Tips Links and Tidbits Newsletter

Tuesday 14th November 2006


Basic Computer User

Make a Bootable USB Key
What do you do when your computer won’t boot, your most recent backup is three months old, and you don’t have an emergency CD? What if you’re using a laptop that doesn’t even have a CD drive? Kiss your data goodbye—or read this tip for another answer. More

Microsoft during the next 12 to 18 months plans a barrage of product announcements unequaled during any period in the company’s history, a Microsoft official said on Monday evening. More

What Not to Buy in 2006
Great news! This year there are more ways than ever to screw up your holiday purchases. Lance Ulanoff tells you what to look for and what to avoid this year in today’s tip. More

Update: Microsoft Vista Goes Gold
Microsoft has released its Windows Vista operating system to manufacturing, the company has announced. More

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Advanced Computer User

VMware’s Greene: Virtual appliances will end reign of the OS
Widespread adoption of virtualisation software is ushering in a new era of the virtual appliance and rapidly relegating the operating system to second-class status, VMware president and co-founder Diane Greene said on Tuesday at the company’s VMworld event. More

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Brain & Eye Cancer From Cell Phones

Dr. George Carlo has described the marketing strategies aimed at children as “grotesque,” and says it’s a perfect example of the industry’s institutional arrogance.

He should know because he used to work for the cell phone industry, but now is its most outspoken critic.

In a widely distributed interview for a New Zealand news show in May, Carlo said there are currently 30,000 to 50,000 new cases of brain and eye cancer attributable to cell phone use being diagnosed every year. Based on current epidemiological studies, that number will reach half a million cases by 2010.

“We have never had this kind of impending risk to society,” he said during the interview (attempts to reach Dr. Carlo for this story were unsuccessful, but you can see the interview at: Here

From 1993 until 2000, Carlo was the handpicked chief scientist in an industry-funded research program, an initiative announced one week after a Florida man appeared on “Larry King Live” to explain why he had filed suit against the cell phone industry for the brain tumor that killed his wife.

In 2001 Carlo chronicled his seven frustrating years running – or trying to run – the $28 million research program in a book called “Cell Phones: Invisible Hazards in the Wireless Age” that he wrote with journalist Martin Schram.

While the industry said upfront it wanted straight scientific results, to Carlo’s disappointment he soon learned that many high-powered people were on hand to put a positive spin on whatever came from the research, even if that meant denying results.

During his time in office, two different research projects found genetic damage in human blood caused by cell phone emissions. Another project found an increased risk of cell phone users suffering from acoustic neuroma, a rare non-cancerous tumor that affects hearing. Another found a breakdown in the blood brain barrier in the brains of rats exposed to radio waves. Four others found evidence of an increased risk of brain tumors among cell phone users. Another found an increased risk of lymphoma with prolonged radio wave exposure.

And the industry sold more phones.

Science, schmience

Since 1973 Dr. Om Gandhi had been quietly publishing the results of his research into the biological effects of electromagnetic energy. He was particularly interested in the absorption rate in human tissue, which is quaintly known as coupling.

“Nobody bothered me,” said the much-honored professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

That all changed with the October 1996 issue of the journal IEEE Transactions of Microwave Theory and Techniques, which contained a paper called “Electromagnetic Absorption in the Human Head and Neck for Mobile Telephones at 835 and 1900 MHz,” results of a study conducted by Gandhi and two doctoral students, Gianluca Lazzi, now a professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering at the North Carolina state University in Raleigh, and Cynthia Furse, now a colleague of Gandhi’s at Utah.

“I think Om’s assessment is dead on,” Furse said. “It was quite an eye-opener as a grad student/post doc to be sort of ‘dropped’ into the politics of the situation when we were just doing interesting science. There is still an active debate internationally about the interpretation of the analysis included in that paper on cell phones and children.”

Furse currently works on finding faults in aging aircraft wiring.

“The truly professional way in which Om balanced the research and debates has provided a very valuable basis for me to manage similar challenges in this line of research,” she said.

That 1996 study showed an alarming rate of electromagnetic penetration in the form of radio frequency from cell phones coupling with the brains of children, compared to the already disturbing amount of radiation entering an adult’s brain while using a cell (see accompanying graphic).

“Nobody bothered me all these years until I stumbled onto this,” Gandhi said. “I didn’t know at the time industry was targeting children as the next growth segment. Boy, they really got after me.”

The cell phone industry got after one of the pioneers in the research of electromagnetic fields because he found that the thinner outer ears and skulls of children allow more energy from the cell phone antenna to couple with brain tissue. The industry got him by trying to discredit his work through studies disputing his findings.

“The reason industry doesn’t like it. They don’t want to lose this part of the market. They don’t want to cast doubts,” he said. “They started to publish that ‘he cannot be right because we don’t find that.’ We have published three or four more papers since then, which more or less showed the same thing, but it is the original publication they continue to attack.”

Does anyone else smell tobacco smoke, as in the tobacco industry denying and obfuscating the fact that cigarettes are harmful to the human body?

“One of the papers shows how every millimeter closer (the cell phone is) to the body, increases the coupling to the body,” Gandhi said. “And here we are with a child’s much thinner earlobe and much thinner skull. Every millimeter changes the energy couple to the tissue by 7 to 12 percent.”

Now, what it means for greater coupling in children, or for anyone, for that matter, remains a matter of whose study you choose to believe. U.S. industry studies continue to show no harmful effects from cell phone radiation, whereas European studies, as some pre-industry crackdown studies from the 1990s that were actually funded by the industry, have found everything from nervousness and headaches to brain tumors and even genetic damage as a result of cell phone radiation.

Great Britain has for several years been cautioning against cell phone use by children.

“Unfortunately, there has been very little research on long-term effects of cell phones and radiation,” Gandhi said. “These days, because of the insistence of the European Union, it’s funding all the research in Europe. There is no research being done in the United States at the present time, even though we started this field back in the early 1970s. All of that research has been stopped because of industry.”

Which is a shame, because it appears to be in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, which requires federal agencies to evaluate the effects of their actions on the human environment, and that includes the Federal Communication Commission, which regulates the transmitters and facilities that expose humans to RF energy.

“I am a professor. I have no axe to grind,” Gandhi said, still seemingly baffled by the reception of that paper 10 years ago. “I’ve written over 200 papers. They never objected to anything, but they didn’t like this one. They went out and hired other scientists that they funded to say my research was not correct.”

Despite the spin the cell phone industry tried to put on Gandhi’s work, he soldiers on in the interest of science, humanity and truth.

Has latest paper appeared in the July issue of IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques, and is titled “Thermal Implications of the New Relaxed IEEE RF Safety Standard for Head Exposures to Cellular Telephones at 835 and 1900 MHz.”

It looks at the relaxed RF exposure standards set by the professional advisory group, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, compared to earlier standards Gandhi helped establish and standards followed by the European Union as established by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection.

“These days in the committee (that sets the standards), one co-chair is from Motorola (C.K. Chou) and the other is from the Navy, the military-industrial establishment (Dr. John D’Andrea), and they are suddenly loosening their standards. I compared the three standards to show the new standards are out of line. Too loose.”

Preview video documentary on what cell phones ARE doing to your brain. Last Outpost Posted 2006 Nov 4

The omega-3 oils of fatty fish are once again being shown to offer near-miraculous disease prevention properties. The latest research shows frequent consumption of fatty fish to slash prostate cancer risk by 43 percent: More

Startling scientific discoveries demolish nutritional myths...
This is a must read! More

Green Tea: A Better Pick-Me-Up

By Al Sears, MD

In Message #1851, I told you about some of the remarkable properties of green tea. And I mentioned that in Japan, where green tea is enjoyed every day, people have the longest lifespans of any country. Well, I convinced myself. So I switched from my usual morning coffee to a cup of strongly brewed green tea.

I’ve noticed a surprising benefit. The tea wakes me out of my morning stupor like coffee - but unlike coffee, instead of making me feel a little nervous and shaky, the green tea makes me feel calm.

So I did some research. How can a caffeinated drink make you feel calm?

Here’s the secret: It’s an amino acid called l-theanine. Found in tea leaves, l-theanine reverses the stimulating effects of caffeine on certain aspects of your nervous system.

L-theanine doesn’t make theta waves, the kind that put you to sleep. Instead, this nutrient works in your brain by making alpha waves. This creates a feeling of deep relaxation and mental alertness similar to meditation. Other benefits include improved memory and learning ability. (And here’s good news if you don’t like green tea: You can get the benefit of l-theanine in a supplement.)

In one study, researchers saw alpha waves appear within 40 minutes of people taking 50 mg of l-theanine. Another study found that a dose of 200 mg of l-theanine produced more alpha waves than the 50 mg dose. This time, the effect occurred in only 30 minutes and lasted for eight to 10 hours.

Start at 50 mg and work up to 200 mg if needed. Don’t take more than 600 mg in a six-hour period.

[Ed. Note: Dr. Sears, a practicing physician and the author of The Doctor’s Heart Cure and 12 Secrets to Virility, is a leading authority on longevity, physical fitness, and heart health.]

Boiling water in Microwave

This was sent to me, comments below;
About five days ago, my 26-year-old son decided to have a cup of instant coffee. He took a cup of water and put it in the microwave to heat it up (something that he had done numerous times before). I am not sure how long he set the timer for but he told me he wanted to bring the water to a boil. When the timer shut the oven off, he removed the cup from the oven. As he looked into the cup he noted that the water was not boiling. Then instantly the water in the cup “blew up” into his face. The cup remained intact until he threw it out of his hand but all the water had flown out into his face due to the build up of energy. His whole face is blistered and he has 1st and 2nd degree burns to his face, which may leave scarring. He may also have lost partial sight in his left eye. While at the hospital, the doctor who was tending to him stated that this is a fairly common occurrence and water (alone) should never be heated in a microwave oven. If water is heated in this manner, something such as a wooden stir stick or a tea bag should be placed in the cup to diffuse the energy. Here is what our science teacher has to say on the matter: “Thanks for the microwave warning. I have seen this happen before. It is caused by a phenomenon known as super heating. It can occur any time water is heated and will particularly occur if the vessel that the water is heated in is new. What happens is that the water heats faster than the vapour bubbles can form. If the cup is very new then it is unlikely to have small surface scratches inside it that provide a place for the bubbles to form. As the bubbles cannot form and release some of the heat that has built up, the liquid does not boil, and the liquid continues to heat up well past its boiling point. What then usually happens is that the liquid is bumped or jarred, which is just enough of a shock to cause the bubbles to rapidly form and expel the hot liquid. The rapid formation of bubbles is also why a carbonated beverage spews when opened after having been shaken.

Adding sugar or coffee causes some severe reaction as well. (Same principle)

Further data can be obtained from here

Soil depletion is leading to foods with alarmingly high levels of carcinogens. In today’s feature article, you’ll learn how sulfur deficiency in the soil causes grains (and their carbohydrates) to form massive quantities of cancer-causing acrylamides when cooked. More

And today is the 14th November - World Diabetes Day!

Diabetes is a HUGE problem in Australia and around the world and the biggest worry is that SO many people don’t know they’ve got it.

Anyway, I wanted to do my bit and spread the word about diabetes, so here are a few fast facts that you NEED to know about the condition:

- Right now, there are over 1.2 million people suffering with diabetes in Australia

- Diabetes is the 6th highest cause of death amongst Australians and kills more people than aids and breast cancer

- Diabetes is currently the fastest growing chronic disease in the country

- You can minimise your risk of developing Type II diabetes by exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy diet

Now, because today is all about celebrating the lives of people with diabetes and working towards a cure I wanted to share some GREAT news...

Some friends of mine at The Official Diabetes Blog are running a 24 Hour Diabetes Blogathon today so that YOU can find out ALL about diabetes.

They’ve got FREE audios, recipes and loads of information that they’re updating every hour, on the hour for 24 hours.

In fact, they’ve been at it since midnight this morning!

Make sure you check out The Official Diabetes Blog today More

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Worth Quoting: Warren Buffett on Reputation
"When you get out of bed in the morning and think about what you want to do that day, ask yourself whether you’d like others to read about it on the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper. You’ll probably do things a little differently if you keep that in mind."

(Source: Business 2.0)

Bill Gates In Bid For Four Seasons Hotels
Four Seasons Hotels Inc. said on Monday it had received a management-led buyout offer valued at $3.7 billion from a company owned by Bill Gates’ Cascade Investment. More

Analysis: Bush’s Chernobyl economy; hard times are on the way
A “doom and gloom” projection for the US economy based on current economic data. A worthy read, if only so you can do some risk minimisation planning Here


United States Secretary of Defense William Cohen said, back in April of 1997, that there were terrorists who “... are engaging even in an eco-type of terrorism whereby they can alter the climate, set off earthquakes, volcanoes remotely through the use of electromagnetic waves...”

In my next book I show that the earth and sky have indeed been turned into weapons! I am Jerry E. Smith the author of “WEATHER WARFARE: The Military’s Plan to Draft Mother Nature” and “HAARP: The Ultimate Weapon of the Conspiracy.” In these books I lay bare the grim facts behind the pursuit of technologies that would allow terrorists, military strategists and “mad scientists” to intentionally wreck the environment -- and the national and transnational factions that use them.

WEATHER WARFARE is at the printer now and should be in Barnes & Noble, Borders, and other fine bookstores across the country by the middle of December 2006. It is a follow-up on my 1998 book about the High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP).

WEATHER WARFARE covers the history of weather modification from the Rain Makers of the 1890s through the development of cloud seeding in the middle of the twentieth century to today’s seeming ability to steer hurricanes. It also covers the 2004 Christmas Asian tsunami, the development of a “tsunami bomb” during World War II and the possibility of “earthquakes on demand” today.

Addressed at length is the dismal failure of the United Nations treaty prohibiting the hostile (military) use of environmental modification. I believe that the refusal of the mainstream scientific community to believe that terrorists and/or the military are capable of, and currently engaged in intentional manipulation of the environment skews the data in the global warming debate. This is of the gravest importance, as the politics of the 21st century, and possibly our survival as a species, will turn on how this debate plays out.

Also included is an update on recent developments at HAARP, including its possible connection to the crash of the Space Shuttle Columbia. Tackling the chemtrail controversy, this book examines claims that chemicals are being deliberately injected into our atmosphere. Edward Teller, father of the hydrogen bomb, proposed putting up a “sunscreen” to save the earth from global warming -- is someone actually doing it?

Packed with hundreds of quotes from mainstream scientific, military and media sources, the environmental mayhem documented in this 381-page book is founded on a base of solid evidence -- no wild conspiracy theories here, just the terrifying facts!

If you would like Adventures Unlimited Press (AUP) to reserve for you a copy of “WEATHER WARFARE: The Military’s Plan to Draft Mother Nature” [ISBN: 1-931882-60-6], call AUP at 1 (800) 718-4514 or (815) 253-6390, or visit the AUP website at As a special “thank you” all copies ordered now will be autographed by me! Again this book is at the printer now. Order now and your autographed copy will be shipped just as soon as they come in! At just $18.95 WEATHER WARFARE is a 6x9 paperback, it is illustrated, has three appendices, and contains an exhaustive 31-page bibliography with a list of important websites.

Thanks! With your help we can make a difference!

Jerry E. Smith
Author & Lecturer
Vice President for Marketing, Public Relations & Product Development
Adventures Unlimited Press

PO Box 99, Kempton, IL 60946
[office] (815) 253-6390
[sales] 1 (800) 718-4514
[FAX] (815) 253-6300 (HAARP & other writings) (Holy Lance site) (contains my full Press Kit) (my publisher) (our movie project) (more on us)

Author of “WEATHER WARFARE: The Military’s Plan To Draft Mother Nature,” and “HAARP: The Ultimate Weapon of the Conspiracy” and co-author of the “SECRETS OF THE HOLY LANCE: The Spear of Destiny in History & Legend,” all from Adventures Unlimited Press (AUP). Since HAARP’s North American release in 1998 it has been translated into Portuguese, in 2005, by Editora Aleph of São Paulo, Brazil as “ARMAS ELETROMAGNÉTICAS: seria o projeto Haarp a próxima ameaça mundial?” and in 2001 into Polish by Amber Supermedia as “HAARP BRON OSTATECZNA.” “SECRETS OF THE HOLY LANCE” is co-authored with George Piccard, author of “LIQUID CONSPIRACY: JFK, LSD, the CIA, Area 51, and UFOs” (AUP, 1999).”

Chris Anderson: Less Is More
The long tail has quickly become a cocktail-party meme.Definition of meme Now author Chris Anderson talks about some of the theory’s less-obvious implications. More

D&B reports doom and gloom
This quarter’s D&B Business Expectations Survey has revealed the worst-ever profit outlook since the surveys commenced back in 1988. The survey records that businesses are pessimistic about sales, predicting that they will have their worst sales with just 4% of those surveyed believing pre-Christmas spending will have a greater positive impact on business than last year’s season.

More than half of business executives are getting ready to raise the cost of goods being sold, yet about four in ten anticipate profit reductions. The generally miserable business outlook extends to employment expectations, with 12% of those surveyed anticipating laying off staff.

James Ward has made a great effort in transcribing his notes from the 22nd Annual Forum and Dinner of the SA Branch of the Australian Institute of Energy held on Thursday 9 November. These notes can be found in the attachment to this email. Once again, I include the text from the attachment in the body of this email in case attachments are not permitted by your email service provider. These notes are preceded by a “Summary of Proceedings” by James in case you do not wish to read the entire and extensive collection of notes.

Regards, Michael Lardelli.


Australian Institute of Energy 22nd Annual Forum & Dinner

Thursday 9th Nov, 2006

Transport Fuels: Future Prices & Supply Security Risks

Summary of proceedings

The conference was attended by about 40-50 people, mostly suits. I was doing my best to look the part in my op-shop suit pants and my only tie. I think I pulled it off okay.

There were seven speakers plus the guest speaker. Of these, only one (guess who? Yep, the ExxonMobil guy) attempted to tell the audience that everything was okay ­ that is, there’ll be plenty of oil (but he did concede that from now on it won’t be cheap). Another speaker (an economist) sidestepped the possibility of energy shocks and showed what would happen if China and India kept on growing at current rates ­ but he provided the caveat that this growth couldn’t occur if there was any sort of energy shock, and he seemed to imply that he didn’t believe his own numbers.

So the rest of the speakers, including the guest speaker (Senator Rachel Siewert) all acknowledged the danger of peak oil, and the words “prudent risk assessment” can be used to summarise their recommendations. The speaker who followed the ExxonMobil guy convincingly argued the case for caution and risk management and this was echoed by other speakers.

Two speakers convincingly argued the case for better city planning, especially promoting “sustainable transport” (walking and cycling) and heavily promoting public transport, especially in the outer suburbs where there is compounding vulnerability due to heavy car-dependence, relatively low household incomes and high levels of household debt.

Nobody in the audience publicly disagreed with the peak oil concept during question time. This may imply that either these energy professionals are largely in agreement with the peak oil theory, or else they were too scared / embarrassed to put up their hand to say they disagreed with it!

Senator Rachel Siewert presented the findings of the Senate Inquiry into Future Oil Supply and Alternative Transport Fuels, and concluded that peak oil is an issue that requires an enormous amount of attention as the risk and implications are huge.


Australian Institute of Energy 22nd Annual Forum & Dinner

Thursday 9th Nov, 2006

Transport Fuels: Future Prices & Supply Security Risks


James Ward

Convenor, ASPO-Australia Young-Professionals Working Group

Energy Insecurity and the Great Convergence
Mark Thirlwell
Program Director of International Economy, Lowy Institute


Thirlwell began by discussing energy insecurity, in that he talked about the recent constraint in oil supply (i.e. supply being unable to rise to meet growing demand as easily as it had in the past, hence the high prices), as well as the shock of Hurricane Katrina and ongoing instability in the Middle East.

He then went on to discuss “the great convergence”. He talked about the divergence between, say, China’s GDP and that of the USA. His analysis suggested that with steady growth in China’s GDP (it has already been steadily growing for the past 20-25 years), it would fairly quickly close the gap (hence the term “convergence”). Ditto for India. He calls it “great convergence” because China and India combined make up about 1/3 of the world’s population.

Thirlwell admitted that the analysis he presented was naïve, in that it assumed no energy shocks or crises in the future. In other words, he was presenting the case of “what if the growth rates continue like they are at present?” without actually believing that they would continue like they are at present. When he admitted this, I couldn’t help but feel the presentation was a little pointless. But he is an economist, after all.

Points of interest

- In 1993, China changed from being a net oil exporter to a net oil importer

- The Communist Party needs economic growth in order to stay in power and keep its country stable (implying that if the growth stops, the people will revolt)

- Energy security involves diversification in supply and bilateral ties (i.e. mutual dependence between an energy exporter and an energy importer)

o There is the potential for China to rub shoulders with the U.S. over who gets the lion’s share of a particular country’s oil supply, however it is also possible that China would accept oil from countries that the U.S. refuses to deal with, meaning US/China conflict may be avoided

- Middle East is thought to have 60% of the world’s remaining oil reserves, so it remains a key place and China must take an interest in Middle East security

- China and India are not currently big consumers of natural gas, but China’s natural gas consumption is growing at 30% p.a. (meaning it will double every 2-3 years)

Q & A

Q: Environmental factors appear to have been overlooked in the analysis - what about China’s very serious environmental problems? Is this eternal growth possible?

A: The environment is a major constraint. The Chinese government is saying a lot about environmental consideration, but we don’t know if it is following up on what it’s saying. Moving towards natural gas and cleaner technologies may play a role here. Re-iterate that the trends shown assume no shocks - this is unlikely. It is more likely that China and India will have crises, therefore this analysis is somewhat naïve.

Q: What about the strong population growth in South America? How does this factor into the world outlook?

A: Brazil is not appearing to turn “potential” into “growth”; Mexico has a similar competitive advantage to China, and is therefore competing against a giant.

World Oil Reserves - Are we running out?
Doug Schwebel
Former Exploration Director, Esso (now ExxonMobil) Australia
(speaking as a private individual but also on behalf of ExxonMobil)


Schwebel began by mentioning that the recent growth in public interest on peak oil is really nothing new - doomsday warnings have been talked about since the early 1900s. His talk was aimed at squashing the rumours of peak oil by suggesting that global oil reserves are sufficient to cope with future growth (to 2030).

He stated that the global economy is linked to cheap energy, therefore irrespective of climate change concerns, we will continue to burn fossil fuels because they are cheap. To his credit, Schwebel admitted that oil is a finite resource and that growth in consumption can therefore not continue forever (although, he didn’t say what that would mean for the global economy). His analysis only stretched out to 2030, in which time he predicts energy use will have grown by 50% and oil will still be a major player. He then suggests there will be a “gentle decline” from 2030. He quoted 3 trillion barrels of oil recoverable out of a total reserve of 6-8 trillion barrels. Just under 1 trillion barrels would be enough to get us to 2030 based on his projected growth.

His presentation included a lot of flashy 3D images showing how technologically advanced the oil industry has become, implying that the 3 trillion barrels figure is very reliable.

He also said that oil reserves have historically been underestimated, implying that there might still be more oil than he has predicted. This could be achieved through advances in recovery technology, and that the 3 trillion barrels figure assumes 35% recovery (he seemed to indicate that it could potentially go higher than this).

In his summary he mentioned (almost in passing) that to achieve the predicted growth in production required to satisfy demand, $200 billion in annual investment would be required (over $2 million per hour for the next 25 years). The only way to facilitate this investment is to continue having high prices.

Points of interest
- Expected growth rates in energy production to 2030:
o Oil 1.4%
o Gas 1.8%
o Coal 1.8%
o Wind & solar 11%
o Other 1.8%
o Total energy growth 1.6%
- Fossil fuels expected to make up ~75% of total energy by 2030
- Wind & solar expected to make up ~1% of total energy by 2030 (despite 11% growth!)
- He expects 40% of vehicles in the U.S. to be hybrids by 2030
- All growth from ~2015 will have to be undertaken by OPEC (i.e. non-OPEC will peak by 2015)

Q & A

Q: With climate change being increasingly recognised as a serious issue, how long will it take to make the necessary changes?

A: The global economy is linked to cheap energy. And for instance, China’s growth in coal power plants is huge. As China is investing so heavily in the infrastructure, it will want to make use of this infrastructure for some time. So it will be hard to change the source of energy and therefore the main issue is how to deal with the emissions.

(I presume he means dealing with the climate change that results from the emissions, not capturing the emissions themselves.)

Q: Peak oil was largely dismissed in this forecast - so why do we need such high prices? Given that commentators like Matthew Simmons have suggested that the Energy Return On Energy Invested (EROEI) is decreasing, notably in Saudi Arabia, then perhaps you are suggesting that there is a large amount of oil left but the cheap oil is running out - i.e. from here on it will all be expensive?

A: Firstly, current oil prices are not simply a product of supply and demand. For instance, when Chevron announced their Gulf of Mexico discovery recently the price dropped, even though the oil from that discovery won’t come online for 10 years.

But, yes, the “low-hanging fruit” has largely been picked and therefore the future is one of high fuel cost.

(I’m not sure how this fits in with his previous statement that the world economy is linked to cheap energy and therefore we can’t afford to bother about climate change!)

Peak Oil - Myth or Risk?
Lloyd Taylor
Chairman, Core Collaborative
Director, Petratherm
Former Chairman and Managing Director, Shell NZ


Taylor presented an objective analysis of the peak oil debate, beginning by highlighting the fact that there is a lot of talk about peak oil (both for and against the theory) and that most of the information currently available is based on assumptions, carries great uncertainty and is generally unreliable. Huge numbers of people have apparently become experts overnight, on both sides of the debate. He went on to examine the theory from a risk assessment perspective.

The first part of the risk assessment looked at the fact that the question of continuing availability of oil is central to all business models. He went on to say that historically, supply capacity has been in abundance and supply could always be increased to cope with growth in demand, without significant price rises. However, with very modest demand growth in the past few years we’ve seen a trebling of price as supply has been unable to increase. This is real experience, so it should form part of the risk assessment.

The North Sea and Mexico have both recently gone into decline, joining the U.S. which peaked in about 1970. With 3 of the world’s biggest producing regions now shown to be in decline, the risk grows.

He went through the historical case of the U.S. peak, the influence of technological advances on post-peak production in the U.S., and the fact that despite huge advances in technology, the timing of the peak could not be delayed - all that could be achieved was to slightly ease the decline, but nothing could be done to stop it.

Taylor finished by looking at the uncertainty in the U.S. Geological Survey’s reserve estimates (which are the ones quoted by ExxonMobil) and concluded that based on the uncertainty alone, there is a 60% chance of global peak before 2015 and that businesses should “ignore this at their own peril”.

Points of interest

- The peak oil phenomenon is documented on the country level and many countries are post-peak

- Based on the various so-called “expert opinions” we can say that the global peak will occur sometime between yesterday and never!

- Of total oil production (84-85 million barrels per day), about 87% of this is “crude oil” plus “condensate”, and the remaining portion is things like heavy oil, natural gas liquids etc.

o Most condensate is locked into long-term constant production contracts and therefore can’t be increased

- U.S. production is declining at about 2.8% and is now only about 1/3 of its peak production rate (around 1970), but it is still a major global producer and in fact was the largest producer in the world until 1997.

- The giant Cantarell field in Mexico is now in decline

- Production increase and demand destruction both occurred in response to high prices in past oil shocks, but it took a 15-fold increase in price to make significant changes (recently we’ve only had about a 3-fold price rise)

- There have been massive technology advances since the 60s, including huge advances in predictive capability, and the uptake of this new technology has been immediate. Still, this did not ameliorate the U.S. peak, it only slowed the decline

- “Enhanced oil recovery” (as espoused by ExxonMobil) only lifts the tail - it doesn’t affect the peak

- The alternatives currently available are not readily or cheaply scalable

- Statistically, there is only a 40% chance that the USGS “mean estimate” of ultimately recoverable reserves will be achieved. Therefore to base future decisions on their mean estimate, you are gambling on worse than even odds!

Q & A

Q: Was there significant investment in U.S. production post-peak?

A: Yes, the rig-count doubled and drilling activity went into overload, due to the very high return (high prices). It still didn’t do any more than slow the rate of decline.

Responding to the Challenge
Eriks Velins
Former VP, Planning and Marketing, BHP Petroleum
Former GM, Corporate Planning & Economics, Shell Australia


Velins started off talking about the nature of the current crisis. It differs from past crises, in that right now the oil crisis is a result of systematic under-investment by industry and lack of government action (presumably he means the government needs to regulate the industry to make sure it invests for the future). A long term agenda needs to be set that includes the development of new engine and fuel technologies.

The responses to the current crisis from the oil industry are basically to keep supply and demand tight - OPEC producers don’t need any more money so it makes more sense to constrain supply rather than invest huge amounts of money and reduce the price. Another theory is that oil producers are anticipating a reduction in demand as cars become more efficient (eg hybrids).

Velins mentioned that OPEC quoted oil reserves have remained constant for some years despite continuing consumption (OPEC has a reserve-based quota system so a country has an incentive to overstate their reserve figures, the true values of which are generally kept a national secret). Also, different countries quote different figures for their oil reserves - some use the 10% confidence figure, others use the 90% one. Australia adds condensate to its oil reserves. So we don’t know how much oil we’re dealing with.

In the U.S., ethanol production diverts corn away from cattle feed, while in Australia ethanol would mostly come from wheat. In both cases, there is a complex problem with various interests. All in all, he said biofuels are of limited potential. He questioned the usefulness of alternatives like tar sands because of the energy required to extract the oil.

Velins mentioned that the timing of peak oil is now irrelevant as all predictions fall within the planning horizon of the majors. China could be in for real trouble as economic growth depends on energy growth. He then raised an interesting question: Why has the IPCC not factored peak oil into greenhouse gas forecasts?

Because of the limited potential for alternatives, oil and gas will remain the dominant transport fuels for some time, but the price will continue to increase. Governments must act now to prepare for a future of high transport fuel costs. We need “a good decade” to prepare, in terms of establishing the necessary skills and labour, and ensuring mobility. A great quote was that “the greatest skills shortage is leadership!”

Velins have a chilling view of the Middle East. Afghanistan was invaded by the U.S. under the motive of fighting terrorism but a “secondary” motive was stabilising a key piece in the Middle East energy puzzle. Ditto for Iraq. Iran is an interesting case because it is a traditional enemy of the Arabs, and is also an enemy of Israel. Iran has a proven missile delivery mechanism for nuclear weapons. If Iran acquires the oil-fields of Iraq, it could become bigger than Saudi Arabia and would be “the new superpower” of the Middle East. What would this mean for consumers?

His final comments related to market failure, which he said CAN happen. Taxation is an effective tool, eg in Europe where diesel was favoured due to fuel taxes and this encouraged more people to buy diesel cars (which are more efficient than petrol ones). Demand management like this is necessary. We need substantial investment in skills, supply security and most of all, education of the public as to the nature of energy supply & cost.

Points of interest

- Because of an upsurge in resource nationalism (eg Venezuela, where Hugo Chavez nationalised the previously private oil industry), oil companies are actually lacking investment opportunities to the point where they are returning capital to shareholders!

- The government response of subsidising LPG and ethanol is not useful because it doesn’t help alleviate demand, forces increased reliance on imports and is therefore bad for fuel security.

- In response to the recent price hike, in Australia there have been declining sales in 4WDs and large vehicles in general - Velins pointed out that the biggest sufferers of the oil crisis could be the vehicle manufacturers.

- There have been large ($billions) cost overruns on high-tech ventures (presumably he means enhanced oil recovery and similar) that have caused a reversion to older, proven technology.

- Australia has a “voluntary” fuel efficiency target of 6.8L/100km for cars, and according to Velins it is currently more like 14L/100km, meaning efficiency needs to more than double in 4 years. In contrast, Japan’s target is 4.9L/100km.

No questions were asked

Australian Transport Fuel Supply Security - South Australia’s Risks and Options
Andy Fischer
MD, Australian Farmers Fuel Pty Ltd (aka SAFF)


Like most of his talks that I’ve heard, Fischer began by saying that he believes “farmers are the future oil barons of Australia”. However, the remainder of his talk did not relate to this at all.

Fisher spoke mostly about his difficulties as an independent fuel supplier competing in the SA market, which has traditionally been regulated to favour the majors (especially ExxonMobil). In 1995 SA’s fuel market was deregulated and independents were allowed in. Fisher talked a lot about the Port Stanvac import facility, which has 500,000 tonnes of storage but was mothballed in 2003. Since then, there has been an increased risk of fuel shortages due to the tiny amount of storage available outside Port Stanvac. Petrol stations have actually run out of fuel on occasion. There are import facilities (like Port Stanvac) in every other state.

Also, without a large storage facility, one cannot take advantage of an economy-of-scale with shipping (larger deliveries are cheaper, but they require large storage). Fisher’s company is planning a new site in SA that will be for large-scale diesel storage and biodiesel manufacturing.

Q & A

Q: What is the consumer acceptance of ethanol in your ethanol-blended petrol?

A: SAFF has deliberately steered clear of the word “ethanol” due to negative press (hence the term “bio-unleaded petrol”). They have also found that with the proprietary additive they put in (as well as the ethanol), it outperforms equivalent unleaded from other suppliers. They have increased their market share since offering bio-unleaded.

Q: How are engine manufacturers responding to biofuels?

A: The market has not been interested enough to invest in the concept - they liked the idea but didn’t trust it in their engines. SAFF’s solution has been to offer a biodiesel blend called B20 that actually varies from 8% to 23% biodiesel (the rest diesel) that meets the full standard for fuel diesel. As a side-note, Fischer said, every engine manufacturer has received funding from an oil major.

Suburban Shocks: Urban location, housing debt and oil vulnerability in Australian cities
Jago Dodson
Griffith University

(Somehow Dodson managed to appear on “Today Tonight” at the exact same time as he was delivering his talk to us!)


Unlike the other speakers, Dodson comes from a social science background. His interest has been looking at how the use of energy corresponds to the function of cities. The nature of transport use changes across cities - different people use different transport and therefore there is a range of risks (eg bicycles are not at risk to oil shortages). Different people have different financial circumstances such as mortgages, credit card debt and so on. Dodson has investigated the combination of transport (energy) risk and debt risk.

Car dependence is a big problem in Australian cities; like Americans, Australians tend to be highly dependent on cars. However, the degree to which we depend on cars depends on location - the outer suburbs tend to be more car-dependent. Sydney has the best data on travel behaviour, and it shows that the affluent inner-city and east-city dwellers use cars less (and car use is still decreasing), while residents from the west and outer suburbs, who are generally less well-off financially, use their cars more (and car use is increasing). One reason for this is that there is a “legacy of collective investment” in good public transport in the east, but not in the west - therefore public transport is more efficient and convenient (and hence more desirable) in the east than in the west. Also, because people living close to the city are more often within walking or cycling distance of their workplace, they have more choices open to them than people in the outer suburbs.

Household debt has tripled in the past decade and is increasing. This needs to be dealt with! The boom in debt has been largely due to strong economic growth and low interest rates, and has been coupled to increasing house sizes. Like transport, debt is not distributed evenly across cities. People with less money tend to find themselves limited to buying property in outer suburbs. They tend to have a high amount of debt due to their lower income, so greater financial difficulty tends to be found in the outer suburbs.

This leads to a double vulnerability in the outer suburbs - high car-dependence (meaning high vulnerability to fuel prices) coupled with high debt risk. Already we are seeing rising levels of mortgagee default and decreasing house sale prices. Yet, despite the widespread knowledge of Australia’s love of the automobile and the great Australian dream of owning one’s own home, there have been no studies of this kind in the past!

Dodson’s research (with Neil Sipe) has involved vulnerability assessment right down to the level of a census collector’s district (which can be smaller than a single suburb). By combining the dependence on transport fuel with household financial risk, they can map the overall vulnerability of each of these districts. They show a common pattern, with the highest vulnerability in the outer suburbs. The map of Adelaide was being shown publicly for the first time. Like the maps of other cities, vulnerability is highest in the outer suburbs.

In terms of solutions, tax cuts and mortgage relief are not location-specific (i.e. a tax cut would affect people across the whole city) and Dodson suggested such solutions were not good. Instead, spatially targeted public transport investment would be a far better solution. Also, there is a need for investment in further research to look at household budgeting and the relative cost of fuel in household budgets. Above all, the government needs to articulate this issue to the public: how would our cities fare in a constrained energy situation? The debate is essential if we are to continue to live easily in cities.

Points of interest

- Energy growth drives economic growth, which leads to high vulnerability (i.e. your economy is as vulnerable as your energy source).

- In Brisbane, due to difficulty in selling property in outer suburbs, there has been at least one “house, land & fuel package” where the buyer received a $10K voucher for fuel!

- People have been driving less in response to recent high fuel prices.

- The interest rate rises are largely predictable by people observing the condition of the economy, however energy security is much less predictable (hurricanes, wars, terrorist attacks, etc).

- Although the general trend is that the most vulnerable suburbs are the outer ones, there are some patchy areas where a good public transport route might reduce the vulnerability of one suburb but the neighbouring suburb is not well serviced. I was interested to note that in some cases, there are visible thin lines of “security” stretching way out into the outer suburbs, which correspond to train lines!

- Although transport energy use is greater in the outer suburbs, the inner suburbs consume more energy overall. Therefore, if a greenhouse strategy was to come into action, the inner suburbs perhaps should be targeted harder than the outer ones.

Q & A

Q: Should we be moving away from the quarter-acre block and increase the density of housing?

A: This debate has been taking place for 20+ years. The fact is that new stock is a very small percentage of the total housing market, therefore consolidating (so that all new housing is high density) will not have a very large effect on the whole of the market. A better solution is to simply improve public transport to outer suburbs!

Q: Authors such as James Howard Kunstler have basically predicted that suburbia will die (due to peak oil). Should we therefore stop encouraging “mega-cities” and start encouraging tighter, smaller cities?

A: The city size is somewhat market-limited, as indicated by the exodus from Sydney in response to living costs. But, for relatively low investment, we can encourage bus transport. Currently, really sustainable transport (walking and cycling) receives virtually no funding. The recommendation is for much greater government investment in public transport and walking/cycling opportunities.

Oil Prices and Technological Change
Dan Atkins
Sustainable Business Practices Pty Ltd


Atkins began by showing the graph made famous by Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth, showing historical CO2 levels never going above 300ppm and today’s at 380ppm. He then mentioned the recent Stern Report, and the acknowledgement by Rupert Murdoch that climate change needs action now. However, much of the debate has focused on stationary energy, as evident by the focus on clean coal and nuclear power, whereas nearly a sixth (14.5%) of CO2 emissions in Australia come from burning transport fuels. He then went on to look at peak oil - considering climate change and peak oil, we need to alter our behaviour somewhat!

In Australia, we have a love of large vehicles. Indeed, many people believe they “need” a V8! We are beginning to see a shift towards smaller vehicles due to recent high prices, however there is only one manufacturer in Australia who makes a 4 cylinder car. Therefore, as we shift towards more efficient cars, we will be moving towards more and more imports from Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and especially China (he said something like “watch this space” with regard to China). The small-car producers are also investing in research and technology for hybrids and can therefore be expected to continue to increase their market share over the 6- and 8-cylinder Australian cars as people are compelled to buy more efficient vehicles.

In terms of fuel options for vehicles, there is a range of options. One such option is hydrogen, which has generally been considered the “holy grail”, with zero emissions and so on. Hydrogen faces numerous challenges. Energy is required to separate hydrogen and oxygen out of water, then storage and distribution infrastructure (including fuelling stations) all needs to be engineered and built. Iceland is beginning its transition to a hydrogen economy.

Other fuels more immediately within reach include LPG (lower CO2 emissions) and diesel (15-25% better fuel efficiency). Biofuels can potentially reduce overall CO2 emissions but should be limited to recycling waste products (not growing plants especially for fuel). Atkins said there needs to be more debate about biofuels.

Toyota has publicly stated that unless the automotive industry looks at environmental issues, it has no future. Atkins said that Toyota’s move towards hybrid technology was not motivated out of altruism, but rather out of the perceived increase in demand for environmentally conscious products. Atkins mentioned that the technology in the Toyota Prius, while an environmental breakthrough, also delivered high performance, so the alternatives don’t necessarily have to be unpleasant. Motives for change in industry include the availability and price of raw materials, regulations (eg carbon pricing), random technological breakthroughs, and customer trends. He illustrated the last one by highlighting the boom in organic food demand in response to consumers’ desire to live healthily. Having spent time in Scandinavia, Atkins suggested that there are better ways to design and plan cities than the Australian way (which is dominated by the car). He referred to cities in Scandinavia that are designed with a hierarchy: people first, then bicycles, then public transport, and cars last. Planning like this is a no-regrets strategy as it encourages healthier transport such as walking and cycling.

In his recommendations, Atkins said that the solutions will come not only from better technology, but also from better planning, especially planning that recognises the long-term interconnectedness of waste, energy and transport.

Points of interest

- One interesting concept is that unpredictable renewable technology such as wind and solar energy could be used to generate hydrogen, which can then be stored and used for base-load power generation (which is something that those renewables traditionally cannot provide) and transport fuel.

- “The cleanest energy is the energy you don’t have to use!”

Q & A

Q: With SA’s apparently rich endowment of geothermal energy, can SA become the leader in generating hydrogen from geothermal?

A: Iceland has geothermal energy production but it is located near water.

Lloyd Taylor (Petratherm director, and a previous speaker) then responded to the question: in Australia we would need to either transport the water a long way inland or transmit the electricity a long way to the coast.
Q: John Howard doesn’t seem to think carbon trading is the answer, yet they seem to be doing it in Europe. How do they do it there?

A: Carbon trading adds costs and the detail becomes difficult to comprehend. In terms of setting targets, many businesses simply don’t know what their emissions were in 1990 so it is near impossible to set targets. Australia was a leader in the carbon trading concept, but it has lost intellectual capital to Europe and needs to regain it.

The Senate’s Future Oil Supply and Alternative Transport Fuels Inquiry
Senator Rachel Siewert
Deputy Chair, Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee
Australian Greens


The government has recently amalgamated the Senate Committees. (Siewert was previously the Chair of the committee but is now Deputy Chair.) At the time of the amalgamation, so much work had been done by the committee that they decided to give an interim report. The interim report is basically a summary of opinions, while the final report (due 30/11/2006) will be more a list of recommendations. The inquiry was inspired by Senator Christine Milne, who has a keen interest in climate change and peak oil within the Greens, but the committee included representatives from the ALP, Liberals and Nationals (as well as the Greens).

The committee received an incredible 192 submissions, including many from local government offices, as well as peak oil groups, industry associations and so on. The full list of submissions (and the interim report itself) is available online: Here

Most submissions agreed that peak oil is an issue, but there was widespread disagreement on the date of the peak. The submissions from peak oil “activists” were generally very detailed and thoroughly argued, whereas the submissions from “denialists” were generally weaker in their arguments. The committee concluded that there was insufficient evidence to suggest things will be okay beyond 2030. If peak oil occurs before 2030 it is a matter for concern, therefore Australia must plan for it now, as Sweden is doing.

On the supply side, Geoscience Australia’s submission highlighted the fact that self-sufficiency will decline, and that we appear to be coming to the end of the age of cheap oil. Import dependence makes Australia vulnerable to higher prices. Alternatives to oil include biofuels, unconventional oil and gas-to-liquids. The future will need to have a mix of energies, and it is recognised that whatever the source (even if it is conventional crude), our future fuels will have a higher cost. With this in mind, should we be investing in more exploration or alternatives? It appears that we should be investing in ways to reduce our dependence on fossil oil, but decisions will be made based on business economics.

Biofuels (ethanol and biodiesel) are potentially carbon neutral, however they compete with textile and food production for land. The energy return on energy invested (EROEI) is critical as feedstock crop production requires substantial energy inputs. The WA Farmers submission presented their strategy to roll out biodiesel co-ops in order to become “fuel self-sufficient”.

Palm oil (a feedstock for biodiesel) is also displacing rainforests in Southeast Asia - a cause of great environmental concern. First-generation biofuels (the ones on the market today such as canola-biodiesel and grain-ethanol) are generally not very promising. However, second-generation biofuels (eg lignocellulose ethanol) have significantly more potential. The government’s 350ML biofuel target is modest and should be increased.

There were conflicting opinions on the validity of hydrogen as a future energy, however Siewert said that a submission from a Tasmanian company was very convincing and gave her a sense of hope for the future of hydrogen.

Demand-side strategies were also addressed by the committee. Efficiency and public transport were common themes among submissions, along with better urban planning and increased use of rail for long-distance freight (except the submission from the truck transport lobby, which argued for no rail!). It was recommended that the Commonwealth government make more funds available for public transport, as well as grants for fuel efficiency projects and a re-assessment of the Fringe Benefits Tax to change the use of incentives/disincentives.

Risk management is essential as we look at peak oil. The Hirsch Report (commissioned by the U.S. government) was recommended as it looks at the risks.

Points of Interest

- High petrol prices conveniently generated a lot of interest in the inquiry

- The committee looked at the vulnerability in cities and agriculture. The latter is thought to be highly vulnerable.

- There was a convergence of the twin issues of peak oil and climate change, so it was agreed that any solution to peak oil must consider greenhouse gas emissions.

- Gas is thought to be the most significant “transition fuel” for Australia.

- According to ABARE, some non-conventional petroleum becomes cost-effective at about $40/barrel, however this does not consider the carbon cost

- Mallee trees are being grown in WA for oil and fuel-wood, and have potential for lignocellulose ethanol production (2nd generation biofuel) whilst also offering some biodiversity advantages

- A company called Microbiogen made a submission suggesting that with second-generation biofuel technology, the Australian sugar industry could easily provide 10% of Australia’s fuel needs (I presume they mean using the bagasse waste, not the sugar itself)

- The committee heard from Dr Ali Samsam Bakhtiari, who told them that "air travel is on borrowed time"

- The government’s Energy White Paper is outdated, however the committee will probably not be able to state this in the report!

- Will Australian alternatives be traded globally if the global market price goes up?

Q & A

Q: (Nicholas Mumford, Santos) Is “gas reservation” effective as energy security, or is it just setting ourselves up to be subject to international markets?

A: Security means ensuring domestic supply, so we should be hanging onto our gas rather than flogging it off cheaply.

Q: (Malcolm Messenger, AIE) How did the committee actually get up and running?

A: The Greens recommended it to the government regarding climate change and peak oil, and surprisingly the government accepted! The acceptance of the inquiry was probably largely due to the Nationals’ support for biofuels via the farmer connection. All senators on the committee found it to be a fascinating experience.

Q: (Mr Shearer, Dept of Transport, Energy & Infrastructure) Will globalisation survive peak oil?

A: The committee didn’t study it much, except that air travel appears to be headed for downsizing whilst there may be more sea trade and more localisation. The suspicion is that globalisation will suffer, but this is hard to predict due to the high level of communications technology that is now available (perhaps such services will soften the blow).

Q: (Hamilton Calder, RAA) The general theme is that there is no “silver bullet” and that our future needs will be met by many solutions. What about the role of automotive manufacturers?

A: Auto makers were most disappointing in their response and in their expectations. There will be many solutions, and one of the most exciting is second-generation biofuels and fuels from algae (first generation biofuels may provide a useful transition). Coal-to-liquids is not a great option due to the CO2 so why not step past it and go straight to second-generation biofuels?

Q: (Andy Fischer, SAFF) Can we remove things like the 10% ethanol cap to help stimulate investment in biofuels?

A: The industry wants better fuel standards before it will begin to accept biofuels for use in standard engines.

Q: (Barbara Hardie) Have you compared biosequestration (i.e. planting trees) to geosequestration (locking CO2 underground)?

A: The concern with these “carbon-neutral” technologies is that they are not aimed at creating a significant cut in emissions. These technologies have potential but they are not the full answer. The priority is that we need to get our policy settings right (I presume she means a carbon tax, that will encourage people to burn less fuel, and neutralise whatever they do burn).

Final thoughts

At our dinner table we had an interesting guy from Business SA. He was very agitated, not by the nature of the conference or because of any disagreement with peak oil, but because he is constantly faced with the fact that small innovators are being shut out of the market because nobody is willing to invest. When it comes to investing the money necessary to roll out a good piece of technology, the government generally doesn’t come to the party. For instance, Origin Energy is ready for a roll-out of their new solar technology. That roll-out will cost ~ $100 million. The SA government could apply a 2c/kWh tax on power to raise the revenue and put Origin in business, creating jobs for South Australians, etc etc - but they won’t do it.

I feel that we face a similar challenge with petrol taxes. The best thing we could do would be to increase the fuel excise to provide the funding necessary to roll out more public transport and educate the public to buy more efficient cars (and perhaps some of that money could be made available to get companies like Holden and Mistubishi to start building smaller cars too!).

Who will provide the brave leadership we need?

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