Elon Musk’s good and bad contributions to the environment

March 17, 2022 by  
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Progress towards fighting climate change and protecting the environment is often a case of taking one step forward followed by two steps back. It’s a curvy road to the ultimate end goal of a cleaner planet. That’s perhaps most visible in the actions and innovations of entrepreneur Elon Musk .  Musk is a complex individual and business person. His financial holdings are varied, estimated wealth difficult to wrap your head around and environmental impact a topic of much discussion. After all, he bores a tunnel through the ground, but then uses the removed dirt to make bricks for low-cost housing. Related: Tesla: the real environmental impact Furthermore, he ditched bitcoin as a Tesla payment option because it’s energy-consumptive. He also sold all his real estate holdings and moved into a tiny home instead. Then, he created a roofing material with built-in solar technology. Yet, he uses a private jet to get from here to there, producing a jet stream of CO2 in its wake. The guy appears to be a walking antithesis. So what’s the story? Tesla changed the electric vehicle game Obviously, Tesla’s success points to the consumer’s interest in doing what’s right for the environment. Considering vehicle emissions are one of the top contributors to air pollution . Greenhouse gasses contribute to global warming and replacing those gas-guzzling vehicles with quiet and emission-free electric cars is an obvious win for our lungs, as well as the lungs of the planet. Since day one, however, climate deniers and environmentalists alike have been quick to criticize the impact of Tesla production. Primarily, this focuses on recyclability of the lithium-ion batteries used to power the electric vehicles. The technology has come a long way with Tesla reporting the batteries are now comprised of 90% recyclable materials .  Tesla isn’t as eco-friendly as we think? Materials needed for the batteries are another point of contention. There are accusations of the poor treatment of Indigenous populations surrounding a lithium mine in Argentina. The lithium is a dirty source of graphite from China and cobalt mined under harsh conditions. Musk’s response is the supply chain is complicated and it’s difficult to unearth the exact location and process surrounding certain materials. However, the company is doing everything it can to ensure the material is ethically sourced. The company has also significantly cut back on the amount of cobalt in the batteries (reporting less than 3%), and stated they will produce cobalt-free batteries soon. Then there’s the spotlight on acid leaching caused by the extraction of lithium. So Musk created his own lithium-production. Tesla bought land in Nevada , developed the process and applied for the patent on a new method of pulling lithium from clay to address the need in a more sustainable way.  Next on the Tesla-bashing list of crimes is the amount of power charging these cars pulls from the grid. While it’s true they do require an energy source to plug into, the real question becomes how that charging port is powered. For example, in West Virginia, where the power grid is still nearly 100% fed by coal, the charging station isn’t going to be very environmentally clean. In contrast, California feeds the electrical grid with over 52% of renewable energy such as solar, geothermal, biomass, wind and hydroelectric. Since so much of the equation depends on the public grid, Tesla invested in its own solar production company. While the power generated doesn’t go directly into each Tesla, it does offset consumption in areas with less EV infrastructure in place.  SpaceX launched space tourism While Tesla might be the first name that comes to mind in association with Elon Musk, it’s certainly not his only notable endeavor. SpaceX is the commercial space program developing a future for space travel. However, even though the program receives an abundance of support, it’s not a business that would fall into the green design category. Rockets are bulky and resource consumptive to build, launch and dispose of. They also use copious amounts of fuel. And, the company does business on federally-protected lands.  In true Musk fashion, he’s considered each of these concerns. The mission for SpaceX was visualized in the Falcon spaceships. This out-of-this-world technology resulted in a reusable spaceship . Talk about recycling. The most expensive parts of the rocket can be sent into orbit again and again, carrying payloads and people. This design reduces costs, waste and environmental impact. The spaceships rely on a fuel of methane (CH4) and liquid oxygen (LOX) or kerosene, which are both cleaner alternatives to the previously-used and toxic hypergolic propellant. Furthermore, any area with huge industrial development will create an impact and Musk’s organizations are no exception. With Tesla’s first campus came promises for jobs along with issues related to commuting, campus waste and energy consumption. So when the team began developing the newest gigafactory in Sparks, NV, the focus quickly shifted to making it as energy-efficient as possible. As a result, the battery, engine and product manufacturing will be 100% powered by renewable energy. For the biggest building of its kind on the planet , that’s a massive investment and a statement to Musk’s often-questioned dedication to putting the planet first.  SpaceX also caused significant damages to the environment At exactly the same time, however, that commitment has to be questioned with the damaging effects of the SpaceX rocket launches in an ecologically-sensitive area of South Texas . Building rockets requires a lot of trial and error, so Musk bought a big chunk of remote land to play on. The problem is that it borders state and federal lands that have been set aside and protected for the sake of the unique biodiversity.  When Musk approached decision makers about setting up camp in their backyard, businesses and legislators saw dollar signs and economic opportunities for an area mostly known as a border town with the typical-related issues. But now that the company is established, urgent problems are quickly becoming more evident. Failed rocket launches are literally littering the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Studies have shown a decrease in animal activity, including a significant decrease in nesting sites for the snowy plover, which is already threatened. Other wildlife like the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles and the endangered ocelot call the region home. In addition, the ecology includes tidal flats, beaches, grasslands and coastal dunes, all at risk from rocket debris and impact from increased activity in the region.  There’s no doubt Elon’s companies leave a footprint — on both sides of the environmental equation. The unanswered question is which way the scales tip the most.  Via Guardian , Forbes Images via Pexels

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Elon Musk’s good and bad contributions to the environment

These detergents are eco-friendly, cruelty and waste free

March 17, 2022 by  
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SaltyLama laundry strips just launched in the U.S., creating an eco-friendly way to do your laundry. Their detergents are gentle on clothes, cruelty-free and reduce waste with fully compostable packaging. We’re hearing more and more about how plastic waste is an epidemic on our planet. Millions of tons of plastics end up in the ocean every year, and the problem is getting worse. Every year in the U.S., up to 68% of laundry detergent jugs are not recycled after use and 700 million laundry detergent jugs are thrown away. Related: Laundry detergent sheets from Frey are 100% plastic free By removing the plastic detergent bottle, SaltyLama, a startup out of Luxembourg, created an eco-friendly laundry alternative that also saves space. Laundry strips are water soluble sheets that look just like dryer sheets used for clothes softening. In this case, these laundry strips are also vegan friendly. Additionally, the lighter weight and smaller size of the packaging reduces transport loads and carbon emissions during delivery. Furthermore, SaltyLama laundry strips come in three scents: fresh scent, baby blossom and fragrance-free. One package lasts up to 34 loads of laundry. We love the fragrance-free option. Many people who are eco-conscious consumers are also careful about the chemicals they use in their home and on their skin. Why is it possible to save this much space and waste ? Laundry detergent is mostly water weight. If you take the plastic and the water waste out of the equation, all you’re left with is gentle detergent and a compostable box. You can buy a box at Amazon . + SaltyLama Images via SaltyLama When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commissions at no cost to you.

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These detergents are eco-friendly, cruelty and waste free

Wave energy sees ripples of activity in the U.S.

March 10, 2022 by  
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Riding a new wave of funding, the fledgling industry that aims to harness the power of the sea to produce electricity is coming to a crucial inflection point in its long haul toward commercialization.

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Wave energy sees ripples of activity in the U.S.

Luminia connects projects to clean energy and sustainability

March 2, 2022 by  
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California -based clean energy company Luminia has launched novel financing solutions and advanced technology to support commercial properties adopting sustainable improvements. Luminia has created a suite of solutions to foster sustainable development and transform existing commercial properties. Formerly known as SD Renewables, Luminia is a leader in providing sustainable technology and financing solutions. The company has a long-standing history of developing renewable infrastructure and real estate assets. Now, the brand wants to use its skills and leadership to help businesses overcome obstacles to meet sustainability goals. Carondelet High School in Concord, California, is one example of how Luminia’s solutions can work. Currently, the school operates exclusively on solar power . In partnership with Sun Light and Power, the school now enjoys a reduced carbon footprint and lower energy bills. “Luminia provided us with a financing solution under a very short timeframe, and it turned out to be a better option than what others were providing. Luminia viewed us as a partner and wanted to serve us properly, treat us well and make us a priority – which was extremely important to us,” said Noah Galabow, CFO of Carondelet High School. Luminia’s team of professionals helps guide the company. For example, Luminia co-managing partner David Field has worked with a platform that executed over 8,000 residential solar transactions worth over $350 million. Jim Kelly, another co-managing partner, has over three decades of experience in commercial real estate . “Over the last three decades I have grown acutely aware of the challenges in financing sustainability improvements for the commercial real estate industry. This experience guided our approach to inventing new ways for commercial property owners to achieve their ESG targets,” Kelly said. The solutions offered by Luminia come at a time of increased interest in eco-friendly properties. Businesses pushed to innovate are seeking sustainable technology for their projects. By addressing financing obstacles, Luminia can encourage companies to embrace clean energy and other sustainability features. + Luminia Via BusinessWire Lead image via Pexels

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ExxonMobil plays dirty to deny role in the climate crisis

January 19, 2022 by  
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ExxonMobil has turned to intimidation in attempts to stop its critics from taking legal action. The giant oil company is trying to use an unusual Texas law to target critics outside the state. Exxon has asked the Texas Supreme Court to allow it to use rule 202 to take on California municipal officials.   The move is in response to these California officials filing lawsuits against Exxon for its role in the climate crisis . Eight California cities and counties have accused the company of misrepresenting evidence to downplay the effects of climate change. The lawsuits claim Exxon even misrepresented evidence even from  its own scientists  about global warming. Related: New environmental racism scorecard calls out ExxonMobil The California lawsuits seek compensation from the company to address damages caused by wildfires , floods and other extreme weather events. Exxon claims that this infringes on its first amendment rights and that it will use rule 202 to demand justice from its accusers. “The potential defendants’ lawfare is aimed at chilling the speech of not just ExxonMobil, but of other prominent members of the Texas energy sector on issues of public debate, in this case, climate change,” the company claimed in its petition. Under rule 202, corporations are allowed to search for incriminating evidence, question individuals under oath and access documents. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has even written to the state’s all-Republican Supreme Court in support of Exxon’s request. Abbott accuses the California litigants of undermining the rights of Texan companies. “When out-of-state officials try to project their power across our border, as respondents have done by broadly targeting the speech of an industry crucial to Texas, they cannot use personal jurisdiction to scamper out of our courts and retreat across state lines,” Abbott wrote. Climate experts say that the move seeks to intimidate those who speak out against ExxonMobil and instill fear in anyone who wants to litigate against it. Via The Guardian Lead image via Mike Mozart

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ExxonMobil plays dirty to deny role in the climate crisis

Polar researchers discover enormous icefish nesting site

January 19, 2022 by  
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They have see-through skulls, transparent blood, and they built 60 million nests beneath the frigid waters of the Antarctic Sea. They’re Jonah’s icefish, and a polar  research  team has just discovered what might be their largest breeding colony in the world. Scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute in  Germany  were cruising the Antarctic Sea last year on the RV Polarstern with a mission to study ocean currents. They were surveying the seabed below the ship, dragging a camera system the size of a car to transmit photos to the deck, when they discovered the nests.  Related: New study sheds light on Antarctic sea ice mystery “We just saw fish nest after  fish  nest for the whole four hours, and during that time we covered maybe six kilometers (3.7 miles) of the sea floor,” said Autun Purser, a postdoctoral researcher at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven, Germany, as reported by CNN. “I’d never seen anything like it in 15 years of being an ocean scientist. After that dive, we emailed the experts on shore who know about fish like this. They said, yep, this is pretty unique.” Purser is the lead author of a study on the icefish colony published last week in  Current Biology . Icefish adapted to water temperatures as low as 0 degrees Celsius by evolving an anti-freeze protein in their blood that prevents the growth of ice crystals. An average icefish nest contains about 1,500 to 2,000 eggs and is guarded by an adult icefish.  Scientists  suspect these guards are male, but they admit they still have a lot to learn about these unusual creatures. But just because the ginormous icefish colony surprised scientists, it doesn’t mean nobody knew it was there. Weddell  seals , chubby carnivores who can dive down to depths of 2,000 feet, gave the nesting area five stars on the marine mammal review site Kelp, as well as naming it the top attraction on FlipperAdvisor. Scientists’ satellite tracking data confirms that the icefish nesting site is a major draw for Weddell seals. Via HuffPost , CNN Images © Purser et al., doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.12.022.

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Polar researchers discover enormous icefish nesting site

New winery in France is serving sustainable alcohol

January 4, 2022 by  
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Château Angélus recently acquired a new winery in Libourne, France , designed by Architect Eric Castagnotto from Architecte DPLG. The cellar is used for making Château Angélus’ second wine Carillon d’Angélus and a new wine Tempo d’Angélus introduced in Quebec in November 2021. Their goal is to create not only sustainable wine , but an eco-friendly winery rich in technological innovation, sustainable building and growing techniques. Carillon d’Angélus Cellar was already a winery but had become too small to accommodate new efficient equipment. The winery is located in the UNESCO World Heritage Site , limiting development possibilities and architecture for the new owners. Therefore, the owners decided to start from scratch with a new winery design in the nearby community of Saint-Magne-de-Castillon. Related: A French wine cellar’s updated facade doubles as housing for local bats The new  Carillon d’Angélus Cellar is 4,400 square-meter facility on 3.30 hectares. It is semi-submerged underground with a green roof . The wine-making cellar is gravity-fed. The design is inspired by wine-making cellar Fleur de Boüard in Lalande, which has 18 inverted truncated cone-shaped vats, hoist system and vat lift. Additionally, solar panels help with some of the power required for the operations. Furthermore, Carillon d’Angélus, and the full Chateau Angelus estate, is HVE3 certified. That means it is the highest level of High Environmental Value Certification honoring best practices regarding biodiversity , phytosanitary strategy and fertilization. The building is also Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) certified, which is the British equivalent of France’s Haute Qualité Environnementale (HQE). The new winery is planning plenty of experimentation with numerous prototypes for electronic mustimeters and grape washers. Carillon d’Angelus aims to be a center not only of eco-friendly wine production but of technological innovation for the industry. + GALLEON Fine Wines Images via GALLEON Fine Wines

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20 new electric vehicles driving onto the scene in 2022

November 29, 2021 by  
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Technology is advancing at the speed of light. Fortunately, some of that innovative effort is being funneled into more efficient and more appealing electric vehicles . As the new year approaches, production lines are rolling out a variety of new options at all ends of the electric vehicle spectrum, from luxury rides, to trucks, to recreational vehicles.  Audi E-tron GT The 2022 Audi E-tron GT shares some body-style characteristics with the notable Porsche Taycan. Along with the sporty look, the dual electric motors crank out a combined output of 469 horsepower. There’s also a higher-performance Audi RS E-tron GT that shows up with 637 horsepower. EPA fuel-economy is pending, but is estimated to come in at around 232 to 238 miles. Related: Kalk anti-poaching e-bikes join the battle in the African bush Audi Q4 E-tron Not quite as expensive as the Q5, the Audi Q4 E-tron gives an option for those seeking a compact luxury SUV . The rear-wheel drive Q4 40 offers a single electric motor and 201 horsepower while the Q4 50 has two electric engines with a combined 295 horsepower output. There is also a Sportback model to consider.  BMW i4 The all-new electric vehicle by BMW offers the identifiable style of the Gran Coupe and a distinctive front grille with a base model in the eDrive40 and a dual-motor all-wheel drive in the M50. Range estimates predict 245 to 300 miles.  Bollinger B1 and B2 Some vehicles just make a statement and the long-anticipated Bollinger models are expected to deliver on that front. Love them or hate them, customers have been waiting through production delays, so we may see some roll out by the end of 2022.  These rugged beasts mirror the days of the classic Land Rover, yet aim to deliver 200 miles of range without the environmental impact. It’s exciting to see the EV world moving offroad, as well as addressing improved performance such as towing and hauling. The B2 is expected to handle a 7,500 lbs tow and have a payload capacity of 5,000 pounds.  Cadillac Lyriq This isn’t your grandparents’ Cadillac . In fact, the Lyriq is an SUV built for a new generation of modern EV enthusiasts that have been considering the likes of the Tesla Model Y, Jaguar I-Pace and Audi E-Tron. In addition to the comforts one would expect from a Cadillac, the Lyriq promises to deliver a 300 mile range. The company just began taking orders with a deposit to hold your place in the production line. Canoo Lifestyle Vehicle Let’s have some fun. This is the 2022 version of the original Volkswagen van, with a much greener design . Canoo is set to launch next year and is promoting it as a multi-purpose rig that can haul or accommodate sleepovers. The starting price is approachable at $34,750 and estimates 250 miles of range.  2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV It’s new, yet familiar. That’s because it’s basically a longer version of the widely successful Bolt . It’s a crossover SUV with front-wheel drive and an estimated 247 miles of range. Ford F-150 Lightning Truck lovers unite on Ford’s F-150 Lightning . The EV market started with small cars, so the fact that we’re finally moving into mainstream options for big rigs in the EV world will open the doors to an entirely new customer base. While it looks like the much beloved F-150, this full-size crew-cab truck comes in several trim options at different price points. There will be two battery options that provide 230 to 300 miles of range.  Fisker Ocean Now we even have entirely new companies joining the party too. Fisker was founded in 2016, so they’re likely just as excited as consumers to see the first model roll out next year. There aren’t many details yet, but it’s one to watch. Ford E-Transit When you need to haul cargo or passengers, the Ford E-transit can meet the demands without the carbon emission waste . Although it only offers a 126-mile range, Ford anticipates the E-Transit will offer an option for companies to make deliveries on regular routes with lower impact.  Genesis GV60 Adding to the slightly less-luxury-class of the Kia EV6 and Hyundai Ioniq 5 , the GV60 hatchback will provide another option and will offer a variety of models and trims. GMC Hummer EV Pickup The easily identifiable GMC Hummer EV Pickup makes a statement in its massive composure, yet leaves behind a small footprint. The off-road design will take you places and the three electric motors will haul a load. However, you’ll have to get on a waitlist for this one or wait for other trims to be released next year.  Hyundai Ioniq 5 The Hyundai Ioniq 5 is an EV with many of the features you’d expect from the brand, but an entirely new exterior. The rollout may be sooner than expected as it may even hit the market before the end of 2021. There are a variety of trims and models with ranges from 244 to 300 miles. Kia EV6 Comparable to the Hyundai Ioniq 5 in many ways, the Kia EV6 brings battery options to an SUV-hatchback with a range up to 300 miles.  Lucid Air If you think Tesla is the only brand offering a sleek electric sedan, check out the much-anticipated Lucid Air. Not only will it bring a high-score for visual appeal, but it’s likely to set a new standard for energy-efficiency with a range estimate of 451 to 520 miles. Mazda MX-30 Another recognizable automaker is entering the EV market with Mazda’s MX-30 hatchback . The range is low at 100 miles and it will initially only be released in California, but we look forward to future redesigns.  Mercedes-Benz EQB and EQS What could be better than Mercedes-Benz quality blended with environment-loving EV technology? The fact there are two models to choose from. In fact, M-B plans to roll out a host of new electric SUVs and sedans over the next few years. The EQS carries a hefty price tag at around $100,000, but the EQB offers more affordability at half the price. While they work on a longer range, for a rig this size, the estimated 260 miles is worth consideration.  Rivian R1T Like we said, it’s fun to see EV trucks compete in the market. The all-new, fully-electric Rivian R1T brings four electric motors and notable ground clearance, so it’s suited for off-road action or a trip to the store. The range estimate is 316 miles.  Subaru Solterra Here again, we have yet another identifiable name with a first-time EV release. The Subaru Solterra has been a long time coming and will offer standard with all-wheel drive.  Volvo C40 Recharge Finally, at the end of the alphabet we have Volvo ’s first 100% EV. The all-wheel drive and dual motors offer a ride of 210 miles between charges. Via JD Power and Business Insider Lead images via Pexels

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20 new electric vehicles driving onto the scene in 2022

Renewables can power the world, according to new study

November 15, 2021 by  
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A recent study published in  Nature Communications  has found that renewables can meet most of the world’s energy needs. According to the authors, even the most industrialized countries that need a heavy power supply can rely on renewable energy, specifically wind and solar.   The study was led by researchers from the University of California, Irvine, to address concerns raised by critiques of renewable energy. As the world struggles to move away from fossil fuels , those opposed to the change have argued that renewables cannot reliably meet the energy needs of industrialized nations. Related: Solar program has customers saving money from renewable energy In response, the researchers behind the study analyzed the hourly electricity needs of 42 developed countries over the past 39 years. They found that wind and solar power could cover up to 80% of the energy needs of most developed countries without the need for heavy storage. The study further found that wind and solar could cover 72-91% of energy needs in most of the countries studied. With a boost of 12-hour battery storage, wind and solar could meet 83-94% of power needs in most countries. “Wind and solar could meet more than 80 percent of demand in many places without crazy amounts of storage or excess generating capacity, which is the critical point,” said Steve Davis, UCI professor of Earth system science. “But depending on the country, there may be many multi-day periods throughout the year when some demand will need to be met by energy storage and other non-fossil energy sources in a zero-carbon future.”  Researchers collaborated with experts from China’s Tsinghua University, the Carnegie Institution for Science , and Caltech. Although the authors agree that it will not be possible to phase out fossil fuels in a flash, they say that it can be done with consistent efforts from all stakeholders. “Historic data show that countries that are farther from the equator can occasionally experience periods called ‘dark doldrums’ during which there is very limited solar and wind power availability,” said lead author Dan Tong, assistant professor of Earth system science at Tsinghua University.  The scientists gave an example of a recent situation in Germany that left the country without solar for two weeks. In reference to such situations, they say that only small countries with high power demands such as Germany may be unable to meter their energy needs. “It comes down to the difference between the difficult and the impossible. It will be hard to completely eliminate fossil fuels from our power generation mix, but we can achieve that goal when technologies , economics and socio-political will are aligned,” said Davis. Via Newswise Lead image via Pexels

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Renewables can power the world, according to new study

VERGE 21 Opening Remarks: Climate action in a time of grief

November 2, 2021 by  
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GreenBiz Senior Vice President and VERGE Executive Director Shana Rappaport welcomes participants to VERGE 21 with a moving call to action about the power of embracing grief as we work to address the climate crisis. The surprise musical performance is by The Seastars, a band united by the shared purpose of using music and art as a vehicle to create a world that works for 100 percent of humanity and life on earth. “Move Me” is an original song by The Seastars — written by Ilana Lipsett, arranged by Sandra Kwak, with video direction and editing by Lilia Tamm for its world premier at VERGE 21.

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VERGE 21 Opening Remarks: Climate action in a time of grief

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