Commentary

Warming delusion

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The fruits of our hydrocarbon world outside a Walmart in Pendelton, Ore./Craig Medred photo

PENDELTON, Ore. – On a 70-degree, June Friday with the air dry and a gentle breeze blowing – near perfect conditions for human-powered transportation – only the poor and a few children could be spotted making their way around this small town in ever-green Oregon on foot or by bicycle.

They are a testament to the delusion that the U.S. can somehow moderate its carbon-dioxide (CO2) producing ways by the government pledging to make it so. One of the most honest things truth-troubled President Donald Trump might have done in his time in office was announce he was pulling the country out of the 2016 Paris climate accord.

The agreement was and is a charade. Global leaders need to find a new path forward. Asking nations to agree to goals that require they request or order citizens to make sacrifices isn’t working and isn’t going to work.

Consider Canada, a proud signatory in Paris that promised aggressive reductions only to increase its emissions.

It’s not really Canada’s fault. It can’t help being part of a hydrocarbon-dependent world. From food to fertilizer, from balloons to the boats outside the local Walmart, from clothes to calking, we depend on products derived from hydrocarbons, and that’s just the beginning.

Our world has been taken over by labor-reducing, hydrocarbon-consuming machines.

Workers here in a community famous for wool shirts clean sidewalks and parking lots of cut grass and loose gravel with backpack blowers powered by gas-guzzling engines. Along roadways, in front of homes and at businesses everywhere on a drive southeast from Seattle, what is said of this old community built on human labor could be said of almost every community.

America is a motorized culture. Everywhere you look once human-powered activities have been taken over by the machines, and directly or indirectly, the power for those machines comes from hydrocarbons.

No matter how those hydrocarbons are consumed – be it in the form of gasoline, diesel fuel, electricity or coal –  they produce carbon dioxide. Thus it should come as no surprise that two years after Paris, greenhouse gas emissions keep going up and are expected to increase even more in 2020.

At a time when there’s all this talk about how we should be decreasing CO2emissions, the amount of CO2 we’re putting into the atmosphere is clearly accelerating,” National Oceanic and Atmospheric senior scientist Pieter Tans said in a prepared statement on the 2018 numbers. “It’s no coincidence that the last four years also had the highest CO2 emissions on record.”

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Going up

And CO2 levels are expected to rise even more this year, according to the BBC.

As everyone in Alaska knows, there is much talk about the Arctic and the near-Arctic being at the “forefront of climate change,” as the World Wildlife Federation puts it. But the battleground is really in the lower latitudes where most of the planet’s rapidly growing human population lives.

Most there are responsible in some part for the steady increase in COand Americans are most responsible in that they pioneered the easy lifestyle so many on the planet now covet.

American motor vehicles led the way to unprecedented individual mobility. Americans popularized idealized housing in temperature-controlled buildings cooled to the perfect level for humans in summer and heated to the same in winter.

America led the way in creating powered gadgets to assist with almost anything a human wants to do by replacing human energy with machine energy.

Technology is a wonderful thing. It is also near impossible to rollback.

Nobody is going to stop much of the rest of the world from wanting the conveniences Americans enjoy, and any U.S. politician who runs on a platform of making Americans give up these things to keep the sky from falling is doomed.

Other tactics, meanwhile, don’t seem to be working.

Seattle is claiming credit in shifting some drivers to mass transit after voters committed to spending $54 billion to build infrastructure over the course of the next 25 years, but the latest report on traffic volume shows average daily traffic at more than 1 million vehicles per day, about the same rate as a decade ago.

An engineer working on the project admitted over the weekend the idea really isn’t to reduce traffic, but to keep it from getting even worse, which just about defines the CO2 problem perfectly.

No matter how much anybody wants to reduce CO2 and no matter what gains are being made thanks to new renewable energy sources, LED lights, electric cars, and other good-hearted, good-faith attempts to reduce atmospheric CO2, population growth is likely to outstrip any conservation efforts.

The United Nations projects the world population of 7.6 billion people today will reach 8.6 billion by 2030 and 9.8 billion by 2050.

All those people are going to produce more CO2. It would appear obvious that short anything other than a major cultural change in the Western world, any reduction in carbon production is going to be offset by the population increase.

Changing cultures – short of employing catastrophic war – is not easy. It takes a long time if it can be done at all.

All lit up

Flying into the SeaTac airport on a clear night, the scene below tells the story. The I-5 freeway north into the city is painted with a solid stream of motor vehicle headlights.

Who knows where those folks are going, but just try telling them they shouldn’t be using a car to drive there or, for that matter, adding COto the atmosphere to cool their home from 85 degrees to 70 degrees, or pushing a rotary lawn mower instead of a powered one, or doing by human power any of the myriad tasks now driven by machine power.

We have met the enemy, and he is us.

Reducing the carbon footprint of the average citizen of the Western world is a lot easier to say than to do. We probably should be proud of what little we have been able to do thanks to better-insulated homes, more efficient engines of all sorts, and energy-saving electrical appliances.

But let’s not kid ourselves. If world leaders really want to do something about global warming, they are either going to need to impose draconian measures that change the way people live (good luck with that in a democracy) or start mining carbon from the air or the oceans.

If, of course, they really do want to stop global warming.

“The Kremlin’s Key to World Dominance: Climate Change,” The National Interest, an international affairs magazine, headlined earlier this year.

“First of all, most Russians will be shielded from the primary effects of climate change because of the country’s geography,” wrote Chas Goldman.

‘The thawing of the Arctic Sea could also create tremendous benefits for the Kremlin. A study by the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that 30 percent of the world’s untapped natural gas and 13 percent of untapped oil reserves are trapped in the Arctic, right in Putin’s backyard. As the ice thaws and research and development improves, the cost needed to extract those materials will shrink significantly and offer a potential economic boom for Russia.

“…A shipping route from Russia’s Northern coast to East Asia will develop. The implications of this new global trade route are hard to understate; Chinese exports to Europe would likely travel through Russia, giving Moscow currently unimaginable economic leverage over NATO adversaries in Eastern and Western Europe.

“(And) as Giuseppe Agliastro at the Italian daily La Stampa has noted, climate change has the potential to transform Russia into an ‘agricultural superpower’ as huge swaths of Russian territory morph from uninhabitable frozen tundra to fertile land. The warming climate could also make Russia a more attractive tourism destination, further aiding the Kremlin in its quest to diversify the domestic economy.”

Distraction

Russia has publicly backed the Paris accords, but then why wouldn’t it? They are a package of promises impossible to keep.

The Russians might have a better grasp of the reality than the West, and that reality seems increasingly clear:

The only real hope of reducing atmospheric COanytime in the near future is to remove it from the atmosphere. There are natural ways to do so now, according to the National Academies of Science, and new ways are under study.

“Direct air capture or carbon mineralization could be revolutionary because the potential capacity for CO2 removal of each of these options is larger than the need,” the government agency reported in October. “The primary impediment to direct air capture is high cost.

“Climeworks, which operates the only commercial direct air capture machine reports a cost of $600 per ton of CO2. There is no commercial driving force for developing direct air capture technologies, in contrast to other negative emissions technologies (NETs) such as afforestation/reforestation, bioenergy with carbon capture and
sequestration (BECCS)-to-fuels, and coastal blue carbon, which bring economic and other benefits unrelated to their climate impacts.

“Therefore, developing a low-cost direct air capture option will require
sustained government investment. Cooperating and competing researchers and start-ups could explore options and advance many dimensions of the technology at once.”

The easiest funding source is, of course, the obvious one: a carbon tax.

The idea has been supported by Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and Trump’s chief advisor on economic affairs who in 2007 co-authored a report pushing the idea while at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

A carbon tax would likely be a tough sell in the U.S., but could present an arguably easier path forward than any policies now on the table. Americans have a long history of embracing technology.

They are conditioned to attack problems not retreat from them.

An assault on COmight well have more appeal to the masses than a withdrawal into sacrifice. The country in the 1960s embraced a hugely costly program to put a man on the moon in order to beat the Russians there.

It might well now be in the natural interest to freeze shut Russia’s northern sea route before it can be fully developed and prevent the country from becoming a major agricultural competitor on the global stage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

44 replies »

  1. The fraud continues with its raping.
    France will introduce an “eco-tax” of up to 18 euros on tickets for all flights leaving France, the government has said.

    “We have decided to put in place an eco-tax on all flights from France,” transport minister Elisabeth Borne said during a news conference on Tuesday.

  2. I am less afraid of nuclear power than nuclear war with the Middle East. And I say this living close to lots of dumps of radiated stuff from WW II. One producer switching from plastic water bottles to can doesn’t cut it. Nor does not producer producing glass straws.

  3. Trump is not only ruining our relationships with other countries, he has stopped the recycling of glass to China! He’s such an idiot. I can’t see how any female voted for him. But they did. Let us hope we won’t have this unreasonable man for a second term.

    • Shame Ann that you do not recognize one of the best presidents of our lifetime. Loved Trump’s patriotic display in DC last night. Beautiful. Oh wait, you didnt vote for Obama did you? One of the worst, most unqualified, lying, racist, anti-American presidents ever. Well, besides Carter. Oh, women still like real men you know. Judging by the 2020 Democrat race baiting, “freebies for everybody” line-up, I’d get comfortable with another Trump 4. DJT saves you from your own self. You should take comfort.

    • Don I agree with the link you sent to a high degree. There is something wrong with our management of game and fisheries.

    • Isn’t it funny that the liberals/Enviros and their silly fear of nuclear energy actually harm the environment more by forcing coal, oil, fracking, etc.. I know the nuclear “sky” is falling.. yadda. Idiots!!

      • Bryan,
        If U think nuclear power is so safe, U may wish to visit Chernobyl or Fukushima on your next vacation?
        Be sure to pack a Geiger Counter for recreation…
        It appears our neighbor across the Bering Sea is planning on towing a floating nuclear reactor into the Arctic.
        “Kremlin is ready to tow to the Arctic the world’s first floating nuclear power station with a capacity to supply 70 MW, which is sufficient for the energy needs for a city with 200,000 residents.”
        Hopefully they are not planning a military “build up” in the region.

        https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.ibtimes.com/chernobyl-ice-russia-tow-floating-nuclear-power-plant-arctic-2803891%3famp=1

      • Fukushima, an early modern Western design built in one of the most seismically active places on earth, resulted in exactly one possible death and essentially no detectable long-term damage or risk. Chernobyl was a old Soviet reactor run with all the technological and personnel skills communists are known for, and even that has had little long term impact.

        Neither are relevant to use of truly modern reactor designs in the vast majority of the Western world. Nuclear power is a bogeyman hippies use to scare their kids, not any sort of real threat.

      • Matthew,
        Do you really feel there are NO “detectable long-term damage or risk” from these melt downs?
        Look at the rise of cancer around the globe…
        I was a young child living in PA when the “3 mile Island meltdown” occurred and I can tell you first hand that these are not just old “Communist” reactors that fail (just so you know a subsidiary of GE was running Fukushima when it went into “meltdown” as well).
        “The Three Mile Island Unit 2 reactor, near Middletown, Pa., partially melted down on March 28, 1979. This was the most serious accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant operating history…”
        Time to move ahead with Clean Energy sources and not back to the past with nuclear energy…which seems like what Russia is doing.

      • Steve, I believe in the science. And the science shows no long term negative outcomes from even comparatively ancient nuclear reactor accidents. Three Mile Island was decades ago, and that design was nothing like the new tech.

        A complete bogeyman of people credulous enough to take “The China Syndrome” as a documentary. Look at the data, there’s no causal link between the few nuke accidents over the years and the ‘ rise in cancer.’ The burden is on those claiming harm to prove it, there’s no way to prove a negative.

      • Steve, are you seeing a “misinformation” pattern here?
        Rev. Samuel Rodriguez was “full of indignation” when he saw the reports and heard from politicians about the deplorable and inhumane conditions for illegal immigrants at an El Paso County, Texas migrant detention center. But what he saw at the same facility toured by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. with a group of pastors was “drastically different”.
        https://www.foxnews.com/politics/immigration-border-facility-aoc-hispanic

      • Bryan,
        What I am seeing is millions of Americans influenced by FOX news which is the Capitalism version of RT…
        It seems our Judicial branch of government does not agree with your “Fox news” findings…
        “A federal judge has ordered a mediator to move swiftly to improve health and sanitation at Border Patrol facilities in Texas, where observers reported migrant children were subject to filthy conditions that imperiled their health.”
        “Monitors from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General detailed other serious problems with overcrowding at Customs and Border Protection facilities in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.”

        https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nytimes.com/2019/06/29/us/migrant-children-detention-texas.amp.html

      • Steve, there is the truth, somewhere in the middle, and outright lies. I would think by now that it would be easy to predict who is selling what in this day and age. I mean, how many times has your source, the NYT’s, been caught outright lying, fabricating, or just plain omitting while carrying water for the Democrat Party? You do realize it is the Marxist/Communist/Socialist way to stack the government and Education establishment with radicals to further their criminal and political agenda? So, when you quote a “Judge” in the NYT’s, you might want to dig a little deeper into the dirtballs history to find the true story.

      • Bryan you speak the truth about the anti American New York Times . The democrats and anti Americans are trying to use the border drama as a political weapon. It’s so ironic as their actions are the primary creation of the problem. Obama acerbated it then the democrats delayed funding for the people being detained. Denying funds for years . It’s their fault period . Their policy’s are undermining our economy and their actions and promises of free unearned benifits are luring more foreigners to the border . Now they want to lie and dramatize and blame trump . The leaders of the democrats have truly lost their way . Occasionally coherent was trying to stop emergency funding for border needs . She is not fit for public service and is using her pedestal for personal gain at the loss of her constituents and illegals at the border . She is barely fit to serve drinks in a bar . I wouldn’t trust her to serve me .

      • Bryan,
        I get that you Despise the NYT’s and their staff…all reporters are bad and the whole “Trumpian” manifesto…
        There are numerous sites reporting on this recent ruling in LA federal court.
        This is not “fake news” brother.
        “U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is required to allow doctors inside child migrant detention facilities thanks to a federal judge’s ruling on Friday (June 28), CNN reports.”
        “The team of lawyers that exposed dangerous and unsanitary conditions at a detention center housing children in Clint, Texas, filed a motion asking that the Trump administration be held in contempt and ordered to make immediate improvements at subpar CBP facilities in Texas.”
        Seems like there was more Truth in AOC’s assessment than the establishment cares to acknowledge.

        https://www.colorlines.com/articles/judge-forces-detention-centers-open-doors-doctors

      • Steve, do you remember the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and Obama’s purposeful delay and slow response to feed his nutty enviro base with an utter OIL DISASTER? Typical Democrat fashion, take a bad situation and make it worse on purpose, then blame the situation. As Rahm Emmanuel said “never let a good crisis go to waste”. The border issues are to a large degree the result of Democrats and their “free this or free that” BS for votes. Sure, there are concentration camps for children on the border. What a load of crap.. Hell, terrorist scum in Gitmo get 2 lawyers each, prayer rubs, 3 hots and a cot..So please!!!

      • Bryan…
        Try to focus on the subject of detention centers…
        I know how easy you can unwind into your Democrat rant for defense…
        This is not the first time in U.S. History that our country has had detention centers…or the second time for that matter.
        Most think of Ellis Island as a “beacon” 4 Democracy, but in fact many immigrants were held there for years without trial (many times before getting sent home).
        This is the reason why Lawyers just filed suit in Cali against the Trump administration(and WON their case)…starting to “hold” that many people in America is a red flag.
        We have no idea the lawyers political ideology or if they are party members of any sort.
        Try to stick to the focus of detention centers or “concentration camps” if that helps you understand the seriousness of this situation.
        “…immigrants and foreign nationals remained trapped on Ellis Island for months and even years. And much like Szigeti, many never knew the exact charges against them or the specific evidence the Immigration and Naturalization Service used to detain them. As Szigeti’s lawyer reported, they had no idea what was in the Department of Justice files, making it particularly difficult to craft a defense of their client. This pattern of restricted civil liberties was born in the World Wars, but found surprising staying power as the United States entered the 1950s and confronted new ideological demons.”

        https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.atlasobscura.com/articles/ellis-islands-forgotten-final-act-as-a-cold-war-detention-center.amp

      • Steve, you break the law you belong in a “Detention Center” or prison, what part of illegal do you not understand? Even the illegals know they are illegal before they even cross the border.
        Honestly, love how the Dems selectively care about children NOW!!! What a joke.
        Ellis Island? Seriously? Just like today, those immigrants, like today’s illegal “immigrants” bring/brought diseases to the USA. They should be quarantined. Plus, the parents of those children “toss” em over the wall with complete strangers posing as their parents. Honestly, Id drop every one of them in Mexico City. WE DO NOT NEED THEM HERE.
        If anybody enslaved anybody in our history it was Demokrats.

      • And another thing Steve, I am pretty sure everyone of those illegals can walk right back across the border from where they came. Nobody keeping them here. Problem is they will not leave.

      • Bryan,
        we need to look at the events in south and central America that have led to the mass migration situation that we see today with over 100K of “aliens” getting detained near our southern border each month…
        the destabilization with CIA interventions on top of “neo liberal” trade policies dictated by ‘Friedman” Economics…aka the “Chicago Boys” has devastated these peoples lives and allowed for “drug lords” to rule over what were once peaceful towns.
        “we must also acknowledge the role that a century of U.S.-backed military coups, corporate plundering, and neoliberal sapping of resources has played in the poverty, instability, and violence that now drives people from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras toward Mexico and the United States. For decades, U.S. policies of military intervention and economic neoliberalism have undermined democracy and stability in the region, creating vacuums of power in which drug cartels and paramilitary alliances have risen.”

        https://medium.com/s/story/timeline-us-intervention-central-america-a9bea9ebc148

      • Kind of funny that all those illegals coming across the border are either looking for the handouts, money and jobs or are gang members looking to further their cause. Imagine that? I know, the Dems built tue bogus narrative of oppression because “looking for handouts and jobs” didnt fly with the American people.

    • Natural gas generation plants brought online in the past 20+ years have drastically reduced carbon emissions. It isn’t talked about much since the money and power brokers like to sow fear as a way to reap the money and power they so desire.

    • Mathew. You have an interesting take on nuclear power. Personally I wouldn’t touch it with a 10 ft pole ; ) We could debate stats all day but bottom line is history has proven- what can happen will happen to a large degree. Best case scenario is you have dust from uranium/ radioactive mining pollution and then storage of spent fuel rods . That’s best case . My question is why ? There are so many amazing alternatives! If you put the science into creating a grid for alternative energy that is put into a nuclear plant you are golden. It’s sunny somewhere . A continental or world wide grid is needed to reduce reliance on batteries. Put some science thought into it . You will see I’m right . I’m personally not concerned in the least about carbon . I worry about the chemicals that go with it . They are toxic to human health. So let’s say you use natural gas – why not ? It’s one of earths most abundant least polluting hydrocarbons. Look into ice . There is a shocking quantity. As to alternative options We have the technology to cover every building surface with solar panels as a siding product. Almost Every man made surface can be coated with photovoltaic panels . A light post should be one big coated panel ect -There are flexible ones , clear glass ones ,photovoltaic paint stiff panels ect ect . It would truly energize your mind if you add up the potential. The application is still in the Stone Age . Obviously that’s not counting tidal , thermal , micro hydro and others. Someone just started building hydrogen powered semis . The reason you take nuclear off the table is because of Murphy’s law . It’s not the boogy man it’s just factually raising the odds of a problem. Even down to the fact evil people can use spent rods as and materials as weapons.( our military even does ) Sure you may be right there are few confirmed deaths from nuclear disaster but science confirms the compounding effect of disease from radiation , heavy metals toxic chemicals. ( you already know all this I’m certain- I think you just brought it up for entertainment to see who would be triggered : ) please try to proove the safety of nuclear disaster. Is it still on the table ?

      • Interesting side note is I’m moderately qualified to have a strong opinion on potential of alternative energy. Due to experience . I’m not good with specifics . brothers are heavily educated in such . One was commissioned for a few years to teach about photovoltaic in Australia and China . Another has an off grid farm and was employed as an installer . He built his own micro hydro water turbine . Printed a bunch of parts with a 3-d printer . He sells programs for 3-d to Scandinavians. I’ve seen the long term fully functional systems even in the north – washers dryers pumps , big fridges and freezers ,lights full beyond standard houses with very minimal assistance from hydrocarbon fuels except 6 weeks of year.but you can’t use common methods. Seen it done with minimal cost . 25 k range which is what a electrical hookup to grid can cost if it’s any distance. What I recommend more though is a huge world wide or at least continental grid . The biggest mistake people make with alternative energy is following standard methods and dogma . You have to use common sense when designing a system. Go outside the box

      • Note that article (not study) doesn’t discuss the new technology, at all. And it also admits that it addresses a straw man argument of “complete use of nuclear power.” Note it also doesn’t address the argument I was making, which involved lowering carbon production, nuclear plants produce about zero once constructed, compared to the massive amounts generated by building and replacing other “renewables.”

        You’ll have to try harder.

      • Mathew you are right that article was peppered with a lot of opinion and supposition as to technology we would use and materials available without a lot of precise documented facts to back their numbers. The basic concept was accurate though. They drew a picture of improbable long term function for future of nuclear power. Showing a lot of draw backs with very few pros . Which begs the question-why ? When there are so many relatively safe alternatives. Solar sails aside perhaps if a space ship for travel of long distances was needed I could see more benifit to nuclear power. Here on earth it’s unneeded.

  4. We have limited resources. We should not be putting our limited resources to work reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Cure cancer, reduce suicides, stop Ebola. This would benefit people so much more.

    • Kevin,
      Many researchers believe harmful exhaust chemicals from say Diesel engines (or coal power plants) can cause lung problems (and eventually cancer)….
      So by finding a way beyond burning fossil fuels for energy we can in fact “cure cancer”.

  5. You don’t really want to try to cool the planet in the middle of an interglacial. Nobody yet knows when the climate will flip again into the next Great Ice Age. Last one removed enough CO2 from the atmosphere to really limit plant growth. And we are heading into a solar cycle or two of what looks to be very quiet sun. Take a look at the Maunder, Dalton or Sporer minimums to see the correlation between solar activity and global cooling.

    OTOH, if your goal is minimizing CO2 emissions, the US is already well on the way to doing it with the adoption of natural gas as primary electrical generation (about a third of energy use here in AK). And it didn’t take any government intervention at all. Only way to do better is widespread adoption of Gen IV nuclear for electrical generation. Gen IV can’t melt down and burns its own waste for fuel. Cheers –

  6. The idea of iron fertilization of the oceans has been around for some time https://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/feature/fertilizing-the-ocean-with-iron/

    There are a number of other cheaper options for cooling the globe, if we wanted to do so…look up freakonomics and The injection of sulfer dioxide into the stratosphere.

    We could do a lot of things, if we wanted to. The collective will of humanity has accomplished amazing things, going to the moon was huge, but going back even further to the great wall of China and the pyramids. Humans, even with modest tools can accomplish amazing things. So the question should be why aren’t we doing more, the answer is simple…money and power. The amount of money spent on being “green” is huge and the amount of power sought by forcing the “green” agenda is massive.

  7. We will all be dead in 11 years, 64 days. “What difference does it make’? A freshman Senator named AOC and a criminal named Hillary told me so. Love tue rain tax and flush tax as well. Show me da money!!!! So, how can we have the same Co2 levels as we did 3 million years ago? What a scam!!

    • Bryan,
      We can talk about the “rain tax” you mentioned…
      It seems like that is shaping up to be a big factor for the 2020 elections back in PA.
      Some of my friends that have inherited family farms are strapped with this absurdity and you can imagine the cost of this fascist “rain tax” on 500 acres or more in prime “development” country in PA.
      Americans need to wake up to the writing on the wall and stop the federal reserve from devaluing our dollar through Trillions of dollars in foreign debt (year after year).
      Just like Americans once paid a tax to the queen of England….they may soon deposit their tax checks directly to China.

    • Freshman Senator? Actually, AOC is a member of our US House of Representatives, from the great State of New York.

      • James, I stand corrected. You are correct. Although, nothing great about NY.

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