Sunday, August 11, 2019

Climate change threatens the world’s food supply, United Nations warns

Hang on! Aren't we always told that eating our food is bad for the planet?  Don't we need to cut back our food consumption to save the planet?  There have been many Warmist articles to that effect. But now we hear that we are running out of food and that is bad.  I would have thought that running low on food would save the planet!  Shouldn't Greenies be cheering about the "news" below?

Sounds like the Warmists are having their cake and eating it too. Or is that not having their cake?

Realistically, however, the guff below is typical Leftist tunnel vision stuff.  They see only the things they want to see -- not the full picture.  What they ignore is that global warming would open up vast areas of Northern Canada and Southern Siberia to farming and food production.

The climate there would not only be warmer but it would also be wetter.  And with high levels of atmospheric CO2, the crops would need less water anyway.  Canadian farmers would love to get their combines onto another million acres of wheatland. Most grains are already in chronic glut and global warming would worsen it.  A downpour of food, not a shortage, would follow global warming

The world’s land and water resources are being exploited at “unprecedented rates,” a new United Nations report warns, which combined with climate change is putting dire pressure on the ability of humanity to feed itself.

The report, prepared by more than 100 experts from 52 countries and released in summary form in Geneva on Thursday, found that the window to address the threat is closing rapidly. A half-billion people already live in places turning into desert, and soil is being lost between 10 and 100 times faster than it is forming, according to the report.

Climate change will make those threats even worse, as floods, drought, storms, and other types of extreme weather threaten to disrupt, and over time shrink, the global food supply. Already, more than 10 percent of the world’s population remains undernourished, and some authors of the report warned in interviews that food shortages could lead to an increase in cross-border migration.

A particular danger is that food crises could develop on several continents at once, said Cynthia Rosenzweig, a senior research scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and one of the lead authors of the report. “The potential risk of multi-breadbasket failure is increasing,” she said. “All of these things are happening at the same time.”

The report also offered a measure of hope, laying out pathways to addressing the looming food crisis, though they would require a major reevaluation of land use and agriculture worldwide as well as consumer behavior. Proposals include increasing the productivity of land, wasting less food, and persuading more people to shift their diets away from cattle and other types of meat.

“One of the important findings of our work is that there are a lot of actions that we can take now. They’re available to us,” Rosenzweig said. “But what some of these solutions do require is attention, financial support, enabling environments.”

The summary was released Thursday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international group of scientists convened by the United Nations that pulls together a wide range of existing research to help governments understand climate change and make policy decisions. The IPCC is writing a series of climate reports, including one last year on the disastrous consequences if the planet’s temperature rises just 1.5 degrees Celsius above its preindustrial levels, as well as an upcoming report on the state of the world’s oceans.

Some authors also suggested that food shortages are likely to affect poorer parts of the world far more than richer ones. That could increase a flow of immigration that is already redefining politics in North America, Europe and other parts of the world.

“People’s lives will be affected by a massive pressure for migration,” said Pete Smith, a professor of plant and soil science at the University of Aberdeen and one of the report’s lead authors. “People don’t stay and die where they are. People migrate.”

Between 2010 and 2015 the number of migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras showing up at the United States’ border with Mexico increased fivefold, coinciding with a dry period that left many with not enough food and was so unusual that scientists suggested it bears the signal of climate change.

Barring action on a sweeping scale, the report said, climate change will accelerate the danger of severe food shortages. As a warming atmosphere intensifies the world’s droughts, flooding, heat waves, wildfires, and other weather patterns, it is speeding up the rate of soil loss and land degradation, the report concludes.

Higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere — a greenhouse gas put there mainly by the burning of fossil fuels — will also reduce food’s nutritional quality, even as rising temperatures cut crop yields and harm livestock.

Those changes threaten to exceed the ability of the agriculture industry to adapt.

In some cases, the report says, a changing climate is boosting food production because, for example, warmer temperatures will mean greater yields of some crops at higher latitudes. But on the whole, the report finds that climate change is already hurting the availability of food because of decreased yields and lost land from erosion, desertification and rising seas, among other things.

Overall, if emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise, so will food costs, according to the report, affecting people around the world.


Past, present and future progress requires mining

Metal and mineral needs are constant, constantly evolving, requiring new mines

John M. Clema

Civilization’s progress has always been heavily dependent on farming and mining. The Stone Age didn’t end because mankind ran out of stones.

Instead, the discovery, mining and processing of metals like copper, bronze and iron, followed by the development of steel, led to progressively sharper, more effective tools, improved construction techniques, and other engineering and technological achievements. Nonmetallic minerals have also been and remain vital to civilization and progress.

Minerals – or their scarcity – have precipitated wars, but more often have led to certain countries becoming dominant in manufacturing vital products such as computer chips.

Factors that first influence mining feasibility include the grade of the ore, its location and access to the deposit. Low grades that may have made mining initially less feasible may become feasible over time as prices for those particular minerals increase.

Until the last few decades, mining in the United States was not only considered necessary, but was supported as an honorable effort by hardworking men and women who risked their lives to extract the ores. As attitudes about mining and miners changed, potential mineralized areas were increasingly made off limits to mining – even before any effort was made to evaluate mineral prospects.

Refusing to assess an area’s mineral potential and alternate uses is foolish and contrary to sound public policy. It makes valuable resources inaccessible to industries and societies that need them for vitally important technologies, job creation, government tax and royalty revenues, national security and modern living standards. Shunning our mineral wealth forces America to import minerals from countries that pay far less attention to environmental safeguards and worker safety standards than we do.

For example, to protect forests from exaggerated mining risks, Montana has failed to commission a reasonably sized mine for over 30 years. During the same period, its ideology-based land management practices resulted in tens of millions of acres of timberland and wildlife habitats burning, scarce topsoil washing away, and many rivers, streams and lakes being polluted. While millions of acres of Montana forest burn every year, America purchases timber and lumber from Canada.

The defunding and closure of the US Bureau of Mines, increasing restrictions on patenting mining claims, and unnecessarily burdensome regulations on already patented claims have crippled the nation’s hardrock mining industry. Meanwhile, other government agencies (such as the US Forest Service) acquired broad environmental mandates and hired personnel who oppose mining and have blocked new exploration and mining permits.

Many experts believe we are in an economic war with China, and various activist groups, legislators, regulators and judges support this for their own individual reasons. Requirements for rare earth and other critical metals are likely one of the significant factors leading to American companies like Apple moving their manufacturing to China.

Today the United States produces only about 40% of the copper and other metals that our industries require. Scarce and rare metals are generally found in smaller deposits that require underground operations that are of little interest to large mining companies but could be profitably mined in America, especially Alaska and our western states.

For instance, the Chinese currently control 80% of global tungsten mining and marketing. The USA has no active mines for this essential metal, which has the highest melting point and tensile strength of any metal. It is used in high-speed cutting tools, wear-resistant super-alloy coatings, cell phones, amour-piercing bullets, metallic skins on hypersonic weapons, and many other applications.

A mining consortium that I was involved with made a major tungsten discovery back in the 1970s in Montana. Data from drilling cores was excellent but was lost when the company closed. For more than eight years we have been trying to get a permit to redrill this site – but constantly changing rules and decisions have prevented us from moving forward. For example:

1) Federal Land is administered by different agencies operating under conflicting rules that are interpreted by officials who have no mining experience or interest in exploration and mining projects that would enable the United States to compete better with countries like China.

Reconstituting a Bureau of Mines with uniform rules that apply throughout the country, overseen by people with knowledge of the mining industry, would help overcome these problems.

2) Mining claims currently require yearly fees, while awaiting a Permit for Land Disturbance from government agencies. The process can drag on for years.

A time limit should be set for the government to grant a permit. While mine development is progressing, yearly fees should be abated unless progress is halted or other unforeseen developments occur. Mine development should generate yearly reports to the Bureau that should be stored as part of the information on the particular site. Once a discovery has been established, the claim should be patented to establish firm ownership and royalties based on production.

3) If a mining project is abandoned, vital mine and ore body data are frequently lost, and getting mining underway again by a new operator can be stymied for years.

In such cases, previous rights to the claim should be forfeited; regulations should require that data generated by the mining project be turned over to the US Geological Survey and/or new Bureau of Mines, so that it is not lost and is stored for potential future projects; and new permits should be issued in a timely manner under guidelines just suggested.

4) Federal and state government agencies have largely prevented the discovery and development of rare earth and other critical minerals resources, by limiting access to potential sites.

Instead, efforts to find, mine and process vital minerals should be supported and encouraged by people who have adequate knowledge and backgrounds to understand the importance of such deposits and how companies today can conduct all needed operations in ways that protect wildlife habitats and air and water quality. Establishing a new Bureau of Mines with a staff that includes miners and engineers would be an important first step.

Only by making these changes can lawmakers and regulators help ensure the independence and future success of the United States, its defense and high-technology industries, and its security – in the face of growing dependence on foreign sources for the vast majority of its critical minerals. With increasingly powerful countries like Russia and China supplying many of those minerals, and forming strategic alliances, American mineral independence is more vital now than ever.

Via email

Sweden’s Biggest Cities Face Power Shortage After Fuel-Tax Hike

Sweden’s introduction on Thursday of a tax aimed at phasing out the nation’s last remaining coal and gas plants to curb global warming comes with an unintended consequence for some of its biggest cities.

Hiking threefold a levy on fossil fuels used at local power plants will make such facilities unprofitable and utilities from Stockholm Exergi AB to EON SE have said they will halt or cut power production.

The move means that grids in the capital and Malmo won’t be able to hook up new facilities including homes, transport links and factories. While Sweden doesn’t have a shortage of power, there’s not enough cables to ship it to the biggest cities.

“We don’t have a problem with generating enough power in Sweden, we have a problem with getting it to where its needed,” Magnus Hall, chief executive officer of state-owned utility Vattenfall AB, said in an interview. “This law was added with short notice and I am not sure a proper analysis of it was made.”

The tax was introduced in January in a budget deal between the Center Party, Liberals, Social Democrats and the Greens after record long 18 weeks of negotiations. As only one of 73 points hashed out between the political fractions to reach a compromise, time for thorough analysis was probably slim.

The tax, aimed at spurring the shift to renewable energy, comes on top of carbon-emission pollution rights that tripled last year and have gained another 18% this year to their highest level since 2006.

Power output from Stockholm Exergi’s Vartaverket, EON’s Heleneholmverket and Goteborg Energi AB’s Ryaverket will stop or be heavily cut as soon as the law is introduced, although operators said they will still be used for district heating.

Sweden gets most of its electricity from hydro, nuclear and wind power and exported 11% of the output last year. About 10% is still generated in combined heat and power plants that mostly uses biofuels, but some older facilities still burns coal or gas.

Because of the urbanization, demand for electricity in many Swedish cities is starting to outgrow capacity and some have already been forced to refuse new connections to avoid black outs.

“Combined heat and power plants must carry their own cost to the environment, even if they have an important role to play for the supply of energy,” Anders Ygeman, minister for energy and digitalization, said in an emailed statement. “The tax will contribute to the ongoing away shift from fossil fuels.”

Ygeman said it is still too early to say what impact the new tax will have, but there are already examples of its impact. Some new daycare centers have to wait for months to be connected to the grid in Stockholm. A bread factory in Malmo was denied a license to expand because it would consume too much power.

Ulf Kristersson, the moderate party opposition leader, said the capacity crisis fazing Swedish cities is enough reason to renegotiate a current five-party energy agreement to slow down the phaseout of nuclear and local plants burning fossil fuels. Without a solution, both Moderate and Christian Democrats are threatening to abandon the pact agreed in 2016.

“We need a new agreement that solves the situation we have now,” Ulf kristersson said in an interview at the end of June. “I think when we approach autumn that issue needs to come to some kind of conclusion.”


U.S. natural gas is the new, global, soft power weapon

United States (U.S.) carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the power sector, and broader economy have declined 61 percent between 2006-2014; mainly from “switching from coal-to-gas-powered generation,” according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Second Installment of the Quadrennial Energy Review, January 2017. These environmentally sound numbers from higher use of natural gas can also be translated globally to help with pollution in countries such as China, India, and the entire continent of Africa.

The U.S. now uses natural gas converted to liquid natural gas (LNG) from shale deposits in states such as Texas, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania to transform geopolitics. Lower LNG prices stymie terrorist-financing budgets in Tehran and lower the ability for Putin’s Russia to weaponize their energy assets for geopolitical adventures in Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, Central Asian and the Middle East.

How this new soft power of energy transforms the world economically and positively towards western-aligned institutions is through increasing LNG exports, which “hit a new record high at 4.7 billion cubic feet per day in May 2019.” The U.S. is approximately the world’s third largest LNG exporter. Illustrating this power has seen the U.S. add four new LNG trains “with a combined capacity of 2.4Bcf/d come online since November 2018.”

Countries with heavy LNG deposits can transform their national fate and redirect their foreign policy and national security initiatives without deploying their militaries. Energy economics overtakes military significance, because everyone needs the power generation and electricity that clean burning, LNG exports provide.

Positively, it means the U.S. no longer has to rely on Middle Eastern authoritarians to power its economy, and the world order that has depended on the U.S. for global security since the end of World War II (WWII). Negatively, since the U.S. no longer needs Saudi oil or Qatari LNG then the debate over protecting the Strait of Hormuz, where “90 percent of oil exported from the Gulf, (and) about 20 percent of the world’s supply passed through,” would be a non-starter.

Europe, led by Germany, is where the LNG’s soft power persuasiveness is changing continent-wide dynamics. In the first half of 2019 according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA): “Roughly 40 percent of U.S. LNG exports went to Europe, and in January, Europe surpassed Asia as a buyer of U.S. LNG for the first time.” This is a direct, soft power approach to countering Germany moving forward with the Russian-backed Nord Stream 2 pipeline that the U.S. and other European countries have deeply opposed.

Additionally, this newfound purchasing of U.S. LNG in Europe is another poker chip without military forces against Turkey leaning away from NATO over the purchase of the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft weapon system, and through continued encroachment by Turkish vessels off Cyprus’ coast illegally drilling for oil and natural gas. This puts the entire Mediterranean security profile at risk, says, “Athens’ newly elected government.”

But coercion, and diplomatic solutions, without shots being fired, or crippling sanctions, are the opportunities the soft power of LNG provide large and small nation-states. With the U.S. since 2017 being the world’s top producer of petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons this offers opportunities never dreamed of during the Cold War when it was the U.S. and the west versus Russia for global supremacy.

Beating Russia at weaponization of oil and natural gas can be traced to 2009 when “U.S. natural gas production surpassed that of Russia.” Russian firms heavily influenced or owned by the Kremlin – Rosneft and Gazprom – took a serious blow, which meant they no longer had free reign to manipulate prices in Central Asia, Eastern and Western Europe whenever it suited Moscow’s needs.

As an example, the first cargo delivery of LNG arrived in Poland earlier this summer from PGNiG (a Polish firm), and U.S. LNG provider Cheniere Energy at President Lech Kaczyński LNG Terminal in Świnoujście. The long-term contract, which was signed in November of 2018, will total approximately 39 bcm of natural gas over the 24 year period of the agreement.

Piotr Woźniak, President of PGNiG Management Board said:

“Our portfolio of contracts with U.S. suppliers covers over 9 billion cubic meters of natural gas after regasification annually – that is more than we import from Russia. Such a volume strengthens Poland’s energy security, but also gives us the opportunity to actively participate in LNG trading on the global market.”

This bolsters “energy relations” between Poland and the U.S. without involving military friction that normally precipitates NATO movements against Russia. Instead, U.S. LNG blocks Russian energy from interfering in Polish internal affairs or economic development.

Global security and European Union foreign policy against Russian LNG will also speed ahead in the coming years and decades ahead. New oil and natural gas project spending is expected to jump five-fold in 2019, according to Wood Mackenzie. Even smaller, geopolitical players like Mexico are seeking ways to boost their natural gas production 50% through government-owned, oil firm, Petroleo Mexicanos (PEMEX).

Fossil fuel – particularly, natural gas and/or LNG – will be at the forefront when it relates to soft power, national security, and robust economic growth for mature and emerging markets. Natural gas markets are dominated by U.S. energy decisions translated into policy more than ever before, “as Washington prosecutes a trade war with China and takes a hard line on Iran.”

The dominance takes place, because U.S. gross imports of crude and natural gas have steadied or declined whereas “rising LNG exports provide another point of US entry into world energy markets.” This balances world LNG markets, provides stability, and moves international energy trade forward in a soft power direction and platform over the weaponization of energy assets seen from Russia, China and Iran.

There is an LNG, soft power drama playing out on the world stage to to engage international relations. LNG keeps major wars from erupting, and that is a positive economic and human longevity aspect of energy that few people, companies and governments seem to understand these days.


Great Barrier Reef run-off rules rile farmers

This is all about another unproven Greenie theory.  There is no good evidence that farm runoff damages the reef.  There is in fact good evidence that it does not. There is practically no agriculture bordering the reef in the top half of the Eastern Cape York peninsula yet there has been a lot of reef damage there.  Farmers are being burdened by restrictions and bureaucracy for no proven benefit

Contentious moves to put added restrictions on farmers and development have emotions running high along this stretch of the central Queensland coast. The state Labor government is planning new legislation that will provide for much greater supervision of agricultural practices.

“Onshore activity will always have an impact,” Dunlop says. “The question is where the intervention point should be. Nutrient loads are coming out of the Fitzroy River and from developments from population growth along the coast. There is discharge from ­inadequate sewage treatment works and manure from household pets from all these coastal suburbs.”

The duty of care, Dunlop says, should be bigger than beating up on farmers.

Great Barrier Reef protection regulations already apply to the environmentally relevant ­activities of all commercial sugar ­cane cultivation and grazing on properties of more than 2000ha in the Wet Tropics, Burdekin and Mackay Whitsunday catchment areas. Canegrowers and graziers are required to comply with farming practices that include applying fertilisers and chemicals using prescribed methodologies and keeping associated records. But until now there have been no restrictions in the Fitzroy and Burnett-Mary reef catchments.

The new legislation, which could be voted on as early as this month, will set nutrient and sediment pollution load limits for each of the six reef catchments and will limit fertiliser use for sugar cane, grazing, bananas, other horticulture crops and grains production and to agricultural activities in all Great Barrier Reef catchments.

Advisers will be required to keep records of farms they work with and provide them to governments on request. Requests could also be made for agricultural data that may assist in determining where over-application of fertiliser is occurring. Measures will also be introduced to address extra nutrient and sediment loads from new cropping to achieve no net ­decline in reef water quality from new developments.

A parliamentary committee has said it is satisfied there is sufficient evidence that links agricultural land use with adverse effects to water quality, and that this ­affects the Great Barrier Reef.

It has not accepted arguments that there is insufficient evidence to make this connection. The committee notes the difficulties in capturing the data specific to indivi­dual properties and says “scientific modelling is an adequate and ­reliable way of providing and ­assessing data”.

The new laws will require data from the agricultural sector that may assist in determining where over-application of fertiliser, and therefore high rates of nutrient run-off, may be occurring.

It is intended that the new laws will begin later this year, with imple­mentation staged across three years. There will be heavy fines for non-compliance. Controversially, the limits set in legislation can be changed in future by the director-general without having to go back to parliament.

Bundaberg Canegrowers is leading the charge against the new laws. “They are assuming we are dumb as dogs and we are farming like grandad used to with horses,” Bundaberg Canegrowers chief executive Dale Holliss says.

His group is questioning the rationale for extending laws to a region with a vastly different climate and rainfall. Holliss fears that once introduced, the targets set for improved water quality simply cannot be met. Canegrowers see the regulations as part of a broader political push that is loaded with unintended consequences for the rural sector.

“It hasn’t been thought through,” Holliss says. “Everyone cares but why are you imposing more regulation on our struggling economy? Vegetables from this region are sold to major super­markets right around the nation.

“The Bundaberg region supplies 80 per cent of Australia’s sweet potatoes, 42 per cent of avocado and 40 per cent of maca­damia. It supplies the largest field-grown tomatoes in the country.”

Together with grazing, all will be captured by the new laws.

Holliss says he believes sugar cane has been singled out because there are not many votes in it and the industry is visible.

“Cane is not king here but it is a cornerstone tenant,” he says. “The irrigation system here that makes everything possible is as a result of cane. The port is as a result of cane. The foundry is as a result of cane.”

Analysis by canegrowers shows that for every dollar earned by cane there is a $6.20 return to the Queensland economy.

For Holliss, it smacks of politics. “A lot of this comes back to people in southeast Queensland trying to shore up votes and selling the bush out of it,” he says.

Research by farm groups claims that if all cane were removed from the system, it would still not be sufficient to meet the targets. Most sediment comes from natural processes.

However, Capricorn Conservation Council spokeswoman Sherie Bruce says the regulations are needed to maintain the Great Barrier Reef’s World Heritage status.

“To keep UNESCO World Heritage status they have to comply with outcomes, so the science is showing we are not going to meet those outcomes on water quality,” Bruce says.

She says self-regulation is favoured by the industry but it has failed. “The LNP allowed that to happen for a long time and then you can see only 3 per cent undertook self-regulation and the rest didn’t want to do it.

“To get the outcome they want for water quality to protect the reef, the state government committee recommended that regulation was the way to go,” she says.

“The Queensland government has an obligation under UNESCO to introduce that.” Bruce says she can understand that farmers are saying they have an issue with the data, but “I don’t have a problem”, she says. “It is peer-reviewed.”

Conservation groups cite a ­recent paper in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, which found corals in the central and southern sections of the reef would need improvements in water quality of between 6 per cent and 17 per cent to keep their recovery rates in line with projected ­increases in coral bleaching.

Australian Marine Conservation Society director Imogen Zethoven says the canegrowers’ campaign is “disappointing” when the reef needs all the help it can get. “Getting the water cleaned up was a key promise that Australia made to the World Heritage committee when it was considering putting the reef on the ‘in danger’ list in 2015,” Zethoven says.

She says the science showing that the reef’s corals are being hit hard by climate change and poor water quality is overwhelming.

A 2017 scientific consensus statement says improving the quality of the water flowing from the land to the reef is critical for the Great Barrier Reef’s long-term health and resilience to the effects of climate change. The statement says sediments, nutrients and pesticides flowing into reef waters ­affect the health of coral and seagrass habitats, making the reef less able to withstand or recover from events such as the coral bleaching in 2016 and 2017.

Holliss isn’t completely buying it. “My personal view is I think there is that much money around associated with reef science and lots of people find reasons to investigate things so they can get that rich succulent funding stream into their area.”

But Zethoven says “the fact that the canegrowers group is also now trying to attack the science, while claiming they are doing the right thing to protect it, is deeply disappointing”.

When it conducted its inquiry into the new legislation, the parliamentary committee received submissions from around the world including the US, Canada, Germany, Italy and The Netherlands, as well as conservation groups and farmers.

The Environmental Defenders Office told the committee that a failure to act appropriately would result in Queensland and Australia not meeting their commitments as a state and a nation to improve our management of the reef.

“We will be shamed in the face of the international community, let alone have the prospect of a dead reef in the decade to come,” the EDO said.

Several submissions were received from individuals and businesses who identified as working in the agricultural industry in a reef catchment area.

“The majority of these submitters did not support the bill,” the committee report says. But it has recommended the bill be passed.

Tourism operator and reef guardian Peter Gash has sympathies for all sides.

“Down here the southern reef has the geographical advantage that it is further off the coast and any run-off that happens generally doesn’t reach it,” says Gash. “In my time I have only seen run-off get to Lady Elliot (island) once from a big flood on the Burnett.

“I come from the farm. I can see both sides. The first thing we need to do is stop overreacting. We all need to work together as partners. Certainly there is no doubt that some run-offs can do some damage to the reefs, but how much and where is it worse than others and how can we work with our farming practices to improve that?”

Gash says farmers have every right to be concerned. “Farmers are long-term thinkers,” he says. “I don’t think there is any doubt that there have been some things done that farmers look back on now and go, ‘I wish grandpa didn’t do that.’

“But it’s not just farming. It ­applies to industrial and residential developments as well.”



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.  

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