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Telegraph Blames Biblical Plague Of Locusts On Global Warming

January 30, 2020

By Paul Homewood


Biblical locust swarms – and, of course, it’s all due to climate change:



The locusts are coming thick and fast as the low-flying aircraft punches through the swarm, leaving khaki-coloured streaks smeared across the plane’s windscreen and obstructing the view outside. 

But the pilot – despite travelling at 100 miles per hour – is unfazed. He simply winds down the window of the unpressurised cockpit, reaches his arm outside and wipes away what’s left of the insects with a damp cloth.

This is life on the frontline for locust hunters, as they battle to contain the worst plague to hit the Horn of Africa for some seven decades – on Monday, the United Nations will convene a conference in Rome with the aim of mobilising $70 million (£53 million) to help respond to the crisis.

The swarms emerged in Yemen early last summer but have since poured into northern Kenya – where a “super-swarm” some 2,400 square kilometres wide was spotted last week.

It is only the third time since 1950 that locusts swarms have been seen on this scale.

In biblical style, the locusts have already devoured and destroyed 70,000 hectares (175,000 acres) of farmland across Somalia and Ethiopia, and earlier this month a passenger plane was diverted and grounded in Ethiopia after an unexpected swarm blocked its entry to Dire Dawa airport…..

Concerns have already been raised that the invasion could threaten a food crisis and stall economic growth in the region unless the situation is brought under control.

“The current situation is easily the worst we’ve had in decades and is a result of very unusual cyclones,” said Keith Cressman, the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) lead locust expert.

“Cyclones bring very heavy rains, meaning breeding conditions for desert locusts are extremely favourable for much longer than usual. As a result swarms can grow very rapidly… the numbers just skyrocket.”

He added that these cyclones have in turn been triggered by climate change, which has made extreme weather events all the more common worldwide. 

Swarms of desert locusts fly up into the air from crops

Swarms of desert locusts fly up into the air from crops Credit: AP


I sometimes wonder about the overused and ridiculous epithet of “biblical”. It is strange that we now get all of these disasters because of global warming, even though they were evidently perfectly common 2000 years ago!


And what about “climate change”?

As we know, the number of cyclones has not been increasing worldwide, despite global warming, which rather makes a nonsense of the claim that these cyclones have in turn been triggered by climate change.

The number of cyclones in East Africa last year, or more to the point the amount of rainfall, may be greater than average, but this is the direct result of the strong Indian Ocean Dipole, which also brought severe drought to Australia. There is no evidence whatsoever that this was in any way connected to climate change.

It is also ironic that we are bemoaning wet weather for East Africa, which is really a boon. It is of course the lush vegetation resulting which has encouraged the plague of locusts, just as it did in biblical times.


There is however a much more sinister aspect to this story, as Climate Change Dispatch relates:



Two weeks ago a Boeing 737 on final approach to Dire Dawa, Ethiopia, flew into a massive cloud of locusts swarming above the airport.

The insects were sucked into the plane’s engines and splattered across the windshield, blinding the pilots to the runway ahead.

Throttling up to climb above the swarm, the pilot had to depressurize the cabin so he could reach around from the side window and clear the windshield by hand. Diverting to Addis Ababa, the plane was able to land safely.

The locusts that almost brought down the 737 are part of the worst infestation to hit Africa in 75 years.

Swarms of locusts can blanket 460 miles at a time and consume more than 400 million pounds of vegetation a day; and the grasshopper-like insects increase logarithmically, meaning locust swarms could be 500 times bigger in six months.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) calls the threat “unprecedented,” but attempts at aerial spraying have been too little, too late — largely because of FAO’s own politically-driven agenda to limit pesticides — and experts fear Africa may once again be tilting toward widespread famine.

As poor farmers futilely shoo the voracious insects away with sticks, this modern plague highlights the urgent need for pesticides to protect crops and save lives.

It also casts into stark relief the tragic consequences of UN, European and environmentalist campaigns to deny these life-saving chemicals to developing nations.

Over the last decade, development organizations and activist NGOs have increasingly pushed organic-style agriculture on the poorest nations, making assistance dependent on a highly politicized version of “agro-ecology” that arbitrarily limits pesticides, bans advanced hybrid crops and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and extols the virtues of “peasant” farming.

The result is that Africa has been left virtually defenseless against successive natural assaults to the continent’s ability to feed itself.

The locusts arrive on top of Africa’s on-going struggle with the Fall Army Worm (FAW), which has already spread to some 44 countries. It feeds on a range of plants, but prefers corn, the staple food for most Africans, and has reduced yields by 50% in many regions.

In the Americas, FAW is kept in check by a combination of insect-resistant GMOs and modern pesticides.

Yet most African countries have not authorized GMOs because of well-funded environmental propaganda campaigns demonizing the technology — claiming GMOs cause everything from impotence to cancer and autism — and fear of losing their primary export market in Europe, which has arbitrarily restricted critical pesticides used in every other advanced, developed region of the world.

The FAO, while discouraging pesticides and GMOs, advises farmers to pick off the insects one by one and crush them with their hands.

Add to this epidemics of Wheat Rust (potential crop loss 100%); Banana Wilt (50% crop loss); and Cassava Mosaic Virus (up to 90% loss).

There are thousands of pests around the world that attack agricultural plants, and they don’t just kill crops.

Molds that can only be controlled with pesticides produce highly poisonous metabolites called mycotoxins that, if they don’t kill you immediately, can give you cancer and destroy your immune system.

They probably constitute the number one food-health threat even in wealthy nations, but we keep levels safe with pesticides, GMOs, and expensive food inspection regimes — all things Africa is being denied or can’t afford.

Then there are the insect-borne diseases like Malaria, Zika, Dengue, and countless other parasitic and viral infections.

When Zika or West Nile threaten our cities, we haul out the spray cans and ignore the griping of environmentalists.

In Africa, however, the anti-pesticide groups hold sway. At their urging, Kenya may soon ban over 200 pesticides that evidence-based regulatory agencies around the world have deemed safe and that Kenya’s farmers desperately need.

Those who think small-scale organic farming is friendlier to mother nature are wrong. Organic farmers use lots of pesticides.

They’re simply “natural” ones, like copper sulfate or neem oil, which are highly toxic to people and wildlife. They’re also less effective against pests, so they have to use more of them.

Modern pesticides are among the most carefully tested and regulated chemicals in use, and they are used increasingly in targeted, precise ways to limit wider environmental impacts.

Most importantly, modern farming allows us to produce more food on less land. According to Rockefeller University’s Jesse Ausubel, US corn production has quintupled on the same amount of land.

He estimates that if American farming techniques were to be adopted globally, an area the size of India could be returned to nature over the next 50 years.

“Better Living Through Chemistry” was the catchy DuPont slogan of the 1960s. The slogan rings true for those of us living longer, healthier lives of plenty, with more food than at any time in human history.

But if the campaigns against chemicals and the demonization of modern agriculture are successful, these gains may well be reversed.

Perhaps that’s the plan. Radical environmentalists have maintained that human beings are the problem. “Fewer Living Without Chemistry” might as well be the slogan of the modern environmentalist movement.

For some reason the Telegraph report forgot to mention any of this.

  1. emel permalink
    January 30, 2020 11:25 am

    One wonders if this all happened before in ancient Egypt as new plagues seem to appear daily, and it’s all due to climate change. And I suppose the burning bush for Moses was caused by a wild fire. Amazing.

  2. Tim Spence permalink
    January 30, 2020 12:16 pm

    We’ll know for sure when the Nile turns blood red, that being the IPCC’s worst case scenario in CMIP6.

    • Eddie P permalink
      January 30, 2020 6:26 pm

      The Nile turns blood red at regular intervals. Moses knew his geography and not his climatology. It’s all down to heavy rain upstream washing down red colored sediments.

      • Tim Spence permalink
        January 31, 2020 10:17 am

        To be fair Eddie, it’s a bit sad when you can’t have a little joke without some know-all trying to put you straight.

  3. Eoin Mc permalink
    January 30, 2020 12:16 pm

    This Telegraph piece is yet another exemplifying the insidious climate alarmism-creep that is now all across the Western media. Since I have come to realise that this type of phenomena is all part of the natural cycles of the planet over multi millions of years, I can separate the hype from the reality. The vast majority of others, however, will not realise that the authors of pieces such as this have not even cursosily researched the issue of climate; which blogs such as this provide. Neutrals will not realise that critical fact checking climate science-sceptic blogs exist. When I was in school in Dublin in the 1960s & 1970s regular references were made to the Dust Bowl – with respect to the economic effect those hot conditions had on the American economy. Now the Dust Bowl is never mentioned anywhere. Neither is the colder 1945*1980 cooler period ever mentioned. There appears to be no way back from this Peak Delusion.

  4. January 30, 2020 12:23 pm

    Wilfred Thesiger was sponsored on his epic Arabian journeys in the 1950s by the Middle East anti-locust unit. They wanted to know if there was a locust breeding ground in the Arabian Peninsular. So we have locusts to thank for his wonderful travel books.

    • calnorth permalink
      January 31, 2020 10:51 am

      I worked 5 years in Jeddah and watched our Saudi drivers eat them, having snatched them out of the air….nutritious apparently? A locust development area is in the desert south of Jeddah. In Africa the WHO operatives (sprayers) based in Greece stated in the 70/80’s that they could not get in to endangered areas due to constant wars…anything changed?

  5. mjr permalink
    January 30, 2020 12:26 pm

    unfortunately it is common practice now to produce a factual article and then suffix it with “…… these have in turn been triggered by climate change, which has made extreme weather events all the more common worldwide. ” even though it is not relevant
    And as this is now the norm it allows the likes of C4 to schedule “Australia on Fire – Climate emergency” next week, even though we know that it is not Climate Change that is the cause, and for politicians to repeatedly say “climate emergency” in every sentence (see yesterday’s PMQs

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      January 30, 2020 1:01 pm

      MJR: When I’m faced with people who use this ki d if hyperbole (‘climate-change causing bad weather’) I like to ask them, which came first, the weather or the climate? They tend not to know the difference.

  6. January 30, 2020 12:29 pm

    In an earlier post, the Indian Ocean Dipole was mentioned, in relation to the fires and drought in Australia this year. It mentioned about E Africa being very wet as a corollary to this. The Sultanate of Oman, where much of Thesiger’s journeys took place, shares many similarities to the Horn of Africa, and surprise, surprise, it’s been a really wet winter there this year.

    When I lived in Oman, it was quite obvious that there were decade long cycles. A couple of really wet winters followed by a good number of pretty indifferent ones. The IOD explains this all really neatly. It just happens that this year’s IOD is pretty strong.

    • Gary permalink
      January 30, 2020 1:10 pm

      And in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh there has been record cold. From the BBC, surprisingly,, No mention of this on the Main Stream Media of course. And of course no mention about the green loonies pushing natural pest control methods in Africa rather than using traditional pesticides –

      • Ben Vorlich permalink
        January 30, 2020 9:15 pm

        It’s been cold in Mongolia and there’s been heavy snow in Kazakhstan. At the beginning of January 600km of the Yellow River was frozen solid. Judging by the lack of BBC coverage this must be about normal, no warming which would be newsworthy and no super record breaking cold.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      January 31, 2020 10:29 am

      I recall a very wet storm when visiting Fujairah. We arrived in sunshine, but by late morning the heavens opened. Lunch was in the rooftop restaurant. The roof was not sealed against rain. I have photos of the lamp fittings turned literally into goldfish bowls, full of water. Some had flights to catch from DUB that night, so an evacuation was ordered in a Bedford bus, which fortunately made it through the floodwaters that sprang up instantly. Going through the Oman mountains, there was a bridge over a wadi that had been dry in the morning. By our return, it was completely submerged in a torrent of water. Driving back across the desert, it was astonishing to see the green stubble that had sprung up in a matter of hours in response to the wet. Navigating through Sharjah was an interesting exercise. The underpasses had all become canals – again with no drainage. The massive Souk car park was empty. Old hands rated it as the wettest storm in 30 years. I think it was in Feb 1983.

  7. Harry Passfield permalink
    January 30, 2020 12:36 pm

    I’m only surprised it wasn’t called a ‘doomsday swarm’.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      January 30, 2020 3:49 pm

      Apparently 0.03C of warming triggers a gene mutation that makes locusts eat live flesh. There were cow skeletons still standing in the fields the flesh was stripped so fast by the swarm.

      • Graeme No.3 permalink
        January 30, 2020 9:50 pm

        No, you are thinking of The Swarm and the other movie Hollywood put out in the 1970’s. They were about the scare du jour then – Mutant Killer Bees.
        African bees were spreading and would wipe out human settlement in the southern USA. They (the movies) seem to have sunk without trace, not even appearing on late (or very early hours) on the channel fond of old movies.

        I am not sure about the cows but Hollywood would have worked them in if they could.

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        January 30, 2020 10:20 pm

        Nah, I’m sure it happened in real life.

        Just caught the beginning of the film ‘Snowpiercer’ (2013). It started with news coverage of eco groups protesting and the usual global warming scare nonsense. Just about to turn off to avoid another lecture, then the twist, scientists had tried to bring average global temperatures down to ‘normal’ by spraying CW-7 (whatever that is) into the upper atmosphere, just like the madmen want to try now. The narration then reveals the earth has plunged into an ice age and nearly all life is extinct. A sensible warning that will no doubt be ignored.

  8. Dave Ward permalink
    January 30, 2020 12:44 pm

    “He simply winds down the window of the unpressurised cockpit, reaches his arm outside and wipes away what’s left of the insects with a damp cloth”

    It’s not just his visibility which is affected – that layer of dead bugs will reduce the efficiency of the wings and propeller. In an already hot country, that loss of thrust and lift could be significant. He’d better make sure to clean both before trying to take off from the next short airstrip…

  9. Rowland P permalink
    January 30, 2020 12:50 pm

    Is this all a covert plan to limit/reduce the human population?

    • Mack permalink
      January 30, 2020 2:00 pm

      It won’t be very covert if the old Malthusian himself, Sir David Attenborough, pitches up to launch the next climate change instalment…’Murder of the First Born’. Bound to happen after the doomsters run out of plagues to blame on humanity.

  10. David Roby permalink
    January 30, 2020 1:09 pm

    As a geography teacher in the early 1980s I remember showing classes film of locust swarms being splattered on the windscreens of spraying aircraft armies of locusts on the ground devouring vegetation in their paths. I wasn;t teaching anything about global warming and climate change!

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      January 31, 2020 10:37 am

      I remember having had a heated enclosed fish tank with sand in it in which a number of locusts were raised in the school lab. The idea was to observe their various instar phases of development. We were also shown film of locust swarms in action including discussion of their social behaviour, with aircraft spraying them in a bid to control the populations. Techniques for locust control were thus part of my education.

  11. StephenP permalink
    January 30, 2020 1:25 pm

    I remember back in the 1950s seeing a film about locust swarms.
    There was a forecasting service that monitored rainfall that was higher than usual.
    In these areas the grasshopper population bred in large numbers and the eggs hatched out into a flightless form of grasshopper called hoppers.
    At this stage the farmers would try to reduce numbers using a large form of fly swat, but a bit of a hopeless task given the numbers.
    These hoppers then developed wings and became the swarms that covered vast areas and defeated the poor farmers crops.
    Back in the 1950s there were teams of aerial sprayers that used DDT to try and reduce swarm numbers. Very much a no-no now.
    All in all it is a bit of a thankless task trying to survive with peasant technology, in spite of the supposed ‘wisdom’.
    Wet weather helps crops grow but also allows locusts to swarm, so without modern techniques it is back to square one.

  12. Hugh Sharman permalink
    January 30, 2020 1:26 pm

    Locusts were the staple diet of John the Baptist. Without belittling the help the farmers urgently need to replant, I am a bit surprised that the enthusiastic proponents of eating insects are not at the front end of this plague, seizing the moment to get rich!

    • Carbon500 permalink
      January 30, 2020 2:10 pm

      Hugh: eat locusts, not cows, that’s the planet saved!

  13. January 30, 2020 1:54 pm

    I think that the BBC, the Telegraph, Channel 4, the Grauniad etc etc are all trying to outdo each other as to which can come up with the most ridiculous “because climate change” scare story. The propaganda war is definitely ramping up.

    • emel permalink
      January 30, 2020 4:11 pm

      But surely the Coronavirus is due to climate change? Or am I getting ahead of the narrative here? Maybe it will be next week’s scare story. It’s all getting a bit apocalyptic.

  14. David Virgo permalink
    January 30, 2020 2:25 pm

    Some 40 years ago the company I worked for undertook the eighth negative rat carcinogenicity study on lindane. It was required by the EPA in order to maintain registration of this pesticide in the USA. The main use of lindane was to control locusts in east Africa, sales in the USA could not justify the expense but East African countries rely on US or EU approval since they did not have the expertise themselves. A lobby group in the USA were convinced that lindane is carcinogenic and wanted it banned (possibly supported by a competitor manufacturer). Lindane is ideal for control of locusts since it is stable in the hot and humid conditions prevalent in east Africa. It was apparently very successful for some 75 years. Unfortunately it is a relatively persistent pesticide and does not meet current favour – it had little use in the USA and less in the EU and so EPA approval was withdrawn in 2007 and WHO approval in 2009. The consequence is the current plague. Nothing at all to do with climate or weather.

    • David Virgo permalink
      January 30, 2020 5:01 pm

      The fact it took more than 25 years to get lindane’s registration withdrawn is a pretty good indication of just how safe it actually is.

    • Curious George permalink
      February 1, 2020 5:47 pm

      The similarity to Australia bush fires is striking. The modern state is like a huge steamroller. Let an unqualified driver control it, and sooner or later it crushes somebody’s garden.

  15. January 30, 2020 4:36 pm

    Today’s PR-notNews comes from “The Green Alliance” who’ve got the Yorkshire Post to cutNpaste their PR
    – Reducing energy use in transport
    COULD #1 “prevent tens of thousands of early deaths
    … and #2 Save the NHS 3.7bn a year”
    ..’so far the government has neglected moves to lower energy demand’
    “….Net Zero”
    ‘ also bring forward the banning of conventional cars from 2040 forward to 2030′
    “switching just 1.7% of car journeys to walking/cycling could deliver £2.5bn in health benefits’
    ‘help prevent 65,000 early deaths from air pollution”
    ‘ similar measures for homes could deliver £1.2bn’
    “NHS chief Simon Stevens says”
    The YP also puts a highlighted box quoting Met Office “World set for record heat”

    Why it’s PR BS
    … “Net Zero” is just a PR word
    + The whole statement is just numbers they’ve made up.

    Early deaths save money , do they ?
    Rather pensioners keep living longer so NHS costs keep rising.
    … More early deaths would save the NHS money.

    BTW Twitter says the GreenAlliance is a lobby org partially funded by Shell, BP etc.
    I see a cycling lobby group accused GA of stealing their work.

  16. Kalie permalink
    January 30, 2020 5:08 pm

    In the late fifties or early sixties, locusts descended on Nairobi in Kenya; after several days, when they had stripped every leaf and blade of grass, they carried on swarming southwards. The locusts came hard on the heels of army worms, which were equally destructive. My meteorologist father would have thought risible any claims that these swarms were caused by global warming. Frank Bailey, who was a locust officer during the fifties, wrote a book of his experiences of Harrying the Locust in 1957 and is well worth reading.

  17. Nancy & John Hultquist permalink
    January 30, 2020 6:11 pm

    In 1875 in the USA:

    A little history never hurt anyone.

  18. January 30, 2020 10:27 pm

    There’s a reason why they call them pesticides. Something to with pests and killing, it seems 🙄

  19. January 31, 2020 8:49 am

    Locusts also swarm in Pakistan much to the delight of the Pakistanis who munch them down as fast as they can swarm. It’s kind of like a climate change end of the planet scenario for those poor locusts.

    • Curious George permalink
      February 1, 2020 5:50 pm

      Locusts are also helped by a presence of “freedom” fighters.

  20. January 31, 2020 8:55 am

    “Two weeks ago a Boeing 737 on final approach to Dire Dawa, Ethiopia, flew into a massive cloud of locusts swarming above the airport.

    The insects were sucked into the plane’s engines and splattered across the windshield, blinding the pilots to the runway ahead.

    Throttling up to climb above the swarm, the pilot had to depressurize the cabin so he could reach around from the side window and clear the windshield by hand. Diverting to Addis Ababa, the plane was able to land safely.”

    The things they expect you to believe. If it was a small two person non pressurised aircraft this might just be possible. But a Boeing 737 no way. He would have had to have very long arms. The width and height of the 737 body is over 12 feet. If they can tell this bold face lie can one trust the rest of the story.

    • dave permalink
      February 1, 2020 10:00 am

      The picture clearly shows that the windshield is clear on the Captain’s side, exactly where the wiper’s arc is, and obscured elsewhere. The ‘artistic touches’ in this story – the crew doing a second approach only to be thwarted again, desperate cleaning by hand, and so on – are typical of ‘fake news’ embellishment.

      As for the locusts themselves, the Kenyan Minister of Agriculture blames a poor security situation in neighbouring countries for interfering with efforts to control them. He does not mention global warming, or even unusual weather.

      The insane ‘rapture phase’ of the Climate Change religion continues. There is nothing we can do about it.

  21. Peter permalink
    January 31, 2020 11:02 am

    After the locusts comes the plague. Place your bets for the first attribution of coronovirus to climate change.

    • January 31, 2020 11:40 am

      “Place your bets for the first attribution of coronovirus to climate change.”

      i’m sure you’re right about this peter.
      just a matter of time
      all things bad are climate impacts after all

  22. Andrew Savins permalink
    January 31, 2020 12:58 pm

    Maybe my memory is playing up again but I seem to remember reading about the work carried out to clarify whether locusts and grasshoppers are different- and they found that a locust is just a swarming grasshopper (i.e. too many of them in one area). Then they stopped a lot of the locust pest by the use of pesticides at the breeding grounds. It might have been in the Thesiger book mentioned earlier. So they got a grip on this problem many decades ago but now it’s back because of the restricted use of pesticides/DDT… It’s crazy.

  23. MrGrimNasty permalink
    January 31, 2020 7:32 pm

    National Geographic.

    “In 1954, a swarm flew from northwest Africa to Great Britain.”

    (Imagine if that happened today what the BBC/Guardian would say!)

    Africa, Australia, Middle East, Europe swarms throughout history on British Pathe, and of course the Great Plains.

    David AttenBollox and the BBC, when natural events were … natural, and not politics!

  24. It doesn't add up... permalink
    January 31, 2020 9:34 pm

    I see that Claire Perry has bee n sidelined from COP26.

    Presumably Carney is still en poste, and there is a promise to make it a ministerial role. A way to sideline Gove perhaps come the reshuffle. He can go gaga at Greta.

    • Michael Adams permalink
      February 1, 2020 10:14 pm

      Could it be that the penny has dropped for Boris? We know that he converses with Trump and his views on CC are well known. No Climate cabinet meetings? We haven’t actually heard much from Boris on CC except the usual guff about some unspecified general action as our part of the Paris accord but no real passion.

      He can hardly come out and say “Its all Bollocks” so maybe he is hoping that the truth will come out at time passes.

      • Chilli permalink
        February 2, 2020 9:21 pm

        Wishful thinking. Boris name checked ‘tackling climate change’ as one of the new exciting things a post-brexit Britain should focus on (face palm). Not like there’s anything more important they could be doing like sorting out trade deals, immigration, terrorism and handling the corona virus crisis.

  25. JCalvertN permalink
    February 2, 2020 5:17 pm

    Climate change has replaced God.

    Anything that can’t be explained otherwise, is attributed to climate change – until the real explanation is found.

  26. Mack permalink
    February 2, 2020 10:34 pm

    Off topic, chaps & chapesses, but any followers of Paul’s regular doses of common sense in the climate (non) debate will have a chuckle at yesterday’s hilarious, non-paywalled, article by Elizabeth Vaughan at following on from an earlier, paywalled, article in The Times last Friday. It takes the mick out of climate botherering students at St John’s College, Oxford who staged a demonstration to urge the Bursar of the college to disinvest £8 million in shares held by the college in BP & Shell (albeit less than 2% of the college’s total investments). The Bursar politely declined but, in order to assuage the students’ global warming guilt, did offer to turn off the gas fired central heating in their accommodation if it made them feel better about reducing their carbon footprint. Funnily enough, they were horrified at his flippant response, particularly as it’s a bit cold in January. Well guys, if you want to talk the talk, it’s about time you walked the walk…

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