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Hottest ocean temperatures in history recorded last year

Ocean heating driven by human-caused climate crisis, scientists say, in sixth consecutive year record has been broken

An oil platform stands offshore as cargo shipping container ships wait in the Pacific Ocean to enter the port of Los Angeles.
An oil platform stands offshore as cargo shipping container ships wait in the Pacific Ocean to enter the port of Los Angeles. Photograph: Patrick T Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

The world’s oceans have been set to simmer, and the heat is being cranked up. Last year saw the hottest ocean temperatures in recorded history, the sixth consecutive year that this record has been broken, according to new research.

The heating up of our oceans is being primarily driven by the human-caused climate crisis, scientists say, and represents a starkly simple indicator of global heating. While the atmosphere’s temperature is also trending sharply upwards, individual years are less likely to be record-breakers compared with the warming of the oceans.

A firefighter sprays water as a house burns in the Dixie fire in the Indian Falls area of Plumas County, California.
Climate crisis: last seven years the hottest on record, 2021 data shows
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Last year saw a heat record for the top 2,000 meters of all oceans around the world, despite an ongoing La Niña event, a periodic climatic feature that cools waters in the Pacific. The 2021 record tops a stretch of modern record-keeping that goes back to 1955. The second hottest year for oceans was 2020, while the third hottest was 2019.

“The ocean heat content is relentlessly increasing, globally, and this is a primary indicator of human-induced climate change,” said Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado and co-author of the research, published in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences.

Warmer ocean waters are helping supercharge storms, hurricanes and extreme rainfall, the paper states, which is escalating the risks of severe flooding. Heated ocean water expands and eats away at the vast Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, which are collectively shedding around 1tn tons of ice a year, with both of these processes fueling sea level rise.

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Vaclav Smil: ‘Growth must end. Our economist friends don’t seem to realise that’

Vaclav Smil

The scientist and author on his latest book – an epic, multidisciplinary analysis of growth – and why humanity’s endless expansion must stop.

Vaclav Smil is a distinguished professor emeritus in the faculty of environment at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. Over more than 40 years, his books on the environment, population, food and energy have steadily grown in influence. He is now seen as one of the world’s foremost thinkers on development history and a master of statistical analysis. Bill Gates says he waits for new Smil books the way some people wait for the next Star Wars movie. The latest is Growth: From Microorganisms to Megacities.

You are the nerd’s nerd. There is perhaps no other academic who paints pictures with numbers like you. You dug up the astonishing statistic that China has poured more cement every three years since 2003 than the US managed in the entire 20th century. You calculated that in 2000, the dry mass of all the humans in the world was 125m metric tonnes compared with just 10m tonnes for all wild vertebrates. And now you explore patterns of growth, from the healthy development of forests and brains to the unhealthy increase in obesity and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Before we get into those deeper issues, can I ask if you see yourself as a nerd?
Not at all. I’m just an old-fashioned scientist describing the world and the lay of the land as it is. That’s all there is to it. It’s not good enough just to say life is better or the trains are faster. You have to bring in the numbers. This book is an exercise in buttressing what I have to say with numbers so people see these are the facts and they are difficult to dispute.

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Global supply chain crisis could last another two years, warn experts

As some bottlenecks ease others are just starting, meaning the post-pandemic economy ‘won’t return to normal any time soon’

China’s Ningbo Zhoushan port in Zhejiang province
China’s Ningbo Zhoushan port in Zhejiang province, a key shipping hub. A new Covid outbreak in the region has raised fears of further delays in the global shipping system. Photograph: China Stringer Network/Reuters

In Britain it’s alcohol, in Canada it’s maple syrup, while in Australia it’s a crucial additive for diesel trucks, and in New Zealand it’s brown sugar. These are just some of the many shortages affecting consumers and businesses around the world as industry experts warn that the supply chain crisis prompted by the coronavirus pandemic could last for many more months and even up to two years.

Although there are signs that some bottlenecks are easing, the onset of the Omicron Covid variant could lead to new shutdowns, sending another disruptive spasm through the global system.

The gravest appears to be an outbreak of Covid this week in the Chinese manufacturing hub of Zhejiang, which is home to the world’s largest cargo port, Ningbo-Zhoushan. Tens of thousands are in quarantine under China’s strict zero-Covid policy and some local authorities have urged workers not to travel home “unnecessarily” for lunar new year festival in February. “Further supply chain disruption is a significant possibility,” economic analysts at Capital Economics said in a note.

Industry experts and economists believe the problems could persist as the finely calibrated network of world trade, already weakened by months of shipping backlogs, labour shortages and geopolitical tensions, remains “discombobulated”.

Maersk, one of the big three shipping companies, said the worst delays were still on the US west coast where ships were waiting four weeks to unload due to the lack of workers on land.

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Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us

· Secret report warns of rioting and nuclear war
· Britain will be ‘Siberian’ in less than 20 years
· Threat to the world is greater than terrorism

Pentagon outside Washington, DC (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)
Pentagon outside Washington, DC (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters..

secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a ‘Siberian’ climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.

The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents.

‘Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,’ concludes the Pentagon analysis. ‘Once again, warfare would define human life.’

The findings will prove humiliating to the Bush administration, which has repeatedly denied that climate change even exists. Experts said that they will also make unsettling reading for a President who has insisted national defence is a priority.

The report was commissioned by influential Pentagon defence adviser Andrew Marshall, who has held considerable sway on US military thinking over the past three decades. He was the man behind a sweeping recent review aimed at transforming the American military under Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Climate change ‘should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a US national security concern’, say the authors, Peter Schwartz, CIA consultant and former head of planning at Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and Doug Randall of the California-based Global Business Network.

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Zog Energy becomes 25th UK supplier to go bust in three months

Company, which supplied gas to about 11,700 households, is another victim of record market prices

A pan on a domestic hob
Zog Energy was founded in 2012 with a plan to offer households simple, affordable gas tariffs. Photograph: Niklas Halle’n/AFP/Getty Images

Another of the UK’s small energy companies has gone bust, bringing the total number of suppliers that have collapsed in the past three months after a record surge in energy market prices to 25.

Zog Energy, which supplies gas to about 11,700 households, announced on its website that it had ceased to trade and that the energy regulator, Ofgem, would appoint a new supplier to take on its customers.

Ofgem has been forced to find new suppliers for more than 2 million households affected by the collapse of energy suppliers since the start of September. The fate of another 1.7 million Bulb Energy customers is yet to be decided by a special administrator, which was appointed to handle the large-scale collapse.

Note: this table does not include MA Energy (2 November) or CNG Energy (3 November), which supply only non-domestic energy customers

Zog Energy was founded in 2012 with a plan to offer households simple, affordable gas tariffs. It said it was “starting with gas” because this was “normally the highest proportion of domestic customers’ annual fuel bill” but did not go on to offer electricity tariffs.

Bills have rocketed in recent weeks after a global gas supply crunch that has caused the wholesale market price to reach record highs in October, and remain at historic levels as temperatures have plunged.

Neil Lawrence, Ofgem’s retail director, said Zog’s customers “do not need to worry” because the regulator’s safety net process would ensure they have uninterrupted energy until a new supplier is appointed, and their bills would be protected by the energy price cap.

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Beware: Gaia may destroy humans before we destroy the Earth

Covid-19 may well have been one attempt by the Earth to protect itself. Gaia will try harder next time with something even nastier

Viewpoint Ponta do Sossego
‘I am not hopeful of a positive outcome at Cop26, knowing who is participating. I was not invited to Glasgow, though that is hardly a surprise.’ Photograph: Magdalena Bujak/Alamy

I don’t know if it is too late for humanity to avert a climate catastrophe, but I am sure there is no chance if we continue to treat global heating and the destruction of nature as separate problems.

The European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, speaking in Brussels this Thursday

That is the wrongheaded approach of the United Nations, which is about to stage one big global conference for the climate in Glasgow, having just finished a different big global conference for biodiversity in Kunming.

This division is as much of a mistake as the error made by universities when they teach chemistry in a different class from biology and physics. It is impossible to understand these subjects in isolation because they are interconnected. The same is true of living organisms that greatly influence the global environment. The composition of the Earth’s atmosphere and the temperature of the surface is actively maintained and regulated by the biosphere, by life, by what the ancient Greeks used to call Gaia.

Almost 60 years ago, I suggested our planet self-regulated like a living organism. I called this the Gaia theory, and was later joined by biologist Lynn Margulis, who also espoused this idea. Both of us were roundly criticised by scientists in academia. I was an outsider, an independent scientist, and the mainstream view then was the neo-Darwinist one that life adapts to the environment, not that the relationship also works in the other direction, as we argued…

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The case for … making low-tech ‘dumb’ cities instead of ‘smart’ ones

The Ma’dan people in Iraq weave buildings and floating islands from reeds.
The Ma’dan people in Iraq weave buildings and floating islands from reeds. Photograph: Esme Allen/TSPL

High-tech smart cities promise efficiency by monitoring everything from bins to bridges. But what if we ditched the data and embraced ancient technology instead?

Ever since smartphones hooked us with their limitless possibilities and dopamine hits, mayors and city bureaucrats can’t get enough of the notion of smart-washing their cities. It makes them sound dynamic and attractive to business. What’s not to love about whizzkids streamlining your responsibilities for running services, optimising efficiency and keeping citizens safe into a bunch of fun apps?

There’s no concrete definition of a smart city, but high-tech versions promise to use cameras and sensors to monitor everyone and everything, from bins to bridges, and use the resulting data to help the city run smoothly. One high-profile proposal by Google’s sister company, Sidewalk Labs, to give 12 acres of Toronto a smart makeover is facing a massive backlash. In September, an independent report called the plans “frustratingly abstract”; in turn US tech investor Roger McNamee warned Google can’t be trusted with such data, calling the project “surveillance capitalism”.

There are practical considerations, too, as Shoshanna Saxe of the University of Toronto has highlighted. Smart cities, she wrote in the New York Times in July, “will be exceedingly complex to manage, with all sorts of unpredictable vulnerabilities”. Tech products age fast: what happens when the sensors fail? And can cities afford expensive new teams of tech staff, as well as keeping the ground workers they’ll still need? “If smart data identifies a road that needs paving,” she writes, “it still needs people to show up with asphalt and a steamroller.”

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‘Green growth’ doesn’t exist – less of everything is the only way to avert catastrophe

It is simply not possible to carry on at the current level of economic activity without destroying the environment

A dead North Atlantic right whale washed up on a beach in New Brunswick, Canada.
‘Combined impacts are laying waste to entire living systems.’ A dead North Atlantic right whale washed up on a beach in New Brunswick, Canada. Photograph: Nathan Klima/Boston Globe/Getty Images

There is a box labelled “climate”, in which politicians discuss the climate crisis. There is a box named “biodiversity”, in which they discuss the biodiversity crisis. There are other boxes, such as pollution, deforestation, overfishing and soil loss, gathering dust in our planet’s lost property department. But they all contain aspects of one crisis that we have divided up to make it comprehensible. The categories the human brain creates to make sense of its surroundings are not, as Immanuel Kant observed, the “thing-in-itself”. They describe artefacts of our perceptions rather than the world.

Nature recognises no such divisions. As Earth systems are assaulted by everything at once, each source of stress compounds the others.

Take the situation of the North Atlantic right whale, whose population recovered a little when whaling ceased, but is now slumping again: fewer than 95 females of breeding age remain. The immediate reasons for this decline are mostly deaths and injuries caused when whales are hit by ships or tangled in fishing gear. But they’ve become more vulnerable to these impacts because they’ve had to shift along the eastern seaboard of North America into busy waters.

Cutting machines developed for deep-sea mining.
Race to the bottom: the disastrous, blindfolded rush to mine the deep sea
Read more

Their main prey, a small swimming crustacean called Calanus finmarchicus, is moving north at a rate of 8km a year, because the sea is heating

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‘Revolutionary in a quiet way’: the rise of community gardens in the UK

Royal Horticultural Society sets up first Community Awards as community gardens become more common

Lucy Mitchell, a community project worker with the Golden Hill Community Garden, in Horfield, Bristol.
Lucy Mitchell, a community project worker with the Golden Hill community garden, in Horfield, Bristol. Photograph: Adrian Sherratt/The Guardian
“The first melon of the season always tastes amazing,” says Lucy Mitchell. “I don’t think anyone has ever taken one home – every year, we just cut them into as many slices as there are people in the garden and make sure everyone gets a melon moment.”

After almost a decade of being involved with the Golden Hill community garden in Horfield, Bristol, she never gets complacent about the significance of these simple things. “We remember ‘Big Jim’, the biggest sunflower who ever grew here, or the miracle sunflowers that grew in the gravel and we wait for the frogs to return to the pond. These things all layer into our story and we look forward to them.”

Community gardens are becoming ever more common across the UK, and at the end of September, the Royal Horticultural Society will announce the winners of its first Community Awards.

“Where groups like this existed, communities seemed to be more resilient when it came to a crisis [like Covid] because they had a pre-established network of volunteers and people already knew each other so they could easily offer support,” says Kay Clark, who heads up the RHS community gardening programme. “With wellbeing and nature connection becoming top priority during lockdown, we had this massive surge of interest in gardening and the community groups were there to help people learn how to garden, teach skills, share knowledge, plants, tools and all sorts as well as inspire people and cheer them up.”

Gardeners chatting at the Golden Hill community garden in Bristol
Gardeners chatting at the Golden Hill community garden in Bristol Photograph: Adrian Sherratt/Alamy

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New Zealand rated best place to survive global societal collapse

Study citing ‘perilous state’ of industrial civilisation ranks temperate islands top for resilience

Bunker repurposed for a US ‘doomsday’ community
Bunker repurposed for a US ‘doomsday’ community. A study proposes that countries able to grow food for their populations, protect their borders from unwanted mass migration and maintain an electrical grid, are best placed to withstand severe shocks. Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

New Zealand, Iceland, the UK, Tasmania and Ireland are the places best suited to survive a global collapse of society, according to a study.

The researchers said human civilisation was “in a perilous state” due to the highly interconnected and energy-intensive society that had developed and the environmental damage this had caused.

A collapse could arise from shocks, such as a severe financial crisis, the impacts of the climate crisis, destruction of nature, an even worse pandemic than Covid-19 or a combination of these, the scientists said.

To assess which nations would be most resilient to such a collapse, countries were ranked according to their ability to grow food for their population, protect their borders from unwanted mass migration, and maintain an electrical grid and some manufacturing ability. Islands in temperate regions and mostly with low population densities came out on top.

The researchers said their study highlighted the factors that nations must improve to increase resilience. They said that a globalised society that prized economic efficiency damaged resilience, and that spare capacity needed to exist in food and other vital sectors.

Billionaires have been reported to be buying land for bunkers in New Zealand in preparation for an apocalypse. “We weren’t surprised New Zealand was on our list,” said Prof Aled Jones, at the Global Sustainability Institute, at Anglia Ruskin University, in the UK.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Our climate change turning point is right here, right now

People are dying. Aquatic animals are baking in their shells. Fruit is being cooked on the tree. It’s time to act.

In April, California Gov. Gavin Newsom held a news conference in the parched basin of Lake Mendocino, where he announced a drought emergency for Mendocino and Sonoma counties. On July 8, Newsom added nine more counties to the state’s emergency proclamation.
In April, California Gov. Gavin Newsom held a news conference in the parched basin of Lake Mendocino, where he announced a drought emergency for Mendocino and Sonoma counties. On July 8, Newsom added nine more counties to the state’s emergency proclamation. Photograph: Kent Porter/AP

Human beings crave clarity, immediacy, landmark events. We seek turning points, because our minds are good at recognizing the specific – this time, this place, this sudden event, this tangible change. This is why we were never very good, most of us, at comprehending climate change in the first place. The climate was an overarching, underlying condition of our lives and planet, and the change was incremental and intricate and hard to recognize if you weren’t keeping track of this species or that temperature record. Climate catastrophe is a slow shattering of the stable patterns that governed the weather, the seasons, the species and migrations, all the beautifully orchestrated systems of the holocene era we exited when we manufactured the anthropocene through a couple of centuries of increasingly wanton greenhouse gas emissions and forest destruction.

This spring, when I saw the shockingly low water of Lake Powell, I thought that maybe this summer would be a turning point. At least for the engineering that turned the southwest’s Colorado River into a sort of plumbing system for human use, with two huge dams that turned stretches of a mighty river into vast pools of stagnant water dubbed Lake Powell, on the eastern Utah/Arizona border, and Lake Mead, in southernmost Nevada…

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No new oil, gas or coal development if world is to reach net zero by 2050, says world energy body

Governments must close gap between net zero rhetoric and reality, says International Energy Agency head

An oil rig in the North Sea.
The UK is licensing new oil and gas fields in the North Sea. Photograph: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images
Exploitation and development of new oil and gas fields must stop this year and no new coal-fired power stations can be built if the world is to stay within safe limits of global heating and meet the goal of net zero emissions by 2050, the world’s leading energy organisation has said.

In its strongest warning yet on the need to drastically scale back fossil fuels, the International Energy Agency (IEA) also called for no new fossil-fuel cars to be sold beyond 2035, and for global investment in energy to more than double from $2tn (£1.42tn) a year to $5tn (£3.54tn) The result would not be an economic burden, as some have claimed, but a net benefit to the economy.

Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director and one of the world’s foremost energy economists, told the Guardian: “If governments are serious about the climate crisis, there can be no new investments in oil, gas and coal, from now – from this year.”

He said strong new policies were needed from governments around the world: “More and more countries are coming up with net zero commitments, which is very good, but I see a huge and growing gap between the rhetoric [from governments] and the reality.”

The IEA has released its most comprehensive report yet into what is needed to achieve the world’s climate goals, the implications of which will be felt around the world. Few governments intend to halt fossil-fuel exploration. The UK is licensing new oil and gas fields in the North Sea, China is building coal-fired power plants, and oil companies are still investing in new output.

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Guardian Promotes ‘Global Lockdown’ Every Two Years To Combat Climate Change

Guardian Promotes ‘Global Lockdown’ Every Two Years To Combat Climate Change

We told you this was coming next…

The London Guardian has suggested that global lockdowns will be needed every two years in order to save the planet.

The outlet used the (now changed) alarmist headline ‘Global Lockdown Every Two Years Needed To Meet Paris CO2 Goals – Study’.

The piece refers to study published in the Nature journal by a team of researchers at the University of East Anglia, who concluded that CO2 emissions need to drop by the same amount as they have during the recent lockdown period “roughly every two years” in order to offset global warming.

The study did not advocate global lockdowns in order to achieve this, despite the Guardian’s misleading headline. In fact it called for “completely different methods”.

The headline was changed to the slightly less fear mongering ‘Equivalent of Covid emissions drop needed every two years – study’ after a backlash ensued.

After many climate alarmists began touting the environmental virtues of lockdowns last year, we warned that climate lockdowns would become a thing:

The Guardian also has a history of over-hyping alarmist climate warnings, having previously reported that by 2020 we would be seeing  “millions” of deaths, major European cities being sunken, and nuclear war due to planetary warming.

The Newspaper’s alarmist call for lockdowns comes days after the World Economic Forum was slammed for praising the effects lockdowns have had on cities:

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Rating agency S&P warns 13 oil and gas companies they risk downgrades as renewables pick up steam

Firms including Woodside, Chevron, Shell and Exxon Mobil, told they could be downgraded within weeks.

Royal Dutch Shell rig operators in Texas. Oil and gas companies have been told they could be downgraded between one and two notches as S&P increases risk rating for the entire sector.

Royal Dutch Shell rig operators in Texas. Oil and gas companies have been told they could be downgraded between one and two notches as S&P increases risk rating for the entire sector. Photograph: Bloomberg/Getty Images

Rating agency S&P has warned 13 oil and gas companies, including the some of the world’s biggest, that it may downgrade them within weeks because of increasing competition from renewable energy.

 

On notice of a possible downgrade are Australia’s Woodside Petroleum as well as multinationals Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Imperial Oil, Royal Dutch Shell, Shell Energy North America, Canadian Natural Resources, ConocoPhillips and French group Total.

S&P said it was also considering downgrading four large Chinese producers – China Petrochemical Corp, China Petroleum & Chemical Corp, China National Offshore Oil Corp and CNOOC.

The rating agency said it had increased its risk rating for the entire oil and gas sector from “intermediate” to “moderately high” because due to the move away from fossil fuels, poor profitability and volatile prices.

It said it also had a negative outlook for two other big oil and gas companies, British multinational BP and Canadian group Suncor, but did not plan to immediately reassess their credit ratings.

“In particular, we note significant challenges and uncertainties engendered by the energy transition, including market declines due to growth of renewables; pressures on profitability, specifically return on capital, as a result of high dollar capital investment levels over 2005-2015 and lower average oil and gas prices since 2014; and recent and potential oil and gas price volatility,” S&P said on Wednesday.

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Global soils underpin life but future looks ‘bleak’, warns UN report

It takes thousands of years for soils to form, meaning protection is needed urgently, say scientists

Scientists describe soils as like the skin of the living world, vital but thin and fragile, and easily damaged by intensive farming, forest destruction, and pollution.
 Scientists describe soils as like the skin of the living world, vital but thin and fragile, and easily damaged by intensive farming, forest destruction, and pollution. Photograph: Zsolt Czeglédi/EPA

Global soils are the source of all life on land but their future looks “bleak” without action to halt degradation, according to the authors of a UN report.

A quarter of all the animal species on Earth live beneath our feet and provide the nutrients for all food. Soils also store as much carbon as all plants above ground and are therefore critical in tackling the climate emergency. But there also are major gaps in knowledge, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) report, which is the first on the global state of biodiversity in soils.

The report was compiled by 300 scientists, who describe the worsening state of soils as at least as important as the climate crisis and destruction of the natural world above ground. Crucially, it takes thousands of years for soils to form, meaning urgent protection and restoration of the soils that remain is needed.

The scientists describe soils as like the skin of the living world, vital but thin and fragile, and easily damaged by intensive farming, forest destruction, pollution and global heating.

 It’s time we stopped treating soil like dirt – video

“Soil organisms play a crucial role in our everyday life by working to sustain life on Earth,” said Ronald Vargas, of the FAO and the secretary of the Global Soil Partnership.

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