Category: Climate Action

Ketchup & Climate Action

Washington (GGM) Analysis | November 17, 2019
NoreenByLine-a by Noreen Wise

I was really proud of myself this weekend when I was grocery shopping. I promised myself on the way to the store that I would follow through with my commitment to cut plastic from my grocery list, and would no longer buy my beloved ketchup in a plastic container. I was even willing to pay more for the glass.

ST-SAGA-CovFrnt-72-300But when I arrived in front of the condiment section, wasn’t I shocked to discover that there wasn’t a single brand of ketchup in bottles. This was mind boggling, especially after making my way up and down the various aisles, and seeing so many products packaged in glass: BBQ sauces, pickles, jams and jellies, mustards, vinegar, salad dressing. I was cheering the success of the world’s sustained call to action to rid the planet of plastic. But, arriving at ketchup took the wind out of my sails.

In fact, I was in disbelief that ketchup leader Heinz had not responded to consumer demand and felt extremely frustrated. I’d even called Heinz a few weeks ago, and then tweeted about it. So this did not sit will with me. I had to make a change. There was no way I’d be able to drive home feeling ashamed that I wasn’t strong enough to follow through with my promise. I simply had to find an alternative. But, how is it possible to replace ketchup with something similar? What were my choices, salad dressing? BBQ sauce?

HillReport11-17-19aI backed up a few feet to reassess the BBQ sauce possibilities. Surely there was a flavor that would do the trick. I quickly scanned one row, then the next… then onto the third. Voila! Pioneer Woman BBQ Sauce – Apple Brown Sugar. Not only did this flavor look divine, but the shape of the bottle meant I’d be able to use a spoon. (Do you remember the Heniz commercials with Carol King’s Anticipation?) Twenty-four hours later, I can assure you this BBQ sauce is amazing. I’m so grateful to have discovered it. And now I feel wonderful knowing that by stepping out of my comfort zone in the grocery store aisle, I’ve had the pleasure of falling in love with a new product that I never would have ever had the good pleasure of being introduced to. But the ultimate satisfaction was realizing that this type of little everyday change can save someone’s life. It’s the easiest feel good ever.

I mentioned my exciting BBQ sauce find to a friend, and she surprised me by letting me know I could buy glass bottled Heinz ketchup on Amazon. Whoa, awesome! Yet, this new BBQ sauce is so tasty, I think I’ll do both.

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© Copyright 2018 – 2019. ALL Rights Reserved.
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Fire Drill Friday | Jane Fonda Keeps Us Focused On #1 Priority

Washington (GGM) Analysis | November 15, 2019
NoreenByLine-a by Noreen Wise

It was an emotional day on Capitol Hill with defamed ex-Ambassador for Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, testifying in the second impeachment hearing for Donald J. Trump. The details outlined by Ms. Yovanovitch were critical and seem to have sealed Trump’s fate. I speculate he’ll be impeached by New Years Eve 2019.

ST-SAGA-CovFrnt-72-300Meanwhile, a few hundred yards away, in the warming sunlight, Jane Fonda rallied Americans with her sixth Friday Fire Drill. Her mission is to draw awareness to the Green New Deal and the important role fossil fuels have played on our climate’s demise.

Fonda was not arrested today, but she prides herself on the positive impact her protesting and subsequent arrests have had on the climate emergency cause. Today’s climate focus was on our oceans and rising sea levels as well as the urgent need to break free from plastic.

Although Fonda wasn’t arrested, two of her tag-along friends were: Marg Helgenberger and Robert Kennedy Jr. It seems these wonderful climate activists consider their arrests their red badge of courage.

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The holiday shopping season has arrived. It’s imperative that we keep our resolve to act now on lowering atmospheric carbon levels by the choices we make during the holiday season. Every tiny decision will save a life. For example, it’s advised that no red meat for any festivities. Avoid plastic packaging. Buy grocery products in glass bottles. Let’s promise to keep our eyes wide open as we claw through the packed aisles, and make the right selections when we reach toward a store shelf.

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Another positive choice is to buy local. It’s mind boggling how dramatic this simple decision can make. Again, it’s all about being aware, and making a commitment in advance to save our oceans and brighten our children’s futures. We can do this!

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© Copyright 2018 – 2019. ALL Rights Reserved.
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A REAL Solution – Urban Tree Canopy | Act Now

Washington (GGM) Analysis | November 9, 2019
NoreenByLine-a by Noreen Wise

The emerging concept of “green intelligence” is bringing much needed analytical assessments to the attention of mayors across the country.  We understand the ST-SAGA-CovFrnt-72-300importance of planting thousands of trees in our local communities. But apparently, where we plant trees really makes a difference.

How do we determine the best locations for each household to plant ten trees? Thankfully, the USDA’s Forest Service Northern Research Station has just released a valuable analysis termed UTC, Urban Tree Canopy. The UTC Assessment is made up of geospatial data that can be used to strategically outline where exactly new trees should be planted in a town or city, and approximately how many will net the maximum benefit. It can be used as a guide in every city in America to identify which areas in each city need more tree work and tree TLC. New York City’s Hudson Yards’ revitalization is an excellent example.

By the way, Urban Tree Canopy is the complete tree mass — made up of branches, leaves and stems — that covers the ground when looking down from above the treeline.

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Here are the facts:

  • Trees make a vital, positive impact on all communities, particularly cities where there’s a dense population
  • Trees improve storm water run-off by capturing rain water in their canopy and discharging it into the atmosphere.
  • The EPA asserts that, “Tree roots and leaf litter create soil conditions that promote the infiltration of rainwater into the soil.”
  • So with more trees, there should be less street flooding.

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  • Trees provide shelter from the heat, and lower urban temperatures.
  • Trees reduce air pollution by absorbing toxins into the roots, bark and leaves. Trees also absorb a significant amount of CO2, as well us provide us with the oxygen we need to live.
  • Once trees have been planted, wildlife habitat will soon follow. This rich habitat includes wonderful insects, birds, bats, butterflies and small mammals.

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  • Trees beautify our communities which increases property values and improves our mental health.
  • In fact, Thomas Jefferson, and our founding fathers for that matter, strongly believed that trees and gardens were so critical  in ensuring our emotional strength and stability, that they insisted trees be planted across Capitol Hill and that a Botanic Garden be established at its base.
  • Trees improve the economic viability of a city or town.
  • Trees nurture the community spirit and strengthen community ties. In this day and age with the opioid crisis still haunting our communities, it’s nice to know that we can grab onto something positive, inspirational and healthy that will improve our quality of life and draw us all together.

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The facts are clear. Numerous life saving benefits, and a plan that the whole community can participate in. Team work. It’s time to attend town hall meetings to discuss our local community’s Urban Tree Canopy assessment. Did our mayors and town counsel members even read the UTC released by the USDA’s Forest Service? Let’s find out.

© Copyright 2018 – 2019. ALL Rights Reserved.
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ExxonMobile | The Long Term Consequences of Short Term Greed

Washington (GGM) Analysis | October 30, 2019
NoreenByLine-a by Noreen Wise

The New York state fraud trial against ExxonMobile of Irving, TX,
kicked off on October 22, 2019 and a week later is still underway. The issues are now so heated, they’ve become as toxic as Exxon itself.

Texas is responsible for 12.7% of US carbon emissions, yet is 1 of 50 states. This ST-SAGA-CovFrnt-72-300staggering percent alone indicates the significant increase in US and world carbon emission levels that oil production generates. It’s unimaginable that such a massive and profitable public company like ExxonMobile, can receive all the benefits and yet not be required to bare the burden of the negatives, meanwhile millions of innocent victims can lose their homes, all their personal possessions as well as their livelihoods, and potentially their lives, without any redress… until now.

Texas’ per capita carbon emissions is 24 metric tons, while California is only 9 metric tons, and NY of all states has the lowest per capita carbon emissions reading of a mere 8 metric tons, one third that of Texas. The District of Columbia is the lowest overall at 4 metric tons, but is not considered one of the 50 states. Coal state West Virginia, with the highest per capita carbon emissions of states whose population is more than one million, has a per capita carbon emissions reading of mind-numbing 52 metric tons.

  • TX – 28 million people, 12.7% of US carbon emissions
  • CA – 39 million, 7% US carbon emissions
  • FL – 21 million, 4.5% US carbon emissions
  • PA – 13 million, 4.2% US carbon emissions
  • NY – 20 million, 3.2% US carbon emissions

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Louisiana is another huge oil producing state, and is on the heels of West Virginia’s per capita carbon emissions, with a per capita reading of 45. There are two interesting outliers that haven’t been factored in, North Dakota and Wyoming, with 2019 populations so tiny —  757,952 and 585,501 — that their per capita carbon emissions appears criminal: North Dakota at 72 metric tons and Wyoming at 104. These two states seem to emphasize the significant impact cattle production has on global warming. For example, the state of North Dakota has 1.8 million cattle for it’s population of 585,501.

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If these state carbon emission readings are readily available through wikipedia, and the ability to draw connections between oil production, carbon emission levels, and global warming is so blatant and clear, how is it possible for the corporate executives to turn a blind eye to the global impact? Do the majority of us do that in our own lives and/or professions? It doesn’t appear that we do. Take parenting toddlers for example.

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Parents baby proof homes to keep their children safe. Gates go up. Special locks are attached to doors and drawers. Children are strapped into every kind of seat imaginable. Warnings are placed on every product catering to children. All of these precautions are soon ingrained in us. We’re able to assess our homes, connect dots, and buy products that meet the needs of ensuring safety. With this standard in mind, it thus makes Exxon’s willful disregard for doing the same type of assessment, and creating an action plan to address the dangers, that much more maddening.

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According to Courthouse News Service, in Manhattan court today, Rex Tillerson testified that he “lobbied the previous administration for a carbon tax and pushed for the landmark Paris Climate Accords.” The fact that his lobbying efforts didn’t work, or that Trump pulled the US out of the Paris Agreement, appears to make Tillerson believe that he therefore did everything he could and isn’t responsible for any damage that Texas’ 12.7% carbon emission reading has on the world.

Interestingly, there are 22 states that chose to stay in the Paris Agreement, despite Trump pulling the US out. Texas wasn’t one of them. But 22 is nearly half the US states, three of which are red states. So it’s unclear why Tillerson would try and use Trump’s leaving the Paris Agreement as an excuse for doing nothing, when so many others in the same situation, rallied to protect their states and citizens and moved forward with creating and executing climate action agendas to meet the target goals outlined in the Paris Agreement, regardless of whether the US was in or not.

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Not only is Tillerson’s Paris Agreement excuse a non-starter, which serves to further validate the NY Attorney General’s claim of investor fraud, and underscore the willful disconnect between Exxon’s CEO and the reality of climate change, but when the extra level of sociopathic behavior of “lobbying for a carbon tax” is added in, which was followed by doing nothing when the carbon tax didn’t pass in Congress, the excuse becomes so lame it seems fraudulent for Tillerson to even mention it during his testimony today.

If a CEO truly does passionately believe in a carbon tax — because he understands that global warming and destructive climate events harm millions and millions, possibly billions of innocent victims — wouldn’t he have nobly used this would be carbon tax money to assist victims of traumatic climate events?

Exxon gave $500,000 during the 2017 Hurricane Harvey aftermath in Houston, and according to Google, nothing since to any other climate victims following catastrophic weather events. The microscopic Harvey amount is unfathomably pathetic when a company earned $19.7 billion that same year, compared to $7.8 billion the preceding year. The stunning increase in Exxon’s 2017 earnings during Tillerson’s first year as Secretary of State (should that be investigated?), with only a few tiny pennies to help with Harvey destruction? No, sorry, Mr. Tillerson. Your testimony today underscores your apathy and indifference to the global community that you’ve shattered.

The facts are plain as day. True leaders with a conscience know how to proceed and navigate a responsible path forward to protect the innocent in this type of quagmire (a quagmire that Exxon seemed to intentionally create so it wouldn’t be forced to act), but you, Sir, took advantage of the foggy conditions, and used it as an opportunity to maximize your profits and net worth. May justice be served. Hundreds of thousands have already died, millions of lives have been ruined. Short term greed has resulted in long term catastrophic global ruin. There’s hell to pay.

© Copyright 2018 – 2019. ALL Rights Reserved.
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What is a Circular Economy? | Reversing Climate Change

Washington (GGM) Analysis | October 21, 2019
NoreenByLine-a by Noreen Wise

LIGHTBULB! The solution to the climate crisis is for the global economy to shift from a linear economy to a circular. For the past 250 years — ever since the Industrial ST-SAGA-CovFrnt-72-300Revolution began in 1760the world has been operating under a linear economy of take-make-waste. Under this paradigm, we take natural resources, make a lot of products and then dispose of the waste. Typically, disposing of the waste nets a negative impact on the environment as well as our health.

The linear cycle is often very inefficient, destroying far more natural resources than necessary, and leaving behind dangerous toxins everywhere. Corporations often build inefficiency into their business plan intentionally in order to increase revenue. For example, if a company manufactures a cheap product (let’s say a refrigerator) and it breaks easily, the consumer will have to buy a new one faster. Corporations are incentivized to produce a flimsy refrigerator. They make more money being inefficient. However, there are  negative consequences for the global community with this business plan: increased carbon emissions, poisoning of the environment and the fueling of climate change.

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The circular economy model is built on the concept of reduce-reuse-recycle . In a circular  economy the manufacturer will produce a very high quality refrigerator that will last a very long time. They’ll make money servicing the hardy refrigerator for the consumer. In creating a higher quality product, the company reduces the number of refrigerators it manufactures which results in a whole series of advantages from natural resources, to the environment, and to the public.

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The circular model builds economic, natural, and social capital.” Again, these are all positives. Breaking down every piece of the economic puzzle so that we can move toward a circular economy to save our civilization, is quite tedious, but must be done. There are layers of issues that need to be analyzed. The product itself, and all its parts, as well as the packaging. The reuse and recycle aspects of the product, the parts and the packaging have variations depending on purity, and other fine details. Take for example glass.

Glass packaging is truly amazing. It can be recycled forever. It will never lose its purity on its own, only when accidentally mixed with cardboard or paper, etc. To keep glass from becoming impure, the new philosophy is to create large community recycle bins where townspeople can drop their glass off for recycling once a week. Northern Virginia is piloting this test program. Curbside pickup of glass has been cancelled in Norther Virginia. Large collection bins have been delivered in key locations around town. We’ll now wait and see the benefits of this minor change in the way glass is recycled, so it can then be rolled out in every community in the United States.

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There will be business winners and losers, of course. Fossil fuels and plastics will each be phased out. These industries have benefitted from the linear model for many decades, but will eventually be eliminated by the circular. There’s already pushback, but the transition from linear to circular is inevitable. It’s the only way our civilization can survive.

Plastic packaging MUST be replaced with glass and aluminum, as well as other easy to recycle natural alternatives, or reused as the material to create new products. In nations with large leaves on most trees, the leaves have been harvested for packaging. Recycled paper is also being converted for packaging. There will be many innovations on this front in the upcoming months and years. Keep your eyes wide open as new solutions debut one after the other. For example, straw make-overs have been so much fun to watch. Aluminum straws, paper, and just this week there was a fabulous article about pasta straws being a fab sensation.

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You know that any article dealing with the economy is only scratching the surface. Economics is not only a college course, but a college major. The subject is massive, especially when you factor in the global layers. So, one step at a time. In the transition from linear to circular, the EU is leading the way in the West. It’s been transitioning for over seven years now. China is aggressively converting as well. China is the world leader in nailing “reduction” through manufacturing the most long-lasting building materials: aluminum, steel, and cement.

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America hasn’t yet begun to rush. Only 16% of US companies are currently using circular principles, however a total of 62% responded positively to a February 2019 survey stating they plan to transition. Investment Funds have begun moving the needle by rewarding corporations that are a match for the circular economy goals and creating a special fund, “BGF Circular Economy” Fund.

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We citizens can do our part by recycling religiously, composting daily, purchasing products packaged in glass, eliminating plastic, planting trees and gardens, the list is endless. Begin today, and again proceed one step at a time. We can save our children’s future, and alleviate their daily stress. LET’S GO!

© Copyright 2018 – 2019. ALL Rights Reserved.
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EV Charging Stations | Let’s GO!

Washington (GGM) Analysis | October 18, 2019
NoreenByLine-a by Noreen Wise

It’s alarming to see how far behind the US is with EV charging stations compared to the EU and other countries across the globe. If we’re the largest carbon emitters per capita, we have to become the leader in sustainability initiatives. Over the past decade, the two chief barriers that have kept consumers from transitioning to EVs, have been the range an EV can drive on one battery charge, and the availability of charging stations.

ST-SAGA-CovFrnt-72-300The range has increased substantially, with several of the new 2020 EVs reaching as high as 325 miles, and most EV’s hovering in the mid 200’s. With the average drive to work being 25 miles, and with most EV’s being charged at home overnight, the range is really only a concern for trips. A significant advancement has been the amount of time it takes to charge a battery, which is now only 20 minutes. Tech innovators are working on getting that to under 10 minutes in the near future

Most charging is done at home overnight using a regular charge outlet. Charging at home is free, so EV owners love the savings, although they might see a slight increase in their electricity bill. But then again, EV owners tend to use solar panels for their home power. Home solar panels can now store energy in large batteries that can be used to charge the car at no cost. So then, the only remaining obstacle we have to overcome is public charging stations.

Tesla and Ford are taking the bull by the horns and offering free charging station usage to consumers of certain EV models for a specified period of time. Further, Volkswagen’s emission scandal resulted in VW agreeing to spend $2 billion over 10 years building out EV charging station infrastructure in the US, with their first round focusing on 17 metro areas. So there is corporate buy-in, and the number of corporations participating in creative solutions will keep on rising.

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Employers are jumping in and installing charging stations in employee parking lots. They’ve found that the relatively minor expense, affords substantial goodwill that their employees greatly appreciate. The minor issue that still has to be worked out is how to move the car from the spot once it’s fully charged. Stay tuned for the solution.

And then there are the town and state legislative initiatives that are popping up all over the country, particularly in those areas that opted to stay in the Paris Agreement after Trump pulled the US out two years ago.

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According to Smart Cities Dive:

  • Spokane, WA waived $50 permit fees for EV charging Stations and solar panels
  • Berkley, CA passed a law banning natural gas in new “low-rise” residential buildings
  • San Jose, CA passed a new law requiring all new multi-family complexes have 70% EV capable parking spaces
  • Atlanta passed an EV ordinance in 2017, outlining the plan for EV charging stations
  • In Seattle, “Councilmember Mike O’Brien said cities are creating a race to the top with these EV-related laws, and it should push others to do the same or go even further.” Let’s hope so!

Light poles in many cities and towns are now adorned with mini solar panels, a simple solution that’s incredibly cost effective. And now an innovative new idea has reinvented the modern light pole, turning the entire pole into a solar panel through it’s mosaic design. Will there soon be a charging station attached to each pole as well? Fingers crossed. Ingenious ideas to solve critical problems have always been an American strength. It’s time to shift our creativity into overdrive so that we can move a few of these climate action mountains as fast and furious as possible.

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To find public charging stations near you, just CLICK HERE .

© Copyright 2018 – 2019. ALL Rights Reserved.
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Setting Up Our Home Compost Bins ASAP

Washington (GGM) Analysis | October 15, 2019
NoreenByLine-a by Noreen Wise

For the millions of us searching for effective next steps in reducing atmospheric carbon, as well as lowering our personal carbon footprints, having a home compost bin is a significant step forward. The best part, is how easy compost bins are to step up and maintain.

ST-SAGA-CovFrnt-72-300According to Exploring Green , Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, 51% of trash is compostable. This food that is thrown away in landfills turns into methane. Methane increases global warming 21 times that of CO2. But when food waste is composted and then layered into the soil, the soil becomes so rich with nutrients that it substantially increases the amount of carbon the soil can sequester, which lowers our atmospheric carbon level, and reduces the global temperature.

Homes, restaurants, and large dining facilities — whether that be school cafeterias, hospital and corporate cafeterias, mall foodcourts, and large banquets and conference centers — should all be tapped into the simple compositing process. Be on the lookout at restaurants in your area. Most healthy and organic venues now have compost bins.

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There are many ways composting space can be set up. It all depends on where you live and whether you’re able to have a larger outdoor bin.

  • In the kitchen, it’s best to have a small bin, with a handled bucket  that can be lifted out of the lidded container.
  • All food scraps we normally stuff into the sink disposal, will instead by placed in the compost bin.
  • The small compost bin should be emptied each night into the larger bin that is either stored in the yard or garage.
  • It’s important that the large bin is ventilated, and turned with a large stick once a week.
  • Air enables the compost to process faster.
  • An official compost bin has a lower hatch close to the ground, that can be opened when the compost is ready, and easily removed to place in soil around the yard.
  • If you live in a condo or apartment and want to keep everything light, you may want to try a small lidded container on your porch or patio that you can empty by layering into a nearby forest floor regularly.

 

Hands emptying a container full of domestic food waste
photography by AdobeStock

Schools Districts have jumped into the act in a big way, transforming the composting process into a learning lab. Many schools share their composting efforts through social media and it’s very exciting to see students energized by being part of this planet saving effort.

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Teachers really enjoy these interactive, climate action learning labs, too. Win/win experiences are positive and invigorating, making learning fun and joyful. What parents doesn’t love that?

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If you don’t have time or yard space to set up and maintain your own compost bin,  a whole new industry is starting to take shape. CompostNow.org is a compositing service for home, office, and restaurants.

  • They provide heavy duty plastic bin.
  • They pick up full bin each service day, and leave an empty one.
  • They track waste & compost creation by the pound.
  • Members earn compost! Very easy and rewarding… literally.

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So, take the leap. It’s super easy and will instantly contribute to carbon reduction!

© Copyright 2018 – 2019. ALL Rights Reserved.
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