the cause of the Torrens Island fires was being investigated and did not appear to be caused by its distribution network.

Mr Koutsantonis said the outage was not caused by "some inherent fragility of the system" but was due to fires and the close proximity of large generators to each other.

"The restart is occurring during a very high demand [period]," he said. "Is it frustrating? Yes absolutely.

"The important thing here now is rather than a blame game is to try and help people help the market operator manage the system for the next couple of hours by keeping the demand low."

Wholesale power prices in SA spiked and hit the maximum allowable limit of $14,000 per megawatt hour.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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