Storms of My Grandchildren by Dr. James Hansen

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 11:34 PM GMT on July 26, 2010

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"Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity" is NASA climate change scientist Dr. James Hansen's first book. Dr. Hansen is arguably the most visible and well-respected climate change scientist in the world, and has headed the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City since 1981. He is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University. Dr. Hansen greatly raised awareness of the threat of global warming during his Congressional testimony during the record hot summer of 1988, and issued one of the first-ever climate model predictions of global warming (see an analysis here to see how his 1988 prediction did.) In 2009, Dr. Hansen was awarded the Carl-Gustaf Rossby Research Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the American Meteorological Society, for his "outstanding contributions to climate modeling, understanding climate change forcings and sensitivity, and for clear communication of climate science in the public arena."

Storms of My Grandchildren focuses on the key concepts of the science of climate change, told through Hansen's personal experiences as a key player in field's scientific advancements and political dramas over the past 40 years. Dr. Hansen's writing style is very straight-forward and understandable, and he clearly explains the scientific concepts involved in a friendly way that anyone with a high school level science education can understand. I did not find any scientific errors in his book. However, some of his explanations are too long-winded, and the book is probably too long, at 274 pages. Nevertheless, Storms of My Grandchildren is a must-read, due to the importance of the subject matter and who is writing it. Hansen is not a fancy writer. He comes across as a plain Iowan who happened to stumble into the field of climate change and discovered things he had to speak out about. And he does plenty of speaking out in his book.

James Hansen vs. Richard Lindzen
Dr. Hansen's book opens with an interesting chapter on his participation in four meetings of Vice President Dick Cheney's cabinet-level Climate Task Force in 2001. It seems that the Bush Administration was prepared to let Dr. Hansen's views on climate change influence policy. However, Dr. Richard Lindzen, whom Hansen describes as "the dean of of global warming contrarians", was also present at the meetings. Dr.Lindzen was able to confuse the task force members enough so that they never took Dr. Hansen's views seriously. Hansen observes that "U.S. policies regarding carbon dioxide during the Bush-Cheney administration seem to have been based on, or at a minimum, congruent with, Lindzen's perspective." Hansen asserts that Lindzen was able to do this by acting more like a lawyer than a scientist: "He and other contrarians tend to act like lawyers defending a client, presenting only arguments that favor their client. This is in direct contradiction to...the scientific method." Hansen also comments that he asked Lindzen what he thought of the link between smoking and cancer, since Lindzen had been a witness for the tobacco industry decades earlier. Lindzen "began rattling off all the problems with the data relating smoking to health problems, which was closely analogous to his views of climate data."

Alarmism
Global warming contrarians often dismiss scientists such a Dr. Hansen as "alarmists" who concoct fearsome stories about climate change in order to get research funding. Dr. Lindzen made this accusation at Cheney's Climate Task Force in 2001. However, Dr. Hansen notes that "in 1981 I lost funding for research on the climate effects of carbon dioxide because the Energy Department was displeased with a paper, 'Climate Impact of Increasing Carbon Dioxide,' I had published in Science magazine. The paper made a number of predictions for the 21st century, including 'opening of the fabled Northwest Passage', which the Energy Department considered to be alarmist but which have since proven to be accurate." If you read Dr. Hansen's book and listen to his lectures, it is clear that he is not an alarmist out to get more research funding by hyping the dangers of global warming. Hansen says in his book that "my basic nature nature is very placid, even comfortably stolid", and that nature comes through very clearly in Storms of My Grandchildren. Hansen's writings express a quiet determination to plainly set forth the scientific truth on climate change. He has surprisingly few angry words towards the politicians, lobbyists, and scientists intent on distorting the scientific truth.

The science of climate change
The bulk of Storms of My Grandchildren is devoted to explanations of the science of climate change. Hansen's greatest concern is disintegration of the gerat ice sheets in Greenland and West Antarctica causing sea level rise: "Once the ice sheets begin to rapidly disintegrate, sea level would be continuously changing for centuries. Coastal cities would become impractical to maintain." Hansen is concerned that evidence from past climate periods show that the massive ice sheets that cover Greenland and Antarctica can melt quickly, with large changes within a century. For example, sea level at the end of the most recent Ice Age, 13,000 - 14,000 years ago, rose at a rate of 3 - 5 meters (10 - 17 feet) per century for several centuries. Hansen is convinced that just a 1.7 -2°C warming, which would likely result if we stabilize CO2 at 450 ppm, would be a "disaster scenario" that would trigger rapid disintegration of the ice sheets and disastrous rises in sea level. Hansen advocates stabilizing CO2 at 350 ppm (we are currently at 390 ppm, with a rate of increase of 2 ppm per year.)

Another of Hansen's main concerns is the extinction of species. He notes that studies of more than 1,000 species of plants, animals, and insects have found an average migration rate towards the poles due to climate warming in the last half of the 20th century to be four miles per decade. "That is not fast enough. During the past thirty years the lines marking the regions in which a given average temperature prevails (isotherms) have been moving poleward at a rate of about thirty-five miles per decade. If greenhouse gases continue to increase at business-as-usual rates, then the rate of isotherm movement will double in this century to at least seventy miles per decade."

Hansen's other main concern is the release of large amounts of methane gas stored in sea-floor sediments in the form of methane hydrates. If ocean temperatures warm according to predictions, the higher temperatures at the sea floor may be enough to destabilize the methane hydrate sediments and release huge quantities of methane into the atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas 20 - 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Solutions to the climate change problem
Dr. Hansen is a controversial figure, since he has stepped outside his field of expertise and become an activist in promoting solutions to the climate change problem. He devotes a chapter called "An Honest, Effective Path" in the book to this. His main theme is that we need to tax fossil fuels using a "fee-and-dividend" approach. All of the tax money collected would be distributed uniformly to the public. This carbon tax would gradually rise, giving people time to adjust their lifestyle, choice of vehicle, home insulation, etc. Those who do better at reducing their fossil fuel use will receive more in the dividend than they will pay in the added costs of the products they buy. The approach is straightforward and does not require a large bureaucracy, but currently has little political support. Hansen is vehemently opposed to the approach that has the most political support, "Cap-and-trade": "Cap-and-trade is what governments and the people in alligator shoes (the lobbyists for special interests) are trying to foist on you. Whoops. As an objective scientist I should delete such personal opinions, to at least flag them. But I am sixty-eight years old, and I am fed up with the way things work in Washington." Hansen also promotes an overlooked type of nuclear power, "fast" reactors with liquid metal coolant that produce far less nuclear waste and are much more efficient than conventional nuclear reactors.

Quotes from the book
"Humanity treads today on a slippery slope. As we continue to pump greenhouse gases into the air, we move onto a steeper, even more slippery incline. We seem oblivious to the danger--unaware how close we may be to a situation in which a catastrophic slip becomes practically unavoidable, a slip where we suddenly lose all control and are pulled into a torrential stream that hurls us over a precipice to our demise."

"In order for a democracy to function well, the public needs to be honestly informed. But the undue influence of special interests and government greenwash pose formidable barriers to a well-informed public. Without a well-informed public, humanity itself and all species on the planet are threatened."

"Of course by 2005 I was well aware that the NASA Office of Public Affairs had become an office of propaganda. In 2004, I learned that NASA press releases related to global warming were sent to the White House, where they were edited to appear less serious or discarded entirely."

"If we let special interests rule, my grandchildren and yours will pay the price."

"The role of money in our capitals is the biggest problem for democracy and for the planet."

"The problem with asking people to pledge to reduce their fossil fuel use is that even if lots of people do, one effect is reduced demand for fossil fuel and thus a lower price--making it easier for someone else to burn...it is necessary for people to reduce their emissions, but it is not sufficient if the government does not adopt policies that cause much of the fossil fuels to be left in the ground permanently."

"I have argued that it is time to 'draw a line in the sand' and demand no new coal plants."

"The present situation is analogous to that faced by Lincoln with slavery and Churchill with Nazism--the time for compromises and appeasement is over."

"Humans are beginning to hammer the climate system with a forcing more than an order of magnitude more powerful than the forcings that nature employed."

"Once ice sheet disintegration begins in earnest, our grandchildren will live the rest of their lives in a chaotic transition period."

"After the ice is gone, would Earth proceed to the Venus syndrome, a runaway greenhouse effect that would destroy all life on the planet, perhaps permanently? While that is difficult to say based on present information, I've come to conclude that if we burn all reserves of oil, gas, and coal, there is a substantial chance we will initiate the runaway greenhouse. If we also burn the tar sands and tar shale, I believe the Venus syndrome is a dead certainty."

"One suggestion I have for now: Support Bill McKibben and his organization 350.org. It is the most effective and responsible leadership in the public struggle for climate justice."

Commentary
James Hansen understands the Earth's climate as well as any person alive, and his concern about where our climate is headed makes Storms of My Grandchildren a must-read for everyone who cares about the world their grandchildren will inherit. Storms of My Grandchildren retails for $16.50 at Amazon.com. Dr. Hansen's web site is http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/.

Jeff Masters

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5283. xcool
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
5282. pottery

One quote from Dr. Hansen's book, above, caught my eye....

"for a democracy to function well, the public needs to be honestly informed..."

therein lies the problem. Who DO we believe?
Best choice is to gather all the info you can, and make your own choices.
Fortunately, info is available to us now like no other time in History.
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Hmm..

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hi guys, looks like there is something to watch!

lake casitas, ca

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5279. xcool
NEED GO MORE N TO IT'S FARSOUTH..
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
5278. pottery
Quoting xcool:



toot toot A BEEP toot toot A BEEP WAVE

Needs to stay below 10N to keep away from some dry air though........
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If the ECMWF develops it at 00z I believe at 12z it will drop it completely.
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5276. pottery
Quoting KarenRei:


So, by your logic, we wouldn't need a list of extinct and endangered species, as God would protect them. There would be no land permanently altered by desertification and deforestation, as God would keep the land fertile despite our efforts. No oceanic food chains would be irrevocably altered by overfishing. The Aral Sea and other essentially eliminated bodies of water would still be in tact. We wouldn't be able to introduce species that devastate ecosystems. We wouldn't be able to cause and spread pandemics. And so forth.

There's an old saying: "Pray to God, but keep rowing to shore." There's no disputing that, if there is a God, He is more than willing to let us destroy ecosystems and ourselves.

You are braver than me, Karen!
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5275. xcool



toot toot A BEEP toot toot A BEEP WAVE
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
5274. xcool
LOL YEAH
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Quoting SeaMule:
implicit trust in science is a form of religion, and the blog that Dr. Masters wrote, had nothing to do with hurricanes exactly...it was a book that expressed belief that somehow our future was dependent on man's choices.

i will not make this a debate or religious thing...but it was something I had to comment on. obeying the good scientists ideas is not my hope for the future, and the book leads the reader to believe we have no real chance...and belies the fact that there is a Creator. People nowadays hate to talk about God. The Nazi's were like that...and the Soviet Union....etc. If you don't like to talk or listen about spiritual things....that is your call. But it is not your call to tell others their thoughts must be restricted to what a hurricane might do...when the blog starts with a book stating we are all lost unless mankind does something.....it just isn't the truth. our future is dependent on the Creator. I have a right to that opinion. and having written that...i will desist from that topic...and concentrate

on that huge wave off of Africa....


So, by your logic, we wouldn't need a list of extinct and endangered species, as God would protect them. There would be no land permanently altered by desertification and deforestation, as God would keep the land fertile despite our efforts. No oceanic food chains would be irrevocably altered by overfishing. The Aral Sea and other essentially eliminated bodies of water would still be in tact. We wouldn't be able to introduce species that devastate ecosystems. We wouldn't be able to cause and spread pandemics. And so forth.

There's an old saying: "Pray to God, but keep rowing to shore." There's no disputing that, if there is a God, He is more than willing to let us destroy ecosystems and ourselves.
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5271. pottery
Quoting truecajun:


yeah, my dad is a pediatrician, so he is ALWAYS harping about it. he published some big paper on the effects of tv on kids. something about their brains going into sleep mode etc.

thus, i have taken heed. we have the 10 dollar cable package, so cartoons aren't accessible ALL day like it is in most households.

i have to confess though, that i've been letting them watch cartoons and play wii ALOT over the past few weeks due to it being so very HOT outside.

still though, there is something difft about sponge bob. they're glazed over faces are more intense with sponge bob

Good for your Dad.
The thing is, young minds cannot distinguish between fact and fiction. How can they, they absorb everything like a, er,um, Sponge.
Early programming of the brain is generally thought to be almost irreversible. So learned behaviour from very young is permanent.
There are strong messages in the TV that we adults can filter out because we are adults and our brains can make rational choices (well, most of us!)
Young children accept what we tell them as fact. Without question.
The Marketing Departments of the World know this, very well!
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Quoting xcool:





Hey, these people wanted some storms, well, there ya go. Hell on a 3 X 5 Index card.
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5269. xcool
ALL board NGP GFS
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
5268. xcool



Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
will some one tell the mode runs too stop wishcasting
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115439
Quoting JLPR2:


just look at the satellite loop
Link
The small cloud that forms right off the coast the the weak spin that later gets entangled in the bunch of convection that it produced over water as it exited so I'm not sure as of now, eh... either way that doesnt take away the fact that it could turn into something, TW or not.
We agree on that, right? XD


Oh sure. I gave some bad unverified examples, I am NOT a history buff but, I KNOW it has happened before.

I also know that models have a hard time when systems are within the ITCZ. I do believe something will come of this.
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Quoting SeaMule:
implicit trust in science is a form of religion, and the blog that Dr. Masters wrote, had nothing to do with hurricanes exactly...it was a book that expressed belief that somehow our future was dependent on man's choices.

i will not make this a debate or religious thing...but it was something I had to comment on. obeying the good scientists ideas is not my hope for the future, and the book leads the reader to believe we have no real chance...and belies the fact that there is a Creator. People nowadays hate to talk about God. The Nazi's were like that...and the Soviet Union....etc. If you don't like to talk or listen about spiritual things....that is your call. But it is not your call to tell others their thoughts must be restricted to what a hurricane might do...when the blog starts with a book stating we are all lost unless mankind does something.....it just isn't the truth. our future is dependent on the Creator. I have a right to that opinion. and having written that...i will desist from that topic...and concentrate

on that huge wave off of Africa....
I congratulate Dr. Masters that in his blog puts wonderful information which is highly appreciated by many of us, simple visitors. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and your contributions to Science and the protection of the environment are priceless. I don't think opinions about books should be discussed here, is not the place.Since is just an opinion base upon your particular views. On this blog people come from different cultural background,nationalities,believes subjects such as religion or political motivated comments should be avoid.
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it's so nice to see posts about waves again
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Quoting CyclonicVoyage:


They don't track the ITCZ over land but, back when your image was produced the exit point was @13N from the coast of Africa at a rather steep angle. Not saying your wrong but, evidence would say ITCZ and that is the side the NHC is taking for now.


Adding to that

The steep angle of the ITCZ could emulate a tropical wave in the wind shift. It's currently showing no signs of a tropical wave and can somewhat be traced back to the ITCZ so, for me, that's what it is.
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5261. xcool



Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Quoting pottery:

Yeah! Watch-out for the TV.
It is a VERY powerful tool.
Read "In the Absence of the Sacred" by Jerry Mander (yep, thats his name LOL).
Written some years ago, but worth the read.


yeah, my dad is a pediatrician, so he is ALWAYS harping about it. he published some big paper on the effects of tv on kids. something about their brains going into sleep mode etc.

thus, i have taken heed. we have the 10 dollar cable package, so cartoons aren't accessible ALL day like it is in most households.

i have to confess though, that i've been letting them watch cartoons and play wii ALOT over the past few weeks due to it being so very HOT outside.

still though, there is something difft about sponge bob. they're glazed over faces are more intense with sponge bob
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5259. JLPR2
Quoting CyclonicVoyage:


They don't track the ITCZ over land but, back when your image was produced the exit point was @13N from the coast of Africa at a rather steep angle. Not saying your wrong but, evidence would say ITCZ and that is the side the NHC is taking for now.


just look at the satellite loop
Link
The small cloud that forms right off the coast the the weak spin that later gets entangled in the bunch of convection that it produced over water as it exited so I'm not sure as of now, eh... either way that doesnt take away the fact that it could turn into something, TW or not.
We agree on that, right? XD
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5258. pottery
Quoting CyclonicVoyage:


They don't track the ITCZ over land but, back when your image was produced the exit point was @13N from the coast of Africa at a rather steep angle. Not saying your wrong but, evidence would say ITCZ and that is the side the NHC is taking for now.

I think so as well.....
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5257. pottery
Quoting Surfcropper:


Jerry Mander? I bet he was always the one volunteering to cut the cake at parties..


LOL!!
But seriously, try to read it. Discusses the influences of the media (TV).
Sensitively written.
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Quoting JLPR2:


Exactly XD which makes me unsure of what it is, but it cant be just a ITCZ cloud since it actually originated over Africa.


They don't track the ITCZ over land but, back when your image was produced the exit point was @13N from the coast of Africa at a rather steep angle. Not saying your wrong but, evidence would say ITCZ and that is the side the NHC is taking for now.
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5255. xcool
spin yea
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
5253. JLPR2
Quoting pottery:

Interesting, anyhow.
At least it gives us something to watch.......


Agreed, something to talk about and post pictures. XD LOL
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5252. pottery
Quoting JLPR2:


Exactly XD which makes me unsure of what it is, but it cant be just a ITCZ cloud since it actually originated over Africa.

Interesting, anyhow.
At least it gives us something to watch.......
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5251. JLPR2
Going to post this again (I had already earlier) just cause I got nothing else to post XD



Notice the slight spin?
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Quoting SeniorPoppy:


Yea, it's gonna have to weaken for sure. It has a vice grip on the tropical Atlantic right now.


As StormW pointed out a little while ago it's down from 1030-1032, to what it is now.

From the NHC

ATLANTIC OCEAN...
A 1020 MB HIGH IS CENTERED OVER THE NORTHERN BAHAMAS NEAR 27N78W
PRODUCING FAIR WEATHER. ANOTHER 1025 MB HIGH IS CENTERED OVER
THE CENTRAL ATLANTIC NEAR 31N43W. A STATIONARY FRONT IS OVER THE
W ATLANTIC ALONG 32N60W 31N70W TO SOUTH CAROLINA NEAR 33N79W.
ISOLATED MODERATE CONVECTION IS WITHIN 60 NM OF THE FRONT. A
1024 MB HIGH IS OVER THE CENTRAL ATLANTIC NEAR 31N38W. VISIBLE
SATELLITE IMAGERY SHOWS DRY SAHARAN AIR ACROSS THE TROPICAL
ATLANTIC E OF 60W.


Dry air will get ya.

The bridge of highs over the Atlantic, dry air is keeping it in check now, let's hope it continues. Weakening highs say no way.
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did the vorticity on the wave at 25-30w drop?
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5248. xcool
okay thanks
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
well maybe we will have something to watch by the weekend. will check in tomorrow morn. nite
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maybe that wave or low will pop up on the 06Z map
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5244. pottery
Quoting truecajun:


LOL! my kids love spongebob too. sometimes i think there are subliminal messages in that cartoon and that they are being brainwashed or something. they LOVE it, and it's humor that they really don't understand

Yeah! Watch-out for the TV.
It is a VERY powerful tool.
Read "In the Absence of the Sacred" by Jerry Mander (yep, thats his name LOL).
Written some years ago, but worth the read.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting xcool:
wave at 30w attached to the ITCZ ???????



yes i think so
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115439
Quoting truecajun:


finally got your link to the GFS, or is that not the new one?


Yea, I got my link :-D, that's the new one.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
GFS 00z now on board with development. Will be interesting to see what the ECMWF shows.. GFS shows a pretty potent system.



finally got your link to the GFS, or is that not the new one?
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5238. JLPR2
Quoting pottery:

You thinking it's a wave?
Could be, but the 00z surface analysis does not show it...


Exactly XD which makes me unsure of what it is, but it cant be just a ITCZ cloud since it actually originated over Africa.
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5237. xcool
wave at 30w attached to the ITCZ ???????
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Quoting earthlydragonfly:


my son said more business for mr. crabbs...

Sponge bob


LOL! my kids love spongebob too. sometimes i think there are subliminal messages in that cartoon and that they are being brainwashed or something. they LOVE it, and it's humor that they really don't understand
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5235. xcool
JLPR2 omg bigmommmy wave
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Quoting pottery:

Greetings, Taz!



hi pot
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115439

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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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