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BAU wow wow

How should we discuss scenarios of future emissions? What is the range of scenarios we should explore? These are constant issues in climate modeling and policy discussions, and need to be reassessed every few years as knowledge improves.

I discussed some of this in a post on worst case scenarios a few months ago, but the issue has gained more prominence with a commentary by Zeke Hausfather and Glen Peters in Nature this week (which itself partially derives from ongoing twitter arguments which I won’t link to because there are only so many rabbit holes that you want to fall into).

My brief response to this is here though:

Mike Mann has a short discussion on this as well. But there are many different perspectives around – ranging from the merely posturing to the credible and constructive. The bigger questions are certainly worth discussing, but if the upshot of the current focus is that we just stop using the term ‘business-as-usual’ (as was suggested in the last IPCC report), then that is fine with me, but just not very substantive.

References

  1. Z. Hausfather, and G.P. Peters, "Emissions – the ‘business as usual’ story is misleading", Nature, vol. 577, pp. 618-620, 2020. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/d41586-020-00177-3

103 Responses to “BAU wow wow”

  1. 51
    zebra says:

    #44 jef, #45 Mark BLR,

    Although your points are not related directly, they both contain a fatal flaw; they don’t address the vital question: How do you get from here to there?

    In my #47 response to MAR, I said “looking at geopolitical and economic realities…”.

    So, whether it is “making do with less” or “fusion fixes everything”, I don’t see why those choices would be made.

    Mark, fusion, even if it could be made to work, is going to have the same problem as fission… not a good investment compared to natural gas for electricity. And even if we solve the catalyst issue, the “hydrogen miracle” is going to be a questionable near-term investment compared to oil and gas extraction.

    And jef, we see all these projections of massive unemployment with the advances of automation and AI. If we all also stop buying stuff, then what? What happens in China? What happens in the US? What will people do to survive in this “simplified” new world?

    Anyone can think up grandiose scenarios, but the forces at work creating the problem are not going away through wishful thinking.

  2. 52
    jb says:

    KIA at 35: “That anyone would object to the word “mankind”, which has ALWAYS meant ‘all humans’, indicates that we don’t have much of importance to worry about.”

    Ignorant Guy at 49: “Reluctantly I have to admit that for once Mr Kia is right. ‘Mankind’ is not synonymous with ‘malekind’. It is synonymous with ‘humankind’.

    You’re both wrong. Use the dictionary before you lecture people on the meanings of words.

  3. 53
    Al Bundy says:

    Ignorant Guy: Reluctantly I have to admit that for once Mr Kia is right. “Mankind” is not synonymous with “malekind”. It is synonymous with “humankind”.

    AB: You’re touching on Bill Maher’s beef. Yeah, we’ve evolved since the days when men could sell their wife (apparently an England thing, according to a youtube I haven’t watched (yet?) ). Yeah, it would be grand for the language to drift towards “humanity”. Yeah, whining about the use of “mankind” will have the same effectiveness as trying to ban a book.

    Political correctness elects GOPpers.

  4. 54
    David B. Benson says:

    https://m.phys.org/news/2020-02-fireflies-extinction-threats-habitat-loss.html

    Bright lights too but not global warming.

  5. 55
    nigelj says:

    Jef @44, human civilisation is currently using up scarce resources that could lead to shortages in the future and lead to more basic lifestyles as a result. However it doesn’t make sense for our generation to hugely reduce our per capita use of resources and go poor, because we only delay the inevitable time future generations will run out.

    Theres just not much our generation can do that makes sense, other than trying to waste less and recycle more, and have small families. And doing some things to help reduce our carbon footprints. Think it through.

  6. 56
    Keith Woollard says:

    So this whole thread is about forecasts, and in particular how valid various scenarios are. Paul at #8 rightly pointed to some previous forecasts that were wildly inaccurate and suggested that the reason they were inadequate was “peak oil and fossil fuel depletion”. Anyone with even the simplest ability to read would know that is completely false and we are no where near peak oil, and even further from peak coal. Rather than point out this obvious error, I chose to suggest more diplomatically that we were not supply constrained, but demand limited.
    Now remember here we are talking about why the predictions did not happen. This is all past tense. As was the reference to starvation we were all going to be facing by the 1980s. So how do you science deniers respond?
    Kevin@14 and BPL@29 talk about what is going to happen. It’s always “just about to get worse”. Predict all you want, but this thread at it’s core is about the dangers of over-predicting. Learn from previous mistakes.

    And I wasn’t going to respond to Kevin’s “mankind” comment. I always welcome being reminded when I am being non-inclusive (I really mean that)… but I cannot tolerate hypocrisy. In the very same sentence that you call me out – you use “humanity” Hilarious!!! Do some research and then come back to me with an apology.

    God only knows what word we should use (perhaps you can ask her BPL), but humanity is no less sexist than mankind. Reminds me of the beginnings of PC back in the 1970s when there was a push to use “person” instead of man in various titles… except of course that has son and so there was the new word suggested peroffspring

  7. 57
    Thomas says:

    #13
    “So I ask again, why is RCP8.5 considered an improbable/impossible future?”

    To say it was possible or a genuine probability would be way to Skyrockety!!!

    Might even scare the kiddies, and we can’t have that. No matter how true it may be or become.

  8. 58
    Andrew says:

    How ironic that this post is about an article that argues about the definition of “BAU” (as related to climate models scenarios) and that the discussion seems to have descended into whether or not the word “mankind” is politically incorrect and the word “humankind” should be used instead…

    In both cases, a complete waste of time and internet bandwidth.

  9. 59

    #49, IG–

    Ah, but I never said that “mankind” meant anything other than what you so kindly offered up as definition. What I said was that I would *prefer* to use “humanity”. And so I do–or are you going to tell me I’m wrong about that?

    While we’re on the topic, I’ll just add that the reason I prefer it is because it is gender-neutral, and IMO it is better to use non-gendered language where there is no reason to bring gender into it. Denotation meaning is not the end-all and be-all of language use; connotation matters as well. Well, that and it’s quite surprising to me that a throw-away clause on a topic that’s hardly new is the occasion of yet more comment. Apparently, it struck a few nerves…

  10. 60
    Michael Sweet says:

    Off topic:
    On a live TV broadcast in Australia https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-australia-51369140/climate-change-australian-tv-audience-boos-sceptical-senator a Senator is booed by the audience when he says he questions in climate change is “human caused” He says “my mind is open” based on “I’m not relying on evidence”.

    Michael Man responds “you should keep open mind but not so open your brain falls out” (2:00, the very end).

    Three cheers for Michael Mann!!! On live TV!!

    (I put an identical post on unforced variations)

  11. 61
    Michael Sweet says:

    Off topic:
    On a live TV broadcast in Australia https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-australia-51369140/climate-change-australian-tv-audience-boos-sceptical-senator a Senator is booed by the audience when he says he questions in climate change is “human caused” He says “my mind is open” based on “I’m not relying on evidence”.

    Michael Man responds “you should keep open mind but not so open your brain falls out” (2:00, the very end).

    Three cheers for Michael Mann!!! On live TV!!

    (I put an identical post on unforced variations)

  12. 62
    MA Rodger says:

    Mark BLR @45,
    I fear you see an ambiguity in my comment @43 that was not there and go on to create yet more ambiguity, in that I’m not sure if your follow-on remarks are saying RCP8.5 will be easily achieveable due to coal gasification or whether it will be easily prevented by fancy nuclear technology. However I should add that such consideration is probably part of a mitigation discussion. The discussion here is surely not about which technology could be a means of mitigating AGW but about defining probable outcomes (which I would argue includes RCP8.5) and how BAU is placed within those probable outcomes.

    And in such discussion, the present situation must be the start point from which the future trends are in some way accounted.
    Regarding BAU, perhaps it could be argued to be that projected by the EIA’s International Energy Outlook 2019 which runs to 2050.
    The EIA projections show peak emissions from FF-use not appearing before 2050, which is not unlike RCP6.0, but there is no sign of oil & gas reserves running dry or the 6.5-times increase in coal use. As a result the 2050 FF-use emissions are pretty-much as per RCP6.0 (although buried within RCP6.0 are negative LUC emissions from 2030-on rather than positive ones). The EIA also show renewables only increasing in capacity at the same rate as we see today, giving a five-fold increase by 2050.
    So what is supposed to happen after 2050 could be the most telling part of any BAU/RCP6.0 story. Would a BAU post-2050 see a continued increase in energy consumption, little new renewables and a big shift back to coal as oil and gas reserves run dry? If so, that would be a big step beyond RCP6.0 towards RCP8.5.
    And even if that were not likely, I worry about the discussion including post-2050 details. If RCP6.0 is made the new BAU but still dependent on post-2050 emissions, I imagine it would be soon used to argue that RCP6.0 isn’t so bad an outcome and given that, we thus don’t need to be doing anything to mitigate AGW yet for another couple of decades or so.

  13. 63
    MA Rodger says:

    Keith Woollard @56,
    You mention the graphics linked @8 but do be advised that they are pretty badly drawn. The red line in the left-hand graph supposedly plotting the 1969 projection seen in the right-hand graph has not been converted from tons-coal to tons-oil and so Thomas-like it streaks off far too steeply, while the left-hand graph (originally from here) heavily depends on Hubbert Linearisation in its projections, use of which is probably as unfortunate as the ruler-drawn 1969 projection in the right-hand graph (which of course was drawn just prior to the oil-crisis).

  14. 64
    Al Bundy says:

    Andrew: In both cases, a complete waste of time and internet bandwidth.

    AB: Bullshit. The Internet’s primary utility is to provide low carbon entertainment. Everyone who spends time writing or reading “a complete waste of time” is doing grand service by reducing the world’s non-virtual productivity. (Productivity spews carbon).

  15. 65
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Andrew: “… the discussion seems to have descended into whether or not the word “mankind” is politically incorrect and the word “humankind” should be used instead…
    In both cases, a complete waste of time and internet bandwidth.”

    Frankly, I do not think that inclusion is a waste of time. Nor do I think that efforts to comprehend unconscious bias in our language.

    If we want to combat unconscious bias, we have to make ourselves conscious of our words, their origins and the effects they have. This is not “political correctness”. It is explicit inclusion. It is nothing more than courtesy.

  16. 66
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Keith Woollard, I’m concerned. Not only do you demonstrate your usual inability to read for content, you seem to have completely forgotten that the previous two posts show just how close the predicted temperature rise has been to the reality. Inability to read is one thing, but short-term memory loss could be serious. Please get it checked out.

  17. 67
    Richard Creager says:

    Killian, #11. great commentary. thanks for the post.

  18. 68
    nigelj says:

    “…. discussion seems to have descended into whether or not the word “mankind” is politically incorrect and the word “humankind” should be used instead…”

    We need a new Murphys Law: If a subject goes off topic, it will go off topic in the most bizarre way imaginable.

  19. 69
    nigelj says:

    KW says “anyone with even the simplest ability to read would know that is completely false and we are no where near peak oil, and even further from peak coal.”

    Can this sort of thing be boreholed? Its just a time wasting rhetorical claim. People who make big claims like this need to provide a credible internet link.

    The following suggests peak oil in roughly 20 years:

    https://www.dw.com/en/when-will-peak-oil-hit-global-energy-markets/a-51367939

    There are 150 years of coal left at current rates of production. Bear in mind some of that will not be economic to extract.

    https://www.worldcoal.org/coal/where-coal-found

  20. 70

    Keith Woolard said:

    “Paul at #8 rightly pointed to some previous forecasts that were wildly inaccurate and suggested that the reason they were inadequate was “peak oil and fossil fuel depletion”. Anyone with even the simplest ability to read would know that is completely false and we are no where near peak oil, and even further from peak coal.”

    LOL, we are “no where near peak oil” (sic) because we are well past it! Why do you think the USA has resorted to trying to force oil out of tight shale layers?

    While I write this, I am listening to Trump tell lies about how the USA is “energy independent” as part of his state-of-the-union speech. Tell me how the USA can be independent of foreign crude oil when they consume over 20 million barrels a day but produce less than 13 million barrels a day. Ooops!

  21. 71
    Al Bundy says:

    mrkia: but I cannot tolerate hypocrisy. In the very same sentence that you call me out – you use “humanity” Hilarious!!! Do some research and then come back to me with an apology.

    AB: I’ll bite. “Humanity” is totally gender, skin, intelligence, everything non-specific. You are human. I am human. NOBODY is excluded in any way, shape, or form.

    Your point? My guess is that you’re gonna expend your teensy tiny conservative intellect in flailing about how “humanity” can be erroneously conflated with your chosen bigoted word. Why aren’t you defending non-bigoted words with the same zeal as bigoted words? O, yes, I forgot. You’re a bigot who points at the brilliance of liberals to crow about conservative “values”.

    Remember, almost all advances are accomplished by LIBERALS. Deny it. I dare you.

  22. 72

    Keith Woolard, #56–

    –OT Alert!–

    Etymology: < Anglo-Norman humeigne (feminine), humane (feminine), Anglo-Norman and Middle French humain, humayn (French humain ) of or belonging to people (as opposed either to animals or to God) (1119 in Anglo-Norman), having human nature or characteristics (c1170), composed of people (c1174), benevolent (c1175), having people (as opposed to God) as its subject (1552 in letres humaines : compare humane letters n. at humane adj. Special uses) and its etymon classical Latin hūmānus of or belonging to people (as opposed either to animals or to divine beings), characteristic of people, civilized, cultured, cultivated, kindly, considerate, merciful, indulgent < the same base as homin- , homō homo n.1 + -ānus -an suffix, although the origin of the vocalism is unclear. Compare Old Occitan uman , Catalan humà (14th cent.), Spanish humano (c1200), Portuguese humano (13th cent.), Italian umano (13th cent.). With use as noun compare classical Latin hūmānus human being, hūmānum that which is human (uses as noun of masculine and neuter respectively of hūmānus , adjective), French humain human being (1340 in Middle French, usually in plural), human nature (a1630). Compare humane adj.

    OK, now explain why I’m supposed to “apologize” for preferring “humanity” to “mankind.” And while you’re at it, explain why careless accusations of “hypocrisy” aren’t just, you know, being a jerk.

  23. 73
    Keith Woollard says:

    Very brief answers:
    MAR@63, surely your complaint is against Paul@8. I didn’t provide graph, I just said why Paul was wrong to attribute the incorrect prediction to peak oil
    Ray@66, Paul’s 8 nor my various replies talk about temperature
    Nigelj@69, Peak oil has always been 20 years away since I was in primary school in the early 1970s…. and yet it keeps going up
    Paul@70, see above, except you go further that nigelj, and claim we are past it. Just try and find yourself a graph of oil production and tell me when it peaked. And I am sorry I often choose “no where” instead of “nowhere”, I find it more definitive when talking to a multicultural audience, but I do make an effort to spell people’s names correctly
    Al@71 Human comes from the Latin for man
    Kevin@72, see above, and don’t put quotes around my comment and change the word. You can put z in as many words as you like, but don’t change mine.

  24. 74
    Mr. Know It All says:

    49 – Ignorant Guy
    “Reluctantly I have to admit that for once Mr Kia is right.”

    Thanks – it’s basic common sense, which isn’t all that common today.

    53 – Al Bundy
    “Political correctness elects GOPpers.”

    Al is learning.

    71 – Al Bundy
    “mrkia: but I cannot tolerate hypocrisy. In the very same sentence that you call me out – you use “humanity” Hilarious!!!….”

    Al, I did not write that – I can’t remember who did.

    71 – Al Bundy
    “Remember, almost all advances are accomplished by LIBERALS. Deny it. I dare you.”

    I dare you to prove it. List all advances by liberals and all advances by “conservatives” or “non-liberals” and we’ll tally them up and count ’em*. Please document the political leaning of those who made each advance with footnotes. Before you show us the list we need to agree on what percentage will constitute “almost all advances”. I’m thinking 90% or higher. We’ll make it as scientific as possible.
    *Do NOT allow the DNC to do this – they are incapable of doing it.

    For those who missed it another thread, please take a peek at this video of an almost carbon-free trip to the North Pole and return, via nuclear powered Russian ice breaker. Carbon free – that’s what it’s all about, right E-P?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRRy6t5K3R4

    Also, take a peek at the beautiful scenery seen on a flight from Germany to the North Pole and back. Awesome!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SlS_FLwcAN8

    Once AGW melts all the Greenland ice, it looks like with a lot of dams you could make pumped hydro work up there! Maybe Greenland can power the world! Who wants to run the numbers?!
    :)

  25. 75
    Mark BLR says:

    MA Rodger @62

    … I’m not sure if your follow-on remarks are saying RCP8.5 will be easily achieveable due to coal gasification or whether it will be easily prevented by fancy nuclear technology

    It was a light-hearted (and hence subject to Poe’s Law) attempt to remind people that “The only thing constant in life in change”.

    RCP8.5’s high CO2 emissions mostly come from burning coal to produce electricity.

    Using gas “only” produces 50% of the CO2 per MWh.

    RCP8.5 will be “easily preventable” if a method of producing enough energy to “gasify” coal (without producing any additional CO2 …) were to be developed. Fusion is only one such currently theoretical (/ only at the prototype stage), AKA “magical”, technology that could be used for that purpose.

    By point was that any such developments, which are impossible to “predict” with certainty at this time, would actually be used to produce electricity directly (instead of using it to “gasify” coal for current technology CCGT power plants), which would completely eliminate CO2 emissions (from electricity production, at least), not “just” reduce them by 50%.

    Current (CCGT) technology can be used to reduce CO2 emissions per MWh by 50% for any given future “pathway” (to 2100) that includes coal power plants.

    “Constant change” in technology in general over 80 years will only increase that percentage, even if it doesn’t reach the 100% of my specific “dream scenario” where fusion reactors become commercially viable in the 2050s or 2060s (or even as late as the 2070s).

    – – – – – – – – – – –

    Try the following variant of the “The only thing constant in life in change” notion, combined with your answer to the “How much has technology changed over the last 80 years ?” question.

    The number of nuclear fission power plants in 1940 (80 years in the past …) was 0. There are currently around 450 in operation worldwide.

    I would postulate that the number in 2100 (80 years in the future …) will have fallen to 0 again. Does that sound “reasonable / realistic” to you (especially post-Chernobyl / Fukushima) ?

    The number of coal power stations envisaged by RCP8.5 in the year 2100 is unrealistic (as are the associated atmospheric CO2 levels).

  26. 76
    Mark BLR says:

    MA Rodger @62 (V2)

    Would a BAU post-2050 see a continued increase in energy consumption, little new renewables and a big shift back to coal as oil and gas reserves run dry?

    Missed this on my first read through your post.

    In 2050 “we” will have 30 more years worth of actual measurements of GMST and SLR. “We” will be able to see which RCP “GHG emissions pathway” was followed in real life up to then, as well as how the actual “Earth climate system” responded.

    Maybe the IPCC’s “AR10” report will include an updated ECS estimate with a narrower “likely range” than 1.5-4.5°C (per CO2 doubling) … maybe.

    If the conclusion is that THE MOST important “crisis / emergency” comes from CO2 emissions then the people in 2050 will NOT decide to make “a big shift back to coal”.

    Under those circumstances, “as oil and gas reserves run dry” they would be much more likely to make “a big shift back to fission reactors” instead, as well as investing “crisis / emergency” levels of research funding into “molten-salt / thorium-cycle” technologies as a “stopgap / transitional” measure (while genuinely “renewable” [ and “nuclear waste disposal” … ] technologies are developed in parallel, assuming that option would take longer to play out).

    In addition to being (much !) closer to knowing whether (or not) fusion can finally be classified as “just a pipe-dream”, people in 2050 will have the empirical data to decide whether “coal” or “fission” counts as “the lesser of 2 evils” for electricity generation in the second half of the 21st century.

  27. 77
    Guest (O.) says:

    Looks like the discussion is about how does presenting the data (as graphs) influence the audience.

    If you always present whorst case / catastrophic scenarios, then people (and deciders) may become accustomed to them, and don’t fear them, because they always appear on the graphs – as one possible option. And an option is something which people might choose – so should they be avoided, so that the choices lie only in the less-harming scenarios?

    If you don’t present the catastrophic-scenaros, deciders may just chose between the presented options, the harmful and the less harmful, but not the catastrophic ones? But then they also are not aware of them – and all options look more or less acceptable, with the result of not taking necessary actions serious enough … and then possibly the catastrophic scenarios will occur more likely?

    The same with the extended timeline I mentioned a few times during the last weeks.
    If the date of the typical projectsions (2100) is not in the graph, so then the possible outcomes are not present in the mind of the audience (and the higher temperature in 2100 will not be in the graph, hence people see only those values of temp., which are not that extreme).
    But if you present the extended timeline (which has no measured data for the future), then the problem addressed with how to present future scenarios will pop up.

    I think, climate scientists should ask their colleagues from the psychological department on this topic, as they are laymen in that field. Just as the psychologists (and other non-climatologists) should ask their researchers from the climate science department, when they want to know detals about the physics of the climate.

    So of course it’s good to have that discussion here. But it’s also good to ask the experts about these psychological things (on perception and decision making).

  28. 78
    Geoff Beacon says:

    In IPCC SR15, there is a discussion of the Shared Socio-Economic Pathways (SSPs), which create estimates of greenhouse gas emissions from different assumptions about the way we might change aspects of our lines.

    These estimates of emissions can be tested with climate models to see how the climate goals of the Paris Agreement might be be met.

    SR15 says

    outright reductions in travel demand (e.g., as a result of integrated transport, land-use and urban planning), figure much less prominently.

    Does this mean the authors of the SSPs have not dared ask us to give up our cars?

    Cars have carbon footprints that soon exceed remaining carbon budgets.

    Surely this means:

    We can have cars to drive or a planet to live in.

    But not both.

  29. 79
    nigelj says:

    Keith Woolard @73

    “Peak oil has always been 20 years away since I was in primary school in the early 1970s…. and yet it keeps going up”

    Peak oil is pretty near. We wont go on finding new reserves forever and the number of new discoveries has declined over time. This might be of interest on predictions about peak oil made in the 1970’s:

    https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1260/014459802321615108

    An excerpt: In general, oil forecasts made in the 1970s fit into one of four categories:

    (a) Non-quantitative fears of global supply scarcity, based on the experience of shortages that occurred during the oil shocks.

    (b) Predictions that global oil would run out (i.e., reach exhaustion) in 30 years or so, based on the then-proved oil reserves of about 30 years’ worth of current production.

    (c) Predictions of oil global exhaustion on a shorter timescale, based on the then proved oil reserves (or some larger amount), but with demand assumed to rise at a fast exponential rate.

    (d) Predictions that global oil production would rise substantially, reach a ENERGY EXPLORATION & EXPLOITATION resource-limited maximum production rate around the year 2000, and decline thereafter. This was a very different view to predicting near- or medium-term oil exhaustion….

  30. 80
    Al Bundy says:

    Mrkia, asking the impossible is dorky. You are seriously asking for a dissertation in a comment section?!? That’s laughable.

    I’ll make a casual observation instead. California and New York are the USA’s engines of creativity. Thus, creative folks tend to migrate there. Both states are emphatically liberal as a result.

  31. 81
    Al Bundu says:

    BAU and future burning of fossils and RCP 8.5? Mother Nature is gonna show up all saddled up with feedbacks and tipping points and sneer, “Fuels? I don’t need no stinking fuels to do 8.5

  32. 82
    Al Bundy says:

    Mrkia: Al is learning.

    AB: Strange that it took you so long to notice my passion. But thanks, I guess.

  33. 83
    nigelj says:

    I’m inclined to agree with AB that various things suggest liberals are more creative and innovative than conservatives. No reason that they have to be, because both liberals and conservatives have imaginations, but I suspect whats different is liberals welcome change and conservatives are more cautious about change, (the usual dictionary definition) so obviously more liberals are likely have a career involving innovation and creativity.

    However I’ve noticed a lot of engineers are conservative. I work with these guys. They are good at assembling things provided there is a clear end goal.The world would not progress without liberals, but it would not function without conservatives.

  34. 84

    Keith Woollard said:

    “Paul@70, see above, except you go further that nigelj, and claim we are past it. Just try and find yourself a graph of oil production and tell me when it peaked.”

    Very straightforward to show, but for completeness I will refer you to our book on oil depletion, published last year by AGU/Wiley.

    ww.wiley.com/MathematicalGeoenergy:Discovery,Depletion,Renewal-p-9781119434290

    One of the issues is that many will try to redefine what crude oil means, eventually including biofuels, coal-to-liquids, condensed natural gas, etc, to make for the fact that we are past peak on what is considered conventional crude oil from traditional reservoirs. This hit a peak of around 72 million barrels per day in 2005. See this paper from Nature in 2012 as well Oil’s tipping point has passed

    Like Trump, you can try lying about this situation but it’s impossible to get around the law of finite & non-renewable resources.

  35. 85
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundu @82, “BAU and future burning of fossils and RCP 8.5? Mother Nature is gonna show up all saddled up with feedbacks and tipping points and sneer, “Fuels? I don’t need no stinking fuels to do 8.5”

    You could be right, but the tipping point that could lead a to really substantial run away increase in CO2 is the arctic permafrost, and that doesn’t trigger until 5 degrees of warming (see below) so if theres not enough coal etc to get us to 5 degrees we don’t trigger that permafrost tipping point.

    https://www.pnas.org/content/115/33/8252

  36. 86
    Jim Eager says:

    Arguing about BAU, peak oil and 8.5 is missing the obvious. How high temperature ultimately rises is not the most pressing threat, it’s simply rising too slowly. Sea level is rising even slower. The immediate threat is disruption of weather patterns and the hydrological cycle, and that is already happening. Fast. You can’t feed 7.8 billion humans without industrial scale agriculture, and it depends on predictable and dependable precipitation where you need it when you need it, and that’s exactly what we are loosing. Fast.

    Think back to 2010, the year of the drought, heat wave and wild fires that forced Russia to halt grain exports. It’s also the year that Pakistan’s wheat crop was devastated by an exceptional monsoon and resulting floods. And that winter, or rather Austral summer, the Murray Basin was in drought while crops in the northeast were flooded out by two tropical storms in a row. All in a single year.

    We can deal with a single such year, of course, but what happens when similar conflations of crop failures recur in multiple succeeding years, and then annually?

    Food security is clearly the most immediate existential threat that climate change presents. BAU insures that it will be a much reduced human population that will have to deal with the slower effects of climate change, but it will also likely preclude reaching 8.5.

  37. 87

    #85, nigel–

    …the tipping point that could lead a to really substantial run away increase in CO2 is the arctic permafrost, and that doesn’t trigger until 5 degrees of warming…

    Nigel, love ya, but I really don’t think so. Your source identifies 14 other tipping points, most of them more sensitive than the permafrost, and some of which have very large potentials for carbon feedbacks. (Maybe not as large as the permafrost, but still.) Others (such as the various cryosphere feedbacks) don’t affect carbon directly but do exert radiative effects. And those will affect other feedbacks… for instance, the loss of summer sea-ice will certainly have a negative effect on the permafrost via its radiative effect on the regional temperature.

    Bottom line on this point for me: yes, permafrost may be the biggest pure carbon feedback, but that doesn’t mean that the effects of the other ‘tipping points’ are negligible, nor that permafrost is independent of their effects.

    …so if theres not enough coal etc to get us to 5 degrees we don’t trigger that permafrost tipping point.

    In view of what I just pointed out, really no. Way back in 2004 (IIRC) modeling of carbon the global carbon cycle showed the potential for warming to ‘tip’ the Amazon rainforest into a savannah ecosphere, triggering a carbon release that was good for a couple of degrees C warming–which, of course, would then trigger other ‘tipping’ factors in a cascade. I’m not sure how robust that result is considered to be today, 15 years later, but it at least illustrates that there is evidence that any one of those feedbacks could be quite consequential.

    If I understand your cite correctly–and I admit that as of now I’ve no more than scanned it quickly–the whole point is that, as it says in the introductory section:

    …a warming into the range of even the lower-temperature cluster (i.e., the Paris targets) could lead to tipping in the mid- and higher-temperature clusters via cascade effects. Based on this analysis of tipping cascades and taking a risk-averse approach, we suggest that a potential planetary threshold could occur at a temperature rise as low as ∼2.0 °C above preindustrial (Fig. 1).

    As I read it, potentially all we need is enough FF (and/or land-use lunacy) to get to 2 C, and feedback cascades could very plausibly take us into the 5C world–even if we mitigated our own emissions at that point. It would be too little, too late.

    Of course, we’re already at 1 C. And don’t look now–or, better, do look–but much of the Arctic permafrost zone is at 2 C because of Arctic amplification:

    https://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/maps/index_v4.html

    Recall that, per the paper, both the Greenlandic ice sheet and Arctic sea-ice feedbacks are at risk of tipping for the 1-3 C range…

  38. 88
    Killian says:

    Re #40 nigelj said Killian@27

    “1. You don’t mean realistic, you mean probable. 2. It is not supposed to look probable, it’s supposed to reflect the utter stupidity of inaction, which, given that means billions die, if not extinction, would be utterly stupid.”

    Ok RCP 8.5 is no longer probable. It is no longer “probable” because we just dont have that many coal reserves, and wind power is already cheaper than coal, and some progress has been made with mitigation . The claim is that RCP 8.5 has been effectively cancelled, and we are a a little bit closer to RCP 6, which is still a bad scenario anyway in terms of warming outcomes. And I would definitely say we are only a little bit closer.

    Yeah, and coal is the only source of massive amounts of carbon.

    Be quiet.

    Re #39 Al anklebiter said Killian: Nope. Unless you can eat interest, profits, stocks, accounting and it’s many 1 and 0’s, computer code, etc.

    AB: Paul and I were speaking of the production and consumption of fossil fuels. What does “eating” or “accounting” have to do with it?

    I guess I read too fast and generalized the point of production and consumption being tied at the hip.

    I was not speaking to you or about your precious baby.

    Childish. Straw Man.

  39. 89
    Killian says:

    Re #41 Dan Miller said Re: #11 – Killian. I generally agree with what you are saying… how can you solve a problem if you’re not willing to talk about it? Fear is not only a motivating emotion, it is the #1 motivator! Combine it with a solution and the public will demand action.

    Ironic, isn’t it, the failure to grasp and/or accept the efficacy of fear coupled with solutions is due to… fear?

    I don’t know what you mean by “simplicity”

    Then we need to talk, particularly if you have Hansen’s ear.

    I would suggest a Fee and Dividend carbon tax that encourages carbon capture and negative emissions.

    Yes, I first heard of F&D via Hansen. It made sense because I had suggested a grant-based nation-wide build out of micro-grids back in 2008. (Doing that negates all need or usefulness of the dangerous and unsustainable use of nuclear, btw, all the more so if simplification is our primary response.)

    http://aperfectstormcometh.blogspot.com/2008/03/build-out-grid-vs-household-towards.html

    We can suck CO2 out of the atmosphere starting at a small scale now and getting to 40+ Gt/year in a decade or two.

    Actually, by simplifying first then going global with regenerative farming + reforestation/aforestation, additional sequestration via bio-char, natural building, etc., I’ve made BOE calculations of lowering atmospheric CO2 by anywhere from 2 to 5 ppm/year, which could get us back under 300ppm in as little as 20 years, theoretically. For purely pragmatic, and stupid, reasons of politics, social inertia, fear, etc., 50 years to not just carbon neutral, but back under 300ppm would be easy.

    I’d appreciate any help you might offer in looking at those numbers to both verify and get the concepts down to solid computations. I very much suck at math.

    A steadily rising carbon fee will drive an energy transition and the deployment of negative emissions infrastructure.

    Not even close to fast enough from a potential risk perspective, imo, but, yes, it would help. My suggestion would be that F&D be a targeted to funding localized energy/sustainability efforts until a home/community reaches some level of self-reliance in those regards. I’ve said this to a lot of people and gotten no response – including Jim – but it makes a massive amount of sense to me.

    Cheers

  40. 90
    Killian says:

    Re #44 jef said There is a line in “The day the Earth stood still” that says; “But it’s only on the brink that people find the will to change. Only at the precipice do we evolve.” It’s a movie/book I know but I believe it is true. If we keep telling people that we are no where near the brink then they will not respond properly.

    Killian – I agree completely and have said much the same as you at every opportunity. Instead of simplicity, when people ultimately ask “so what do we do?” I say LESS. We could stop doing half of the destructive BS we busy ourselves with almost immediately. Then we could simplify even further while making sure everyone is ok. This does not mean going back to the stone age at all. I have been advocating for this for over 15 years now and it always amazes me that the hardest thing for people to do is less.

    Perhaps we should put our heads together more directly via social media, direct communiction…

  41. 91
    Killian says:

    Re #48 Scott E Strough said

    [Note: In the future, please copy both sides of the argument. Having to go back and forth between your response and the previous post has me not wanting to even bother.]

    No, actually I am using systems science and holism to include factors that you either haven’t considered as part of that complexity, or that you considered and rejected, and I believe you should reconsider.

    Yeah, not the case. Ever since conversing with Tainter at a conference in 2010, I’ve got complexity fairly locked down.

    You said, “We will see SLR of meters even if we could get to 260ppm today”
    ->I’d like to see a citation or three for that.

    Not gonna side track this, but lots of evidence to support this. Top scientists have acknowledged even crazy talk like 5M by 2100 actually can’t be ruled out. Since I’ve not been wrong on climate science yet, with the exception of the extent of ASI melt, I’ll keep my own counsel on this.

    You said, “There is no solution set that can maintain market capitalism and unending growth. Those with power and wealth will resist.”
    ->Unending is a long time. Long enough to fix this particular problem? Fairly easy.

    Not the way you want to go about it, imo.

    I couldn’t even speculate on forever…. You shouldn’t either.

    Opinion, but forever is exactly what we should consider as the difference between 7 generations and forever is a distinction without a difference.

    But more importantly is that of course capitalists will resist your plan to dismantle capitalism.

    I reject that framing. I have no animosity towards capitalism. I analyze and follow the analysis. Pedantics aside, yes, power and wealth always resist not being power and wealth.

    There are plenty of potential solutions that can not only maintain capitalism, but actually strengthen it, and make it more equatable. Those in power are far less likely to resist these sorts of solutions.

    While the second sentence is true, the first is absurd. This is where we part ways. That people can say permaculture and regenerative on the side and capitalism on the other tells me they don’t fully understand one, the other, or both.

    I find it useful to apply simplicity: What are the principles underlying the two? On one, it’s growth, accumulation, selfishness, comfort, power, control and on the other it’s stable abundance, needs, sharing, pragmatic comfort, group decision-making and Commons. Dem. Socialism does nothing but flatten market capitalism a little. It solves none of the long-term thermodynamics and what one might call the long-term socio-poilitico-economic thermodynamics.

    But the real problem here is risk and time. While it’s comforting to think “the science” says we have time, it’s also clear that very large errors in analysis have occurred in guessing how fast change would come and what sensitivity to temp changes would be. IMO, “the science” has been far off in underestimating the effects of temps even as they pretty much nailed the temps themselves – though I think the temps are going to start diverging from the models as we move forward… as the newer models might be indicationg.

    This reinforces that we can’t predict tipping points. The thinking that we can wait 30 years just to get to the point of net zero emissions or a little bit of negative emissions is just insane to me. Simplification can be done in 5. if it can be done, why not do it? You claim we don’t have time for simplification? That makes less sense than nigel does! As jef said,

    I say LESS. We could stop doing half of the destructive BS we busy ourselves with almost immediately. Then we could simplify even further while making sure everyone is ok. This does not mean going back to the stone age at all.

    Let me paraphrase further: Stop. Just. Stop. Truly germane analysis of a regenerative shift must embrace the simplicity of First Principles, and this the simplicity of permacultural systems – yet even most permies fail to do this. What is the principle, greed or need? Design to need. [Shut up, nigel.] What do we quite literally need? The vast majority of humanity needs energy (food), water and stable body temperature. That maintains life. So, if we make ourselves drop to this as a starting point (not an aspiration), much more becomes plausible. We all know, even the hardcore market capitalists, that if banks and all finance magically disappeared tomorrow it need change nothing. If all those who do productive work with resources kept doing those things, absolutely nothing would need to stop or shut down that is important to the stability of civilization. If factory workers showed up, did their work, the steel would still be made. The difference? Now it can be allocated to need. Or, if not needed, everyone can have a rest.

    If the farmers just kept farming, everyone could still eat. Money does not make things flow, it prevents flows. It abstracts and disrupts the meeting of needs. The food can still flow without any flow of money.

    This is not a literal suggestion, it’s a mental exercize: Imagine life without money and finance. The fact is, nothing *need* change. Rethink businesses as Commons. It’s that simple. So, the only limiting factors for a transition to simplicity are water capture and storage and food. Water systems can very easily be set up in a fraction of 5 years. Depleted soils, as you well know, depending on the soils, will need 3 to 5 years. So, the only natural limit to simplicity is soil building. So, a regenerative world is no more than 5 years away once we simply choose it.

    You said, “A variant could be, as I tried to make happen, shifting Ecosystem Restoration Camps to Ecosystem Restoration Communities. The logic for doing so is air tight, but I make a poor salesman these days.”
    ->It’s a great idea.

    Yup! It’s actually just melding my own concept from some years back, regenerative community incubators – to ERC’s. I was part of ERC’s at the beginning and stepped away when John broke his pledge of egalitarian decision-making and they started repeating the same top-down crap that got us here. And, I could not get more than a couple to engage in a discussion of communities vs camps.

    Make it profitable and it will be far easier to sell.

    We are trying to save the world, change it, not aid and abet the suicidal track we’re on. New paradigm or bust.

    You said, “Climate is a resource abuse/over-consumption problem”.
    ->I actually like the re-framing of AGW in such a way as to view it as a symptom of a larger problem. I agree 100% in so much as this is exactly what I had to do in order to really get a firm grasp on potential solutions. Once you start viewing it as a symptom, that frees your mind to consider options others would overlook. Clearly this is a major factor in your plans for a long term solution. Maybe also another reason for such pushback you seem to be getting. Not everyone thinks about global warming like we do.

    No, they don’t.

    You said, “With what magic dust?”
    ->The same “magic dust” they used to get where they are in the first place. …Remember just as major corporations have the ability to lock down costs through vertical integration down the supply chain, so too the bottom has the ability, through vertical stacking, to add multiple lines of value added to any grass roots business or organization. With the distinct advantage of being much more flexible and populous. And in any sort of representative democratic system, more populous has great advantages.

    This is all just jargon. And economics. As jef said, you have not stepped out of that paradigm and are trying to, like pretty much, everyone else, negotiate with Nature, and she’s not interested. Let the economics and finance fantasy go. You cannot get a market-based, capitalistic, massively unequal socio-politico-economic system to simplify. Degrowth kills market capitalism when it approaches -20% (depression), so at 80 to 90% it simply will not be viable. Given it is unfair, abusive, ecocidal, etc., good riddance.

    You said, “The changes I seek require no business plan.”
    ->exactly

    Don’t be snarky. It’s in a good sense. Commons don’t need business plans bc there’s no money, no finance. Planning, yes, but business plans? No. Caveat: Bridging from here to there will require a bit of dexterity.

    You said, “Forced? Where did that come from?”
    ->Listen to your own pitch some time. Words like “extinction event” and the “only solution is”. This is forced.

    Only if you redefine the word. An observation is not a demand. It’s not about forcing anything or anyone, it’s about awareness and choice, as Diamond suggested: We choose to simplify or collapse. Framing this as forcing anything is not acceptable.

    You are not offering a choice.

    I’m not offering anything but a reality salad. Eat or don’t. Completely up to you. You are essentially saying I should be lying my ass off to not upset people, and that’s maladaptive, imo.

    Not much different than a burglar with a gun to someones head saying, “do this or else”.

    Completely incorrect analogy. It’s being caught in a flood and being urged to go to the roof above the predicted high water mark vs staying on the ground floor and drowning needlessly.

    that is exactly how your words sound to people who don’t fully understand yet what you are discussing.Yet another reason for pushback. It’s human nature and must be considered as a key part of the complexity.

    I’m the analyst, inventor, not the messenger. Don’t ask me to do a job I neither want nor excel at. Let those with golden tongues lead the masses to enlightenment once they have attained it themselves.

    You said, “Then you aren’t talking about a permaculture design.”
    I was talking about including this in your design. I am fairly sure yours is actually a permaculture design. It was only a mention as to how you might make your design stronger short term. Because if you can’t sell it short term, you have no chances at all of selling it long term.

    I have nothing to sell. Let those who can hear, hear. Let those who can see, see. Let those who can prostheletyze, prostheletyze.

    Cheers

  42. 92
    Killian says:

    Re #50 nigelj said “Inherent in that statement is that you know where the tipping points are and when they will be triggered. You do not. Is it worth risking extinction to make the transition more comfortable?”

    We do actually have a reasonable idea about tipping points and when tipping points will be triggered. There may be hidden tipping points but the research looks to have identified all the big ones that are plausible.

    That you even use the word “plausible” to describe a tipping point shows you do not understand them. That you then take

    We examine the evidence that such a threshold might exist and where it might be. If the threshold is crossed,

    to mean

    We do actually have a reasonable idea about tipping points and when tipping points will be triggered.

    just reinforces how poorly you understand the concept of tipping points. There were virtually no declarative statements about any tipping point in the entire thing. They pointed to 2C, but that’s already out of date and likely too high a number to get significant changes rolling.

    I repeat: Nobody knows. Ask anyone you want to pin down exactly what temperature gets us what changes and you will get exactly zero responses that are worth a damn.

    These are educated guesses, not predictions, and they could be very far off.

    Shush.

  43. 93
    Killian says:

    Re #51 zebra said #44 jef, #45 Mark BLR,

    Although your points are not related directly, they both contain a fatal flaw; they don’t address the vital question: How do you get from here to there?

    Neither was flawed bc neither attempted to answer that question. Straw Man.

    In my #47 response to MAR, I said “looking at geopolitical and economic realities…”.

    That’s your problem: You cannot look past what is. Your flaw, not ours. You don’t get to simplicity by doing what has been done, you get there by doing things very, very differently.

    So, whether it is “making do with less” or “fusion fixes everything”, I don’t see why those choices would be made.

    You don’t understand having no choice?

    And jef, we see all these projections of massive unemployment with the advances of automation and AI. If we all also stop buying stuff, then what?

    Tell me, how is anything bought without jobs? Also, why must stuff be bought? What law of nature requires individual ownership? Surely you’re aware over the grand sweep of human existence, no thought to be in the neighborhood of 300,000 years, indiviudal ownership is the new thing, not Commons. So, why should we be buying anything?

    What happens in China? What happens in the US? What will people do to survive in this “simplified” new world?

    What, people can’t grow food, make clothes, etc?

    Anyone can think up grandiose scenarios

    Don’t use terms you don’t understand. Grandiose is the opposite of simplicity.

    but the forces at work creating the problem are not going away through wishful thinking.

    Where is the wishful thinking? If you are against or at least doubtful of simplicity, then it is you engaging in wishful thinking, because you are then saying either 1. collapse and extinction are coming or 2. we can keep some form of capitalism going on a finite planet.

    See my responses up-thread for more.

  44. 94
    Tony Weddle says:

    Michael Sweet, that is a point I tried to make to Peters but didn’t get anywhere. From 3C to 2C might seem a little less scary than going from a higher temperature projection but the commentary didn’t appear to say anything about what current policies mean for the ultimate high temperature. If current policies would lead to 4C (or whatever the actual estimated figure is), the change needed to limit it to 2C is still scary.

    The Paris Agreement itself doesn’t mention that the target limit is only for 2100 (though, disgracefully, the UNFCC mischaracterises the agreed limit as applying only to this century). It also talks about “well below” 2C, not 2C. “Well below,” to me, implies at worst 1.8C, so that makes the needed change even scarier.

    I don’t think there is any reason to doubt that the change in behaviour needed to effect the change needed to meet the Paris Agreement is unprecedented and certainly very scary. However, it is a change that must be done unless we wait for nature to force us down an even scarier path.

  45. 95
    Al Bundy says:

    nigelj: The world would not progress without liberals, but it would not function without conservatives.

    AB: you got that right. I’m grand virtually and to a certain extent prototypey, but production and just plain living? Fugetaboutit.

    And your faith in that 5C guestimate is cute.

  46. 96
    nigelj says:

    Killian @88,

    I never said coal is the only source of carbon. It was simply the key example. There’s evidence light to medium crude oil has already peaked, so its incredibly unlikely there is enough to take us to RCP 8.5. Gas reserves are also time limited, not sure of its tipping point, but gas fired electricity generation is relatively expensive and is competing with cheaper wind power.

    You have posted comments yourself on the problem of scarcity of resources and suggested several including oil could run out this century. So frankly your own position on resources suggests RCP 8.5 is not tenable. ROFL.

    —————————–

    Killian @92

    “These (tipping points) are educated guesses, not predictions, and they could be very far off.”

    Totally disagree. The research paper is detailed, and discussed these tipping points and considered other research papers on these potential tipping points. This is a long way from just an educated guess. Reasonable idea is nearer the truth.

    However none of this suggests we can relax. It just means we are not totally going to be overwhelmed and so reducing emissions even just moderate amounts will help a lot, as per commentary on the issue. You seem to have taken a completely different message from things.

  47. 97
    nigelj says:

    Kevin McKinney @87, luv ya too, but you are doing a bit of handwaving on some of this at least. Tipping points on sea level rise are not significantly relevant to CO2 levels, and the effects of arctic amplification will cause permafrost to warm, but this is included in modelling already from what I’ve read, and does not determine the temperature at which the permafrost tips.

    I do agree rainforest tipping points look worrying. The thing is theres a lot of discussion among the experts that RCP 8.5 has probably been cancelled and these people are not idiots, they would have looked at possible tipping points and implications for CO2.

    It might be a question of timing. RCP 8.5 is an end of century number. Tipping points at around 3 degrees might increase CO2 above RCP 8.5 levels eventually, over many centuries.

    None of it makes things good. But the article and related discussion makes a good point that if people feel we are doomed anyway they wont be motivated to make changes. If RCP 8.5 is now less probable, this does provide some hope that we can still make a difference. This seems lost on some people who have jumped to the conclusion that saying RCP 8.5 is less probable downplays the dangers. I don’t get that message from it.

    Like Gavin said “The bigger questions are certainly worth discussing, but if the upshot of the current focus is that we just stop using the term ‘business-as-usual’ (as was suggested in the last IPCC report), then that is fine with me, but just not very substantive.”

  48. 98
    nigelj says:

    Killian @91, regarding Scott Strough, simplification, the way you think climate change could or will cause complete human extinction, (no citations needed of course) and simplification solutions that can be achieved in 5 years or 10 years without huge problems, and how all most people need is food and water, and how you have complexity “fairly locked down” and how your experiment in egalitarianism got into trouble when they started reverting to a hierarchy.”

    Don’t worry, I assure you I have no intention of replying. Your comments speak for themselves perfectly well.

  49. 99
    nigelj says:

    Killian @91. Sorry I got distracted and rushed things, didn’t complete what I wanted to say, namely he claimed all most people need is food, water and stable body temperature. Would be interested if people agree.

  50. 100
    Sou says:

    Glen Peters and Zeke Hausfather both do a lot of good work. In this case I can’t help but think they’re suffering from what Lewandowsky has called the seepage effect (or similar). The Nature comment seems to be based on strawmen and I think it could well cause some people to say -“only 3C by 2100? No rush then.” (That is, deniers and delayers and people who don’t know even their Nature comment shows we may well end up higher than 3C by 2100. We could also end up with 4C or more by then or shortly after.)

    We’ve been warned for about a decade or more that we could get to 4C in the next 100 years or so. In any case, it won’t stop at 3C or 4C or 5C unless we take strong action and the sooner the better.

    Right now temperatures are not much over 1C from pre-industrial and the impact is horrendous and not just here in Australia where the effects so far this century have been major drought, massive fires, enormous widespread floods, more major drought (with dust storms), followed by even more massive fires (and smoked out cities), and then very destructive downpours (and hail and flash floods). Things started getting bad before we got to 1C above pre-industrial. In other parts of the world there are already killer heat waves, massive floods, drought, insect plagues, destroyed reefs and fisheries, not to mention other ecosystems on land and in the oceans, and more – all happening more seriously and more often.

    Our food supply is going to be hard-pressed to meet the demands of the world going forward as well.

    Let’s get real. What we’ve seen so far is awful, but it’s nothing compared to what’s to come over the next few years and decades. We’ve just got to take action more seriously and more urgently.

    A paper that relies on a few mentions of BAU in the literature rather than emphasise the majority of work that regards RCP8.5 as a high end scenario (not the highest possible scenario) is to my way of thinking not a very good idea right now. Certainly not while governments in Australia and the USA are not taking action at all and going backwards, saying they are planning to build more coal-fired power plants, protect the coal industry and worse.

    I don’t care for words like “doomer” and “alarmist”, in my view we’ve got to face things head on and press for stronger action, not frame things as “we’re not doing so badly”. If “mid-range” or “average likelihood” scenarios are the only ones considered and it causes more delay, we could not only not be prepared for what’s to come, we could end up committing ourselves to “high end” scenarios.

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