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Thread: The Environmental Concerns thread

  1. #501

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    How do you recycle toilet-paper? ;P

  2. #502
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    Okay, I phrased that poorly, but I'm pretty sure you know what I mean.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PiMan View Post
    Not me. I wipe my ass with Safe, which is a 100% recycled toilet paper, and not not owned by any of those brands.
    Ok fair point I forgot about them.

    Just to note, SCA and KC use fully accredited environmentally friendly forestry processes.
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  4. #504

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    ......and i'm sure one persons 'ethical toilet paper' is not so ethical, depending on the material source and production techniques. It's pretty hard to be sure, but atleast these days there is a global effort to better label products in this area, so we can make a more informed choice than a decade ago etc. Progress

    ----------------------------

    And finaly some news on the bee-death issue:

    'Honeybee virus: Varroa mite spreads lethal disease':

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/18339797

    "A parasitic mite has helped a virus wipe out billions of honeybees throughout the globe, say scientists.

    A team studying honeybees in Hawaii found that the Varroa mite helped spread a particularly nasty strain of a disease called deformed wing virus.

    The mites act as tiny incubators of one deadly form of the disease, and inject it directly into the bees' blood.

    This has led to "one of the most widely-distributed and contagious insect viruses on the planet".

    The findings are reported in the journal Science.

    The team, led by Dr Stephen Martin from the University of Sheffield, studied the honeybees in Hawaii, where Varroa was accidentally brought from California just five years ago.

    Crucially some Hawaiian islands have honeybee colonies that are still Varroa-free.

    This provided the team with a unique natural laboratory; they could compare recently-infected colonies with those free from the parasite, and paint a biological picture of exactly how Varroa affected the bees.

    The team spent two years monitoring colonies - screening Varroa-infected and uninfected bees to see what viruses lived in their bodies.

    Dr Martin explained to BBC Nature that most viruses were not normally harmful to the bees, but the mite "selected" one lethal strain of one specific virus.

    "In an infected bee there can be more viral particles than there are people on the planet," Dr Martin explained.

    "There's a vast diversity of viral strains within a bee, and most of them are adapted to exist in their own little bit of the insect; they get on quite happily."

    But the mite, he explained, "shifts something".

    In Varroa-infected bees, over time, the vast majority of these innocuous virus strains disappear and the bees' bodies are filled with one lethal strain of deformed wing virus.

    And when it comes to viral infection, it's the sheer quantity that kills; each viral particle invades a cell and takes over its internal machinery, turning the bee's own body against itself.

    Although it is not clear exactly why this strain thrives in mite-infected bees, Dr Martin explained that it could be the one virus best able to survive being repeatedly transmitted from the mites to the bees and back, as the mites feed on the bees' blood.

    The effect appears to take once the mites have changed this "viral landscape" in the bees' bodies, the change is permanent.

    "So the only way to control the virus is to control the levels of the mite," said Dr Martin.

    Prof Ian Jones, a virologist from the University of Reading said the findings mirrored "other known mechanisms of virus spread".

    He added: "[This] reinforces the need for beekeepers to control Varroa infestation."

    The British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) praised the research.

    BBKA chairman Dr David Aston said it "increased our understanding of the relationships between Varroa and [this] significant bee virus."

    He told BBC Nature: "These findings underline the need for further research into Varroa.

    "There remains a clear and urgent need for an effective, approved treatment."

    -----------------------------

    So it is not just the fact of having the equivalent of a dinner plate sized tick on your own body (the scale of the varroa mite compared to a honey bee), but they have also been carring a deadly virus! It certainly took long enough for this info to be discovered (i'm wondering if the Hawaiian bee situation is different at all from the rest of the world?), so i'm hoping it will be full steam ahead on some kind of preventative solution for control of the virus. Our ability to farm pretty much depends on it.
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  5. #505
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    It isn't the whole world that has the problem. While North America and Europe have seen large declines, Australia's bee population is as strong as ever. From my recent brief research, Russia doesn't have the problem either.
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  6. #506

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    ah yes, sorry, i briefly forgot that Australia in particular has been serving the agriculture industries of america and europe by exporting/lending the use of it's varroa free bees Still it will just be a matter of time, especially given that exchange before it gets to you too! That's why we really need to find a way to deal with the threat, it's big enough a concern on the global stage.
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  7. #507
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    One of the significant reasons why Australia hasn't suffered, is that we have a broader genetic pool of bees.
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  8. #508

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    yeh... just a shame about the people

    That was a 'pom' class joke btw, just in time for the new rugby matches this weekend (well ok you lost to scotland and beat wales so far!)

    And yes we had completely over selected our honey bees in the uk, not sure about the usa, but it has been a long term concern from bee keepers here.
    formerly known as child of Thor(coT) in the CTP2 section of poly.

  9. #509

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    'Diesel exhausts do cause cancer, says WHO': (Not 'The Who' )

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-18415532

    "Exhaust fumes from diesel engines do cause cancer, a panel of experts working for the World Health Organization says.

    It concluded that the exhausts were definitely a cause of lung cancer and may also cause tumours in the bladder.

    It based the findings on research in high-risk workers such as miners, railway workers and truck drivers.

    However, the panel said everyone should try to reduce their exposure to diesel exhaust fumes.

    The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a part of the World Health Organization, had previously labelled diesel exhausts as probably carcinogenic to humans.

    IARC has now labelled exhausts as a definite cause of cancer, although it does not compare how risky different carcinogens are. Diesel exhausts are now in the same group as carcinogens ranging from wood chippings to plutonium and sunlight to alcohol.

    It is thought people working in at-risk industries have about a 40% increased risk of developing lung cancer.

    Dr Christopher Portier, who led the assessment, said: "The scientific evidence was compelling and the Working Group's conclusion was unanimous, diesel engine exhaust causes lung cancer in humans.

    "Given the additional health impacts from diesel particulates, exposure to this mixture of chemicals should be reduced worldwide."

    The impact on the wider population, which is exposed to diesel fumes at much lower levels and for shorter periods of time, is unknown.

    Dr Kurt Straif, also from IARC, said: "For most of the carcinogens when there is high exposure the risk is higher, when there is lower exposure the risk is lower."

    There have been considerable efforts to clean up diesel exhausts. Lower sulphur fuel and engines which burn the fuel more efficiently are now in use.

    The UK Department of Health said: "We will carefully consider this report. Air pollutants are a significant public health concern, we are looking at this issue as part of our plans to improve public health."

    Cancer Research UK said employers and workers should take appropriate action to minimise exposure to diesel fumes in the workplace.

    But director of cancer information Dr Lesley Walker said the overall number of lung cancers caused by diesel fumes was "likely to be a fraction of those caused by smoking tobacco".

    ------------------

    some links in the article
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  10. #510
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    I remember the leaked comment of a clerk at the Department of Health back in the nineties when the dioxine crisis was revealed in Belgium.
    "But lady, inhaling the exhaust of your car is more lethal!"
    Turned out ALL food that was contaminated with this dioxine needed to be put out of the food chain. And it was supposed to be less lethal then car exhaust.

  11. #511

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    All just a product of our industrial process chasing the money without tough enough legislation in place. There may be a reason why cancer is the big concern it is know.

    -------------------------------------

    'Australia to create world's largest marine reserve':

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-18437040

    "Australia says it will create the world's largest network of marine parks ahead of the Rio+20 summit.

    The reserves will cover 3.1 million sq km of ocean, including the Coral Sea.

    Restrictions will be placed on fishing and oil and gas exploration in the protected zone covering more than a third of Australia's waters.

    Environment Minister Tony Burke, who made the announcement, will attend the earth summit in Brazil next week with Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

    "It's time for the world to turn a corner on protection of our oceans," Mr Burke said. "And Australia today is leading that next step."

    Australia has timed its announcement to coincide with the run-up to the Rio+20 Earth Summit - a global gathering of leaders from more than 130 nations to discuss protecting key parts of the environment, including the ocean, says the BBC's Duncan Kennedy.

    The plans, which have been years in the making, will proceed after a final consultation process.

    Last year, the Australian government announced plans to protect the marine life in the Coral Sea - an area of nearly 1 million sq km.

    The sea - off the Queensland coast in northeastern Australia - is home to sharks and tuna, isolated tropical reefs and deep sea canyons. It is also the resting place of three US navy ships sunk in the Battle of the Coral Sea in 1942.

    The network of marine reserve will also include the Great Barrier Reef, a Unesco World Heritage site.

    The plan will see the numbers of marine reserves off the Australian coast increased from 27 to 60.

    "What we've done is effectively create a national parks estate in the ocean,'' Mr Burke told Australian media.

    However, activists and environmental protection groups are likely to be less than satisfied with the plans, having called for a complete ban on commercial fishing in the Coral Sea.

    The fishing industry is set to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation, reports say.

    Some have also noted that oil and gas exploration continue to be allowed near some protected areas, particularly off western Australia.

    The Australian Conservation Foundation said that although the plan didn't go as far as they would like, it was a major achievement in terms of ocean conservation.

    Currently the world's largest marine reserve is a 545,000-sq-km area established by the UK around the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean."

    ----------------------------------

    sounds awesome
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  12. #512
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    Its easy to put boundaries on "protected" areas. Quite a bit less easy to implement it.
    Further more, the oceans know no boundaries. Stuff from one place goes to others only too easy.

  13. #513

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    True, but having designated area's does help fish stocks recover, even if you can't always stop all the fishing trawlers, having a legal framework for the existence of such area's will help in the long run. I'd say in the context of Australia and a very 'hungry' asian fishing fleet (Japan seems to literaly want to eat everything in the sea), this kind of thing is essential for long term protection of their fish stocks etc.

    ----------------------------------------------

    'GM crops 'aid plant neighbours':

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-18424557

    "GM crops that make their own insecticide also deliver benefits for their conventional plant neighbours, a study in China has concluded.

    These strains seem to boost populations of natural pest-controlling predators, and this effect spills over to non-transgenic crops, the research found.

    Details of the work by a Chinese-French team appear in the journal Nature.

    But one group critical of GM planting described the effect as a spillover "problem", not a "benefit".

    Scientists investigated a modified version of cotton grown in China that generates a bacterial insecticide.

    The strain has led to a reduction in the use of insecticide to control a major pest, the cotton bollworm.

    After the GM cotton was introduced, researchers saw a marked increase in numbers of pest predators such as ladybirds, lacewings and spiders.

    At the same time, populations of crop-damaging aphids fell.

    The predatory insects also controlled pests in neighbouring fields of non-GM maize, soybean and peanut crops, said the team led by Dr Kongming Wu from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing.

    Commenting on the study, Professor Guy Poppy from the University of Southampton, UK, said: "Global food security will require us to sustainably intensify agriculture. Opponents of GM have argued this can't be done through biotechnology, whereas this research challenges this view and demonstrates the wider benefits of using GM plants.

    "By reducing the need for insecticides against caterpillars, insect biodiversity is increased and this is shown to have added benefits outside of the GM crop field."

    Emma Hockridge, head of policy at the Soil Association, the British campaign group that advocates organic farming, said: "Encouraging predator insects is crucial to managing crop pests sustainably - indeed, that's how organic farmers avoid pesticides, using natural processes to encourage beneficial predators.

    "This study finds that Bt cotton is a better habitat for such predators than cotton that has been sprayed with pesticides.

    "What it doesn't cover is other recent research in China that has discovered increased insect resistance and increased numbers of pests developing in and around these GM cotton crops."

    Previous research by Dr Wu showed that one crop pest - the mirid bug - had boomed since the introduction of Bt Cotton, as it filled the gap left by other cotton pests. This had driven farmers back to using pesticides.

    Professor John Pickett from Rothamsted Research, UK, commented: "Many, including distinguished scientists, have looked for associated problems as the technology has been commercially developed throughout the world and, of course, we should always exercise caution in introducing new technologies.

    "However, use of GM-based Bt resistance to pest insects would not have advanced so dramatically without advantages, not least a reduction in use of insecticides against the target lepidopterous insect larvae."

    ----------------------------

    Links in the article, and probably the most important bit is the bit i've bolded. GM has many aspects to what it offers, but as we've seen with agricultural scientists in the past (cane toads/rabbits etc), they are often pressured by the big food industries to rubber stamp techniques before they are ready.
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  14. #514

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    'Should it be a crime to harm the environment?': An interesting article looking at this issue and one that seems quite popular in green circles.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-18455351

    "At the heart of its official negotiations, the Rio+20 summit is all about looking for political agreements that will improve the lot of society, particularly the poorest, and of nature.

    Politics isn't necessarily the best course, nor politicians the best people to plot such a course, to judge by the glacial, boulder-strewn pace of talks here in Rio.

    The science is clear on so many of the issues, and ministers acknowledge it - but they see many other factors too, which is why the political response on issues such as climate change often lags way behind the science.

    If politics can't get on with it, what about the law?

    In 1996, lawyer Mark Gray had a simple vision: make ecocide (destroying nature) a crime.

    Well, you might say, any country can do that - and many countries have, in various degrees. Depending on where you live, lighting bush fires, stealing birds' eggs, dumping old motor oil in streams and building on the habitat of a protected newt can all land you in court.

    But other nations don't have such laws. Also, activities that harm the natural world sometimes take place beyond national boundaries, such as exploitative high-seas fishing - and some of the worst are performed by companies belonging to one state but operating in the territory of another.

    Hence a move several years back by UK barrister Polly Higgins to make ecocide one of the five international "crimes against peace", joining war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression.

    The Eradicating Ecocide movement isn't talking about slap-on-the-wrist punishments for law-breaking.

    Last year they mounted a "trial" trial - a demonstration, if you will - where two CEOs of fictional Canadian tar sands companies faced a court staffed by real lawyers, a real judge and a real jury.

    One was "sentenced" to four years in jail.

    As well as bosses of misbehaving corporations, the movement believes ministers and heads-of-government that commit or allow ecocide should also stand trial.

    And cases could be brought on behalf of inhabitants, whether human or another species.

    The Eradicating Ecocide notion has gained some backing - from environmental activists of course, but also, I'm told, some governments, though I'm not aware of any that have gone public with it yet.

    The chances of gaining support from all governments would appear to be infinitesimally small, especially given that a number have chosen not to put themselves under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, the body that can hear cases brought under the four existing crimes against peace.

    But maybe that doesn't really matter. The main aim is to prevent ecocidal events from occurring in the first place; and if you have a corporation, say, that operates in many countries, some that are parties and some that aren't, it's going to have to adhere to the standards of those that are.

    Given where I came into this article, there's an irony here in that we're talking about lawyers saving the environment from lawyers.

    Most countries employ lawyers as negotiators in these UN processes, and that's partly why they get so bogged down.

    Working out the legal definition of a tree in the Kyoto Protocol took years.

    Yet in the court arena, the law has the capacity to cut through these very same knots. If your neighbour cuts down what any normal person would call a tree that's standing on your side of the fence, he/she can face punishment, with no arguments about the legal definition of said tree.

    So what would a normal person put under the heading of ecocide?

    The word gained an airing across the world 40 years ago, at the first UN environment summit in Stockholm, when Sweden's Prime Minister Olof Palme levelled the charge against the US over its use of defoliant chemicals during the war in Vietnam.

    In Polly Higgins' vision, ecocidal acts during war are not the main target - they'd be covered under some of the other crimes of peace.

    The main concern is what happens during normal times.

    So the law would presumably cover something like a massive oil leak caused by slack or actively risk-taking management, for example.

    Would fishing or hunting a species to near-extinction count? What about:

    the careless introduction of alien species that out-compete native ones
    a mine that pollutes its homeland
    over-enthusiastic use of pesticides that removes insect life from a tranche of land
    the diversion of a river for irrigation that drains wetlands and their spider inhabitants?

    Clearly there are some difficult issues here.

    If a company digs a massive mine, for example, there's going to be significant ecological damage in the area. But with will and the right approach, it can be restored after the mine closes.

    So would the initial dig qualify as ecocide for the damage it does?

    It'll be interesting to see how far the Eradicating Ecocide idea goes in the next few years.

    One senses inevitable resistance ahead from a number of very important countries. And dealing with that would be a matter of politics; which in the environmental arena, as we're seeing here in Rio, is often a long and messy business.

    A new environmental summit is about to take place in Brazil, 20 years after 172 nations gathered in Rio, for the Earth summit. To find out more about the issues facing the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20, see below."

    ------------------------------

    'See below' is for a range of pictographic charts and stats around the issue of current sustainability. And a number of links are in the article proper.
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  15. #515

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    'Healthy forests key for green growth, says UN report':

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-18491741

    ---------------------------------

    "The world's forests, if managed properly, can help deliver a strong and durable global green economy, a UN report has concluded.

    But the report's authors said that nations needed to do more to ensure the right policies are in place if forests are to meet their maximum potential.

    In another initiative, an international collaboration has pledged to restore 18 million hectares of wooded landscapes.

    The findings were launched at the Rio+20 summit in Brazil.

    "Forests and trees on farms are a direct source of food, energy and income for more than a billion of the world's poorest people," said Eduardo Rojas-Briales, assisant director-general for Forestry at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

    "At the same time, forests trap carbon and mitigate climate change, maintain water and soil health, and prevent desertification," he added.

    "The sustainable management of forests offer multiple benefits - with the right programmes and policies, the sector can lead the way towards more sustainable, greener economies."

    The report, The State of the World's Forests 2012, the 10th in the SOFO series, highlighted some of the main avenues in which money could figuratively grow on trees, including:

    Critical life support systems - can perform a range of "essential ecosystem funtions", such as regulating water supplies and buffering floods and droughts.
    "Engine of economic development" - SOFO highlights strong link between reforestation and growth, and deforestation and economic decline, hence the anti-poverty role of forests.
    "Key component of greening other sectors" - wood is still the primary energy source for one-third of the world's population, therefore - with the right policies - it can expanded to provide a global greener, cleaner energy source.

    The report, launched at the R+20 summit in Rio De Jainero, concluded that forests and forest products "will not solve the challenges of moving towards greener economies, but they will provide excellent examples and a source of hope".

    Also being announced at the summit was a joint pledge between a number of nations and NGOs to restore more than 18 million hectares of forest landscape.

    The US and Rwanda goverments teamed up with the Brazilian Mata Atlantica Forest Restoration Pact (made up from government agencies, NGOs, private sector bodies and indigenous groups).

    The annoucement forms part of the "Bonn Challenge", which was agreed in September 2011 and commits nations to restore 150 million hectares of forested areas by 2020.

    "The largest restoration initiative the world has ever seen is now underway," said Julia Marton-Lefcvre, director-general of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

    "[It] will provide huge global benefits in the form of income, food security and addressing climate change," she added.

    "We urge other countries and landowners to follow suit."

    ----------------------

    links in the article proper
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  16. #516
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    Mostly for Dale's benefit, but I thought this needed to be posted here.


    Um, I mean... :solemnFace: We must all dig deep and pray hard for all those to suffer nature's wrath in Melbourne's most damaging earthquake in decades.
    Spoiler:
    It was magnitude 5.2 and there have been no reports of injuries or notable damage. Don't worry.


    I was considering posting this in the global warming topic and (jokingly) blaming climate change, but I think this is a better fit.
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  17. #517

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    You had an earthquake? Ah yes you did! Was the table and chairs your damage from it? ( i hope that is as bad as it got for folks!)

    http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-...by-rare-quake/

    Part of australia (i guess the north east?) must be close to the pacific ring of fire thing, but on the south what you got? something to do with tasmania maybe?
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  18. #518
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    We got nothing. No volcanoes, no fault lines. So understandably, earthquakes here are both rare and weak. This was allegedly the strongest in around a century.

    EDIT: Also, that picture isn't from the quake. It was late-ish evening when it struck.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PiMan View Post
    We got nothing. No volcanoes, no fault lines. So understandably, earthquakes here are both rare and weak. This was allegedly the strongest in around a century.

    EDIT: Also, that picture isn't from the quake. It was late-ish evening when it struck.
    Gippsland is riddled with stress faults and gets tremors all the time (I can remember heaps from when I was a kid). BTW, Geoscience Australia upgraded it to a 5.5 making it the biggest earthquake in Victoria in 109 years.

    Ten late news reported SES getting minor damage reports from Moe and Morwell (10kms from epicentre), plus the power stations in the area haven't reported in yet.

    EDIT: Oh and I also posted that photo on my Facebook feed about 10 mins after it happened. Though I'm surprised to find out you read Bolt's blog.

    EDIT2: Geoscience Australia revised overnight to an official 5.3. It was really weird, it started off sounding like a huge truck driving past the house for a few seconds then a shockwave like a massive wind buffeted the house and it just shook for about 30 seconds. We had paintings move on the walls and a couple things fall off shelves. No damage but the house got a pretty good shake.
    Last edited by Dale; 19-06-12 at 22:36.
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    At least a dozen of my friends on Facebook posted or shared the picture (sometimes with varying captions). I took one of those.

    Part of the back fence of my house fell down, but it was already damaged and the landlord had been looking to replace the whole back fence anyway.
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