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Explaining Where We Are with Climate Change

Updated on January 26, 2017

Introduction

I have been a climate change skeptic for quite some time. When I read this piece by Scott Adams, I was inspired to create this hub.

- Jan. 2017

Background

Here is the link to Scott's blog "Climate Change and Trump." In his piece, he makes an excellent observation about how the average person cannot evaluate this issue objectively.

As a long time skeptic on climate change and having debated other hubber on this topic here on HubPages, I feel an obligation to explain in more detail my position.

Also, I have no vested interested in this debate either way. I am an engineer by training. I am not being paid by oil companies for my views. My interest in this subject is purely personal. I just want to have "good" science prevail. I don't want out tax dollars wasted on a wild goose chase.

My Observations from the Sideline

Since I am not involved directly in this climate change science, I can only comment from the sideline. I do try to be engaged by reading books, papers and news articles on climate change from both perspective. I am also blessed with the fact thst I am retired and have time on my hand and I live close to a top Scientific School that is studying climate change.

I am able to attend lectures and colloquiums on a periodic basis to learn about latest studies in this field or related fields. Here are my observations in no particular order.

  • Group Think - The phenomenon of group think is real. Studies have been conducted by psychologists that confirm humans are prone to a group mentality even when presented with evidence that are contrary to the majority belief.
  • Funding - The common adage of follow the money is also true. When you have a system where money is allocated by a federal agency that have a certain bias, you can't help but end up with a focus on the hot topic at hand.
  • Bias - Humans and scientists all have bias whether they choose to admit it or not. If you have a bias towards a certain group or a certain philosophy, it is hard to separate that bias and be completely objective.
  • Fear - Michael Crichton wrote a best selling book called "State of Fear" in 2004 and it tells the fictional story of a group of people using fear tactics to gain advantage financially. That is partly what has happened in this arena. Some are using scare tactics to convince the public and our youth that our world is in jeopardy.
  • Environmental Connection - Part of their strategy is to use the environment issue to convince people that this is a real concern and that if you are against their ideology, you are against protecting our environment. It is the same logic that created the false belief that CO2 gas is a pollutant.
  • The UN and IPCC - Another part of the strategy is to use an international organization like the UN to create legitimacy. They are being used as a tool to convince nations that part of the solution is to re-distribute wealth and have wealthy advanced nations pay a tax for 3rd worlds efforts to combat climate change.
  • Models and Projections - Climate Science is based on models. By creating complex mathematical models, we are being told these "experts" know what is going on and will have confidence that the future will be dire if we don't heed their warnings. The problem is these models have been wrong or vastly off in their projections and they are incomplete.
  • Cause and Effect - This is the hardest part of science in my opinion. How to determine if an observation is due to a well defined cause. The AGW theory is clear. They claim increase CO2 emissions by burning of fossil fuels will cause global warming due to the greenhouse effect. However, the data is not so conclusive. The system is much more complex and there are various feedback loops that are both positive and negative. The net effect or even cause is not clear which comes first. Did CO2 cause global warming or did warming of globe from natural cycles cause the CO2 levels to rise? Or a combination of both?
  • Reality set in - After 25 years of climate change, the reality of what we see and measure does not agree with what was projected. That is the killer. It is not to say they were wrong but it does say at minimum that they exaggerated the problem and used fear to get their way. This will not go over well with the public. It is one thing if you tell people that they don't know but they have a suspicion... It is another when they tell peope they are 100% sure and it turned out they were wrong by an order of magnitude. The negative effects of their drastic proposals are real. People are loosing their standards of living, paying for higher energy bills and putting resources towards inefficient technology... The list goes on.

What Can You Do?

As average individuals, what is our role in all this chaos? My advice to all is to try and ask questions of those who are in charge. Attend talks by climate scientists as they present their theory and their technical data. Ask common sense questions and get their response. Be a skeptic and make them convince you of their conviction.

Here are some basic questions:

  • what percent of global warming is due to man made activities?
  • is CO2 a pollutant? that requires regulation.
  • what is the normal variation of temperature before the industrial age?
  • how fast will ocean rise to the projected 20 feet if gobal termperture rises by 2 degrees C?
  • assume we do everything the IPCC proposes, what effect will we see the amount of temperature decrease?
  • why are there 28 different climate models? And they don't agree with each other or with reality.

What is Wrong with the Two Chearts?

The above two charts are plots of global average termperaturss. Can you spot the problem?

A Simple Test Anyone can Perform

Here is a simple experiment anyone can perform at home. Take a block of ice, and placed in a controlled environment like your oven during winter when the outside temperature is below 50 degrees F (assume you have turned off your heating system. See how long it takes this block of ice will melt to all water.

How long did that take?

Now multiply that by a million times... That is how long it will take the polar ice to melt if the Earth's average temperature is raised by 2 degrees C.


A Fresh Look

In summary, I think we do need a "reset" on this whole climate change scientific study. Our priorities in the field of science needs to be re-aligned. We cannot spend most of our research dollars on the study of climate change and expect a result different than what is theorized. We need to let the science research do what it does best and let the chips fall.

Glacier National Park 2017

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    • Rock_nj profile image

      John Coviello 3 months ago from New Jersey

      When I was in college around 1990 and studying global warming, global temperatures had warmed to 0.5 C above the 1880-1920 baseline. As of 2015, global temperatures had warmed to 1.1 C above the 1880-1920 baseline. That's a pretty significant warming over 25 years. Perhaps some of the models were overly zealous and hadn't accounted for the various positive and negative feedbacks properly, but the fact remains that global temperatures have warmed significantly.

      Once 2016 is factored in, it appears the warming will be even more significant. We may be in for a pause for a few years, as the super El Nino has faded, which tends to push global temperatures to peak within a larger warming trend.

      I agree that study of global warming should be balanced and objective, but doing things like turning satellites off and burying our heads in the sand will not make the problem go away. Better to study it with all the resources available and make informed decisions.

      It seems like we are moving towards a cleaner greener energy regime eventually, whether or not concerns like global warming accelerate the shift away from fossil fuels or not.

    • jackclee lm profile image
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      Jack Lee 3 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Rock, I am glad you are in agreement on some level. There are also some scientist who believe the current warming trend is within natural variability of the earth... considering the other planets are also experiencing similar warming over this period.

      No one is asking the community to turn a blind eye. We need to understand this and improve on current climate models before we act.

      Providing solar credits to home owners and electric cars are just two example of government waste of out tax dollars.

    • AshutoshJoshi06 profile image

      Ashutosh Joshi 3 months ago from New Delhi, India

      The way I see it, parallel researchs are increasingly being deployed to propogate the idea of climate change and link it to certain specified factors which more or less impact our day to day lives. Whereas on the other hand governments and certain institutions continue to use environment as guinea pig with weather modification projects, Ionospehere heating, nuclear and other advance weapon testing etc.

      Climate change is a reality and its actually expediting with weather patterns getting extreme and bizzare across the globe. The tectonic movements too have tremendously increased.

    • jackclee lm profile image
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      Jack Lee 3 months ago from Yorktown NY

      joshi, are you sure weather patterns are getting extreme? if yopu go back to history 100 years or so, we've had extreme weathers then...

    • AshutoshJoshi06 profile image

      Ashutosh Joshi 3 months ago from New Delhi, India

      See I am no expert and my source of knowledge is internet or mere observations of events around the globe. Global Warming is something we have been hearing for decades now but we the common masses have not tried to understand the fact that climate change or global warming impact will not be instant phenomena like that depicted in movies, but a gradual one which at some point may become extreme. The pressure on environment is one thing and experimenation is another problem.

      Polar Ice caps are melting faster consequently causing rise in sea levels. NASA says the rate of sea level rise has jumped from 1 millimeter per year 100 years ago to around 3 millimeters per year today. 2014 through 2016 the warmest years on record. Coastal Storms are getting worst. Even from inside, the tectonic shifts are resulting in frequent earthquakes.

      Numbers don't lie, and even if they are being deliberately fudged to create a fear psychosis, it still doesn't change the reality!

    • jackclee lm profile image
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      Jack Lee 3 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Yes, but scientist cannot tell us how long it will take the polar caps to melt... I have pose the question to one expert and she said she doesn't have a clue. She has studied past ice ages and determine the correlation between temperature and sea level in actual amounts but she can't tell how long it took the event to happen. My point is, if it is a decade or so, it would be catastrophic, if it takes hundred years, we have time to mitigate, if it is on the order of 1000 years, then it is a non issue as far as rising levels of sea levels is concerned. A lot of other factors come into play and the rising oceans is not a key point.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 3 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      This is an interesting discussion on a topic about which I've pretty much formed an opinion. But we need to be open to new information and consider its implications.

      Most of the questions you asked have answers readily available from both sides. So the question remains: Which side is right?

      I agree with the comment that, climate change aside, much good for the environment and our general health has come out of this debate. Very much like all the advances in technology that came out of the race to put a man on the moon. We haven't repeated that effort in 45 years, but the technology is still useful.

    • jackclee lm profile image
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      Jack Lee 3 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Not really, I have attended talks and ask these very questions and have not received satisfactory responses. I can point to my extensive hub on this debate with doc_snow. If you scroll down to the bottom, you will fine two examples of my attendance at the Lamont Dogherty Observatory.

      Here is the link -

      https://hubpages.com/education/Climate-Change-Pred...

    • AshutoshJoshi06 profile image

      Ashutosh Joshi 3 months ago from New Delhi, India

      What's your take on Paris Climate Agreement? If it is to be religiously implemented with sringent norms and probably mapped for a decade or so, would it then not be possible to validate and in fact ascertain the Co2 impact on Global Warming?

    • jackclee lm profile image
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      Jack Lee 3 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Joshi, the Paris accord is toothless. It is only a guideline and not enforcible. Even climate scientists like Hansen, thought it was a failure. In either case, my contention is, in a few short years, the reality of global temperature will determine the future of climate change. What I mean by that is this. If in 5 years, the average global temperature does not go up as projected by the various climate model, it will put in question the reliability of their scientific models.

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 3 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA

      My comments remain as in the thread Jack linked above, so I won't go through all of that again. However, I will reiterate that the idea that the models are not consistent with observed temperature trends is wrong. See this update from last August, for example:

      http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2016...

    • jackclee lm profile image
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      Jack Lee 3 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, welcome back. It will take me sometime to review your links. Get back to you soon...

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 3 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA

      Jack, I also want to respond to your question:

      "...why are there 28 different climate models?"

      The short answer is, because there are that many research groups who have research questions needing models to address them, and who can come up with the necessary funding. Metaphorically, each worker needs his or her own hammer.

      As to why they are different, I think I know where you are coming from on this: you're keeping the ideal in mind, the one model that replicates the state of the Earth system with near-perfection. Other models are just inferior, so why bother?

      But the reality is that, while models are amazing and useful, and have come a very long way over the last 40-plus years, they are still developing. That's not a condemnatory statement; after all, we've been building automobiles for more than 3 times as long, and none of them are 'perfect' either.

      So at present, various models have different strengths: one may simulate global temperature trajectory the best, while another exhibits the most realistic El Nino cycles, and a third gives the best insight on stratospheric water vapor. And it may not be obvious which of these three 'contenders' is the best candidate for further developmental work. Which 'strength' is most important? And isn't that a function of what one wants to find out? To go back to the carpentry metaphor, some hammers are different because they are meant for particular tasks.

      On top of all that, don't forget that climate models are custom-built, not manufactured. Though a lot of code is shared and there are 'genealogies' of models, there is no such thing as just buying a turn-key climate model and turning it on. And one of the constraints is practical: the more comprehensive a model is, and the finer its resolution, the more expensive it is to acquire, run and maintain. So some models are deliberately made to be less complex but more economical--for example, the class of 'EMICs', or 'Earth Models Of Intermediate Complexity'. The University of Victoria, in Canada, has done quite a lot of interesting work with their EMIC. (And by the way, EMICs wouldn't be counted among your '28'.)

      I could go on, but don't wish to tire. For those intetested, though, a great book on models and modeling is 'A Vast Machine', by Paul Edwards. Highly recommended.

    • jackclee lm profile image
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      Jack Lee 3 months ago from Yorktown NY

      doc, I do understand about models too well. They are full of flaws and assumptions and tweaks... That has been my complaint all along. Especially when they seem to err on the high side of things. Why don't these groups work together to get a more perfect model that actually takes everything into account? What a novel idea? They certainly received enough funding over the years... If I build a model (I did computer simulations in my early career at IBM), and it did not perform well, I would go back and find out why. Is that crazy?

    • jackclee lm profile image
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      Jack Lee 3 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Here is one example of what I mean. Last year, when the debate about the pause of rising temperature was going on, some scientist suggest the reason we have not seen the rise in global temperature as expected is due to the fact the heat is being hidden in the oceans. If that is the case, then why is that fact not part of the model in the first place? Either they are making excuses after the fact or the original model is incomplete, which is it?

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 3 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA

      "Why don't these groups work together to get a more perfect model that actually takes everything into account..."

      Jack, I've already answered this one to the best of my ability, and a couple of times at that. The short answer is that like anything else, it takes time to develop the technology. But why don't you pick up a copy of the book on Amazon? You'll enjoy it, I bet, and it answers your question much more fully than I can.

      "Last year, when the debate about the pause of rising temperature was going on, some scientist suggest the reason we have not seen the rise in global temperature as expected is due to the fact the heat is being hidden in the oceans. If that is the case, then why is that fact not part of the model in the first place?"

      What makes you think that it is easy, or even possible, to model complex modes of oceanic variability a priori? There is a reason that they call such things 'scientific discovery.' Someone has to be first to find out. Confirming his idea would involve modeling it--and maybe some day the structure of that model will indeed be incorporated into GCMs.

      "Either they are making excuses after the fact or the original model is incomplete, which is it?"

      Of course *all* models are incomplete. Fundamentally, if they weren't incomplete, they wouldn't be 'models'--they'd be the reality, if instantiated a bit differently. And if we could manipulate reality any way we wished, we wouldn't need models.

      More incidentally, model incompleteness is why they have been expanding them by orders of magnitude, just as fast as hardware and software engineers have been able to give them the tools to do so. In fact, the incompleteness and imperfections of models in general is a truism--but so is the fact that they are frequently quite useful anyway.

    • jackclee lm profile image
      Author

      Jack Lee 3 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, I guess we are not that off in this area. I contend the models are incomplete and unreliable. You on the other hand say the models are work in progress and we are getting better every year... Our difference lies in the degree we are confident of the model's projections. I estimate the models are say 50% reliable and you think it is closer to 80-90%, am I close?

      If so, why not take the time needed to perfect it before making drastic measures and proposals?

      While we are speaking, our sun is at a very quite period with many days without sunspots. It is unusual in our regular cycle. Can you assure me that these various climate models took this into account?

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 3 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA

      There are many relevant metrics for model skill, so I don't think assigning an undefined and subjective numeral is particularly helpful.

      Again, what we are doing now IS "drastic". Its familiarity may obscure that fact, but it's objectively so. Don't be lulled.

    • jackclee lm profile image
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      Jack Lee 3 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, that is another difference between you and me. You are not interested in percentages and I am all about percentage. If someone tell me I am 97% sure about something, my antenna is raised. If someone tells me they are only 50% sure I am more likely to listen. This by the way applies only to theories. For something that is provable, then it better be 100% or else you would be a total flake. When climate scientists paint the skeptics as similar to flat earth society, they are being dishonest. I can disagree with AGW theory because it is only a theory and not a fact.

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 3 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA

      I am very interested in percentages. However, percentages of *what*, exactly? How would you define 'reliability'--skill in forecasting global mean temperature, in reproducing ENSO patterns, in faithfully reflecting the observed increase in atmospheric water vapor, or another of the many other possible metrics? Just picking a number by some intuitive, undefined process isn't truly quantitative.

      "When climate scientists paint the skeptics as similar to flat earth society, they are being dishonest."

      It depends on the skeptic, doesn't it? Roy Spencer probably doesn't belong with the Flat Earthers. But some others I've encountered do, because they are saying things that are just demonstrably untrue. (Eg., "There has been no warming for the last 18 years.")

    • jackclee lm profile image
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      Jack Lee 3 months ago from Yorktown NY

      So why do the climate scientists and people like Al Gore use this tactic of mentioning flat earth...? Why can't they win their arguments by debating skeptics? Why do they belittle people who wants to ask questions and advance our knowledge? Why are they so leen on shutting down discussion? I hope you see my points. I don't engage in the same tactics.

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 3 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA

      Jack, you may not use such tactics, but I can assure you that there is no shortage of folks who do. (If you think back, you should be able to identify a few WUWT posts that fall within the realm of denying established fact.)

      "Why can't they win their arguments by debating skeptics?"

      They can and do. However, it's a pointless exercise because most 'skeptics' just move the goalposts. Many scientists have therefore decided that it's a pure waste of time to do these 'debates', and confine their debating to the scientific literature, where the concern is actually to arrive at the truth.

      "Why do they belittle people who wants to ask questions and advance our knowledge?"

      I don't think they do, for the most part. People who ask serious questions and actually listen to the answers are in my experience usually afforded lots of positive time and attention. An example would be the cosmic ray hypothesis we looked at, and which was investigated by CERN. Svensmark was provocative and needlessly antagonistic to mainstream climate science, but his ideas were investigated nonetheless. He was wrong about climate, but useful new knowledge was uncovered anyway.

      " Why are they so keen on shutting down discussion?"

      I think there are a couple of different things going on here. One is that I don't think scientists want to "shut down discussion"; I see them as generally reveling in discussion because it's intellectually highly stimulating. However, they do not like *pointless* discussion, in which some troll who doesn't know his stuff pops up with a half-baked 'gotcha' point which takes forever to clarify because volumes of basic information have to be explained at tedious length just to get at the misconception. And while critiquing basic points is useful in principle, it tends to get very, very overdone in the climate realm today. Most scientists would rather be working where something new can actually be uncovered.

      Finally, in the policy realm, there are highly important and practical reasons that debate cannot be allowed to substitute for action. We are, as a species, doing something very 'drastic' to our world (to use your word), and very good and very well-developed information says that we need to take action to change our trajectory if we wish to serve our own best interests. We've been very slow to act, and this is posing increasingly significant risks to society. That's not a scientific question per se, but scientists are also citizens, and they have the right to speak--and, some would argue, a duty to do so as well. Perhaps it would be fair to say that it is not about 'shutting down' debate, but moving it along.

    • jackclee lm profile image
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      Jack Lee 3 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, thanks for the well thought out response. I will consider it when I go to my future talks. So far, I have only participated in the Q/A session at the end. I will consider staying behind and engage in a one to one discussion with the speaker. I hope you realize that I am not the opposition. I am trying to get at the truth and challenge conventional beliefs mainly because they have been off. You and I may disagree on the degree but you have to admit that the science is not so solid and complete. This is complicated stuff and require more studies and cost benefit analysis... There is no one size fit all solution.

    • jackclee lm profile image
      Author

      Jack Lee 3 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, thanks for the well thought out response. I will consider it when I go to my future talks. So far, I have only participated in the Q/A session at the end. I will consider staying behind and engage in a one to one discussion with the speaker. I hope you realize that I am not the opposition. I am trying to get at the truth and challenge conventional beliefs mainly because they have been off. You and I may disagree on the degree but you have to admit that the science is not so solid and complete. This is complicated stuff and require more studies and cost benefit analysis... There is no one size fit all solution.

    • jackclee lm profile image
      Author

      Jack Lee 3 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, I added two temperature plots above. Can you explain the differences?

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 3 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA

      Yes, I can. The most fundamental difference is that despite the similar units, they do not, in fact, measure the same thing. The upper graph shows the 'instrumental record'--ie., the 2-meter air temperature recorded by thousands of weather station thermometers around the world. The lower is satellite data, as interpreted by the UAH algorithm. What it actually measures is the microwave "radiance brightness" of a wide swathe of atmosphere. They use clever comparisons of readings at different angles and such to infer what temperatures are at various altitude bands. Bottom line: satellite data (UAH or RSS) gives you anomalies for several kilometers worth of atmosphere. As such, its far more volatile than the instrumental data. In particular, ENSO cycles have a big impact on it.

      There's a secondary issue as well, which is the different time scales on the graphs. To a degree, you can compensate with imagination, but only to a degree. Over decadal time scales, there's actually fairly decent agreement between instrumental and satellite records. (Your lower graph doesn't give the whole sat record, just since 1998, which gives a misleading impression because of the extremely strong El Nino that year.)

      This graph isn't a perfect illustration, not least because it too only goes from 1998, and isn't fully updated for various reasons. (At some point, I'll redo it from scratch with the current versions of the various data sets.) But it does indicate the similarities and differences between the instrumental and satellite data sets.

      http://i1108.photobucket.com/albums/h402/brassdoc/...

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 3 months ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA

      Jack, this is my latest. I'm quite sure you won't agree with the content, but perhaps you'd like to check the Hub out anyway?

      https://soapboxie.com/social-issues/Dear-Friends-T...

    • Rock_nj profile image

      John Coviello 3 months ago from New Jersey

      There are reports that the Trump Administration is taking down the EPA's Climate Change webpage that contains data links and links to research and articles about climate change (aka global warming). The "bury your head in the sand" approach, as I mentioned previously.

    • jackclee lm profile image
      Author

      Jack Lee 3 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Rock,

      That is a good thing. The EPA should keep to its main mandate of environmental protection. Climate changes not the job of the EPA or of NASA. the NOAA is the agency that should address Climate Change.Why should we have all these alphabet agencies if they are to overlap and work on the same things?

    • jackclee lm profile image
      Author

      Jack Lee 3 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, what do you make of this story -

      http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/06/09...

      My friend just went there for vacation. He sent me some great photos of these glaciers.

    • jackclee lm profile image
      Author

      Jack Lee 3 months ago from Yorktown NY

      I added one photo of glacier national park in 2017, does this look like they are going to disappear anytime soon?

    • jackclee lm profile image
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      Jack Lee 2 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, here is another article on sea rise in Hawaii you may find interesting -

      http://www.c3headlines.com/2013/03/global-warming-...

    • jackclee lm profile image
      Author

      Jack Lee 2 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Doc, here is a shocking statement from an UN official -

      http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02-03/un-offici...

    • jackclee lm profile image
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      Jack Lee 2 months ago from Yorktown NY

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