Bold Science: Seven Scientists Who Are Changing Our World

#IWD: Be bold for STEM change
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Their skepticism about global warming accompanies skepticism about biodiversity, toxic waste, plastic in the oceans, and virtually every other environmental issue. Those enviros and greenies hate progress and are concocting issues like global warming as a way to implement their agenda of totalitarian socialist world government. In most polarized debates, evolutionary truths are revealed by questioning the tacit agreements that both sides share.

In this case, both sides agree to stage the fight on the matters of greenhouse gases and temperature. This agreement sucks the oxygen out of the room for any other issue. It also usurps the other, non-climate reasons for opposing things like fracking or pipelines — reasons that do not require adherence to a highly politicized and hard-to-prove scientific theory. At one point I realized that every practice that one might oppose on climate grounds, I oppose for other reasons too. Pipelines leak oil and gas, tar sands excavation destroys entire landscapes, fracking contaminates groundwater, coal burning emits harmful pollutants, offshore oil drilling creates horrible oil spills.

Even if global warming were a hoax, I would want to curtail them all. It is to consider, in conducting any human activity, how we affect the beings and places where we act. Marine biologists are there performing lavage on the chicks to wash plastic from their stomachs, often hundreds of pieces of it, that is preventing them from absorbing nutrition.

The chicks are starving. I can think of no convincing argument that these painstaking efforts will mitigate climate change or bring any quantifiable benefit to humanity. It seemed obvious to me that they are rendering Earth and humanity an important service. Who can say through what mysterious causal pathways their work will bear its impact? Who can say how the morphic field of care they stand in will propagate? The skeptics accuse environmentalists of caring more about seabirds, whales, and spotted owls than about people.

In the end, this objection can only stand in a mindset of separation that sees human wellbeing as separable from that of all beings. The Story of Separation says: What happens to nature need not affect ourselves. I subscribe to a story which says the contrary: that self and other, human and nature, inner and outer, are not really separate. That everything that happens to the world happens, in some manner, to ourselves as well.

That with every extinction, something dies in us. That with loss of biodiversity comes cultural and spiritual poverty. That environmental pollution inevitably coincides with the spread of moral, mental, physical, social, and spiritual poisons. Besides, are we really benefiting from all that plastic? Are we happier than our grandparents for having plastic bags rather than cloth, plastic bottles rather than refillable glass, plastic drinking straws rather than paper?

For that matter, is it so bad to walk barefoot? Is it so bad to be without cars, cheap air travel, broadband, air conditioning, abundant consumer goods, convenience foods, and cheap throwaway stuff? In the context of the current society built around these things, it is hard to be without them. If we take cars for granted, it is progress to have a nicer one. If we take roads for granted, it is progress to have a wider one.

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If we rely on digital communication devices, it is progress to have a faster one. The houses are built for air conditioning. The towns are built for cars. The pressures of life demand conveniences and time-saving technology. Exercising different choices as an individual consumer is not the whole answer. We need to explore forms of development and economy in which humans thrive without extracting more and more from the world. The specter of global warming asks us to rethink the direction of civilization and the human relationship to Earth.

No wonder many people want to deny it is happening. My point here — actually, my plea — is that whether or not it is happening, still, let us rethink the direction of civilization. Let us change our relationship to Earth. Let us explore a different conception of wealth, measured in relationships, not products, participation and not extraction. My fear is that a cooling trend will abort that inquiry. My fear is that it will quell what the idea of climate change has awakened: the disturbing realization of the mutual dependency of human and natural wellbeing.

My fear is that it will sabotage our awareness that the welfare of the soil, the insects, the trees, and the whales, is our wealth too. It may not be the kind of wealth visible in GDP statistics. It may not register as an increase in kilowatt-hours of power consumed per capita, or miles driven or megabytes downloaded, or any of the other things we normally measure and count.

I think we already have enough of the quantifiable although it is poorly distributed, a separate though deeply related issue. What we need more of are the things that are hard to quantify. The rising tide of suicide and depression in the developed world is not caused by shrinking residential floor space or lack of access to 4G cell service.

In the busy world of cars and clocks and screens, faster and more of them seems like progress. The richness of life around me enriches my own experience of life. That is the realization of non-separation. It is also the fundamental realization of ecology. In my book research, I confirmed again and again that climate science has, over the years, consistently underestimated the effect of biology on climate. While appreciation of carbon sequestration by forests and other ecosystems has grown, a covert geomechanical bias holds sway, seeing life as a hostage to random or manmade fluctuations in atmospheric components.


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A rival view, which I call the living planet view, holds that fundamentally it is life itself that maintains the conditions for life. Accordingly, the depletion of life is the biggest threat to the climate and the biosphere generally. Unless we stop degrading ecosystems, clearcutting forests, draining wetlands, decimating fish and land vertebrates, and dousing the land with insecticides, then even if we cut carbon emissions to zero, the planet will still die a death of a million cuts. There is indeed a horrifying crisis underway — and cooling will not signify that it has abated.

In the last ten years, science has gained a new appreciation of the ways living beings and systems affect temperature, weather, and climate. Whales transport nutrients from the depths to the surface, and from nutrient-rich feeding grounds to nutrient-poor birthing areas, allowing life to thrive there and ultimately affecting carbon sequestration.

Healthy soils, grasslands, and wetlands absorb water that would otherwise run off, buffering against flooding also blamed on climate change and recharging aquifers that feed springs that nourish life through the dry season. A healthy climate comes from a healthy biosphere. Gauging health by temperature alone obscures this truth. In the living planet view, no longer can we cut down a virgin forest here and offset the carbon with a tree farm there.

No longer can we blithely assume that some ecosystems or species are expendable. Because they are the organs and tissues of a living Earth. Will the planet warm or cool? I have no idea. Over my years of book research, I became less confident, not more, of the inevitability of greenhouse-gas-induced warming. Slowly, cracks are spreading in the dominant narrative. We could very well see cooling, or warming, or even both — worsening gyrations like a top spinning out, like an animal with organ failure that can no longer regulate its body temperature.

Wild fluctuations in temperature and precipitation are inevitable as the living systems that maintain homeostasis lose their vitality.

Regardless of whether the planet warms or cools, the things we need to do to maintain ecological health are the same. The key words are conservation, protection, regeneration, and repair. Conserving forests, stopping pipelines, repairing ecosystems, regenerating agricultural soils, and so on will, as a side effect, reduce greenhouse emissions and increase biotic carbon uptake. But they do not rely on that result for their motivation. The motivation is to serve the flourishing of life — biological and human.

This commitment should not depend on the trend in global temperature. Perhaps for the earth to flourish we should think about the trillions of fish and animals we are killing to fill our stomachs. Methane is denser and more poisonous than CO2 and yet we continue to farm animals unnecessarily.

Saving the Earth is not about saving humans. How willing are we to take the steps needed to stop using the yardstick of humanness to measure the worth of something, to show true compassion to all. What are we really willing to do or give up? Lia — I personally want my children to live in a world of peace and harmony. The torture and murder of captive and raped animals is horrifying. If you truly feel called to hunt and sacrifice an animals for your family, then so be it. But there is no necessity in that effort. Look to the Hadza.

Meat-eaters but very rarely. Meat if WE can catch it ourselves…. There will be a massive human die off soon due to famine and disease. Every Grand Solar Minimum this has happened. Our industrial society and machine operated farms are not a modern remedy for the inevitable, but rather a further liability.

In our lifetimes we will see a significant population reduction. By and large, we are generally only thinking of the future of humankind when we talk about saving the world. WhT a brilliant and seemingly well researched article. At some time however the elephant in the room called polulation must be exposed and debated. Rampant increases in third world countries spilling out into western culture cannot be allowed to go on unchecked. Surely we all including conservatives and greenies alike must unite to help these nations dramatically cut their populations and assist them materially raise their living standards whilst this is being achieved.

Population generally must be reduced and whilst we are doing that a concentrated effort must get underway to clean up the planet with emphasis on the worlds oceans. Surely population of more than sixty million in a country the size of the UK is unsustainable pointing out not just third world countries need to do something now. China, India etc etc are just more examples and there are doubtless more.. Sadly human nature being what is is I sincerely doubt anyone is listening.

If they were and population was reduced by half over time by natural means then in a couple of hundred years people of the planet could live in harmony with all earths creatures with blue skies and clear plentiful running water. Unfortunately the corporate society of or so corporations who do all the polluting will not stop as the governments we elect sponsor them to do it. What we are witnessing is the weakness of the democratic system we have created.

We want to keep the goodies provided by industrial overkill while preserving ecology too, and human minds will exercise every psychological trick to convince us that somehow this is possible, and that we are sane. So if we just fix one or two problems, the system of growth can keep going. Once a month I host a teleconference group of people deeply interested in this problem.

Interested in joining? Charles, I think you have a great idea, but are you aware of how many dozens of others, in one way or another, have tried the same thing, with complete failure as a result? I believe that somewhere implicit in your assumptions is lurking a false equivalence. There are different views, but there are also motivated, delusional views.

To experience a aseemingly hopeless understatement situation reverse itself, turned out to be quite a privledge for me. Yet the parrallels are endless. The feeling of addicts that they have tried SO much SO long IS the seemingly hopeless situation, and there is a long hell where that is a self fullfilling prophecy..

Charles does it eloquently. Step 1 would be admitting that Life is in denial about being One, and that the game of playing as separate selves managing themsellves and each other has come to show the inherent unmanageabilty underneath it. The separate self will testify to the immpossibilities. Thank you for speaking to the real problem: the idea we cling to that we are NOT One and therefore, our separate and competing interests are the issue. True healing requires a shift from the material world to this essential truth.

We think we can think our way through our egoic trance whereas we need to see our investment in the trance and realize what it is costing us. Then, and only then can we consider the alternative of acknowledging our shared interests both for selfishness and selflessness and the power to make a better choice in this moment. Absolutely right on! All of it. Again, for me, it is easily the most important writing I have been exposed to on the macriscopic earth issues facing us today,.

Your words so accurately and eloquently communicate what many in the movement for life are trying to describe. May many people far and wide read this essay. Whether our species has a week, a year, a decade, or a century remaining, let us act in the service of Life and Truth. Thank you Charles — may I offer you the representations I have been asked to put into print, which might be regarded as being in parallel or complementary to your work.

Hello Charles. Certainly appreciate you speaking up about issues. Well said, as always. Thank you. What is needed for survival? We take way too much for granted. I go into the topic in depth in the upcoming book however. One question and one comment: 1. How is an evolutionary truth distinct from any other truth or fact? Maybe we need to de-stigmatize suicide and make it easier to access methods for assisted suicide, even for the non-terminally ill. That may conflict with your assertion that the depletion of life is the biggest threat to the climate and the biosphere.

By the way, this is not a sarcastic comment. I truly wonder if more volition about continuing or ceasing our own destructive lives needs to be part of repairing the system. I see your voice as crucially important for our times, generally. And I agree with the basics of your Living Planet View.

But I think you are also dangerously wrong in your overview assessment of the best available climate science. Anthropogenic climate change global warming , resulting primarily from increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations, is undoubtedly at least as great a risk and ongoing catastrophe as all of the other items you listed as violations to biospheric health. That these risks and catastrophes are intertwined and mutually self-reinforcing is also true.

And thanks for doing that! As you are well aware, there has been a decades long, well-funded by the fossil fuel industry effort to raise doubts about the scientific consensus in climate science. The counter-consensus links you provided above are either directly or indirectly implicated in this fossil-funded effort to misinform and disinform the public, so as to perpetuate the notion that the consensus is on shaky ground.

Scientific results and studies are deliberately misrepresented by these people in order to dissuade us from taking the consensus as seriously as it should be.


That said, you are completely right to encourage us to take care of Earth everywhere, in every detail, and not to neglect all other environmental and ecological concerns. All things are intertwined and interconnected. Those words are synonyms, I know, but for emphasis I will use both! To address the very real climate crisis, we must nurture life everywhere, just as you say. James speaks my mind exactly. I believe that your voice about the need to see our interbeing and act with reverance for the precious life and life-support systems of our Living Planet regardless of climate change is very important.

Indeed our failure to do so is what has led to the climate crisis in the first place. Or would you defer to non-tabacco industry scientists who have studied the evidence in depth? The point is that its life support systems are under severe threat. By doing so you undermine the crediblity of others in the movement to preserve the life-support systems of our one and only Planet Earth. But you see how far those arguments have moved the needle to date. Thanks James, I fully agree with your point. One just has to google the name of the climate denier that Charles cites at the beginning of his post to see that he has not hesitated to lie and cheat, almost certainly, as you write, paid to do so… e.

I find it highly frustrating to still have to argue that climate change is taking place when the genuine evidence is so overwhelming! And yes of course all things are interconnected and we must nurture life everywhere. Now the planet is on fire. I think these criticisms might be missing the deeper strategy here. Essentially what I am trying to do is unlock a stuck debate. So the more science, the more IPCC assessments we have, the more the evidence accumulates, the less concerned the public is.

To the rational mind this is a complete mystery. Obviously something is not working for the environmental movement. The carnage over the last 25 years has accelerated.

Not quite all aboard

I am not ignoring you. I am trying to evade the polarizing lens that, if applied, would mean instant dismissal from climate-doubting readers. I think I can engage environmental interest in people who doubt climate change. This is something I realized when a friend, a prominent environmental crusader, with huge publicity convened a climate meeting in his city and almost no one came except for a few Unitarians from his church. However, I do think we have a difference of opinion that goes beyond strategy and rhetoric.

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I believe that while greenhouse gases add further stress to an already severely challenged system, the fundamental problem is direct ecosystem degradation e. However, there are other things that the greenhouse view supports that I think will worsen the problem. Such as geoengineering via sulfur aerosols. Such as massive biofuels plantations. Such as big hydro. Of course, ecosystem degradation and climatic change are mutually reinforcing.

Nonetheless, a lot of things that we blame reflexively on climate change are actually attributable to other forms of ecocide. It is to engage another narrative frame for the environmental crisis. Climate change or no, there are good reasons to conserve forests, soil, wetlands, etc. Finally, I also hold to the other point of the essay.

We could be wrong about warming. Or if we are right, a long-term warming trend could be temporarily overridden by solar fluctuations or other natural factors, making it appear we are wrong. Warming is a dangerous horse to hitch the environmental wagon to. Anyway, I do go much more deeply into these issues in the book. Solar fluctuations? Straight out of the climate denial text-books. All of your other points about need to love our living planet, and our local ecosystems, are spot on.

But you have created a total straw man, in your supposition that people who care about climate issues do not care equally as much about ecological issues. You are really not helping the discussion going forward by suggesting that the climate denial arguments have equal weight with the climate science. Thank you very much. I pray your wisdom spreads far and wide. Actions following, also far and wide! I jumped into the Climate Change aspect a little over a year ago.

Little did I know how much it would twine with reclaiming my soul. If reality is an agreed upon construct, then as people, like myself, no longer focus attention on the issue, it ceases to exist. The bigger tacit agreement is that human life should continue. If one comes to the conclusion that humans are a virus to the loving planet then their eradication is a good thing. And if reality is an agreed upon construct, then as more people participate in this world view, the more it becomes a reality. I have found peace in not thinking about anything beyond the here and now.

Wishing for each days continued existence. But there was a time when I focused on humans finding purposed in evolving into something like the nervous system of the living planet at a different facile scale. But reality is an agreed upon construct, and too many visualize death and destruction. So it must be.

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Really welcome this, Charles. I have been suffering from confusion about what is really happening on global warning etc.

We are it. Many thanks. Thank you Charles. I so enjoy, or should I say appreciate, your thoughts and insights. Of course you are correct. We are connected and linked to all life systems, and it is our separation, alienation and false notions of self-sufficiency that must me upended, transformed and regenerated if we are to love our way into a new epoch. I doubt that you are the same Kevin Anderson that I admire so much for taking personally much action against climate change? Kevin is a UK top climate expert who has for a long time now refused to fly — so attends conferences by train, boat — or skype — only?

He is also on Twitter etc…. I trust your UK top climate scientist has also changed his eating. If one really believed that global warming is threatening humanity and the entire ecosystem as I do, while also believing that Charles grasps the far bigger picture , then the first thing one would do would be to eat at least vegetarian, if not vegan. Thank you Newton!! Eating vegan is easy, delicious, good for you, and good for the evironment.

I wish I knew sooner!! A beautiful and unifying article. Thank you, Charles! For your eloquence, your insightfulness and your spirit of collaboration with all things of this world. You describe it so well. The fullness of how we can make real changes, if life forms and a living planet are important to us.

My fear is that life ecology, is no concern to those who drive their big cars, wear fancy shoes and talk about things, rather than walk barefoot collecting their breakfast from their family farm and share life with birds and bees, brothers and daughters, in laws and a few outcasts. Thank you for your bold and brave conviction to changing our minds and planting seeds for a new model. If only we can abandon this death cult and embrace the living world around us will all be well. It really is easy to say no to all that cultural baggage.

Trying to convince others is the difficult part. Just as is true of allopathic medicine, the strongly prevailing emphasis in our current cultural paradigm is on treating symptoms, rather than addressing their multiple root causes, most of which are lifestyle- related. May this exceedingly wise and compassionate essay be a powerful wake-up call to all who abide in ignorance.

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I will do all I can to share it with others. Yes, and, complexifying the issue in regard to climate change, at this very moment, may be the final straw in overwhelming the masses ability to understand the simplest principles of climate science and ecology. The difference between the celebrated guru and the hung man is that the guru knew who to share his ideas with and the hung man tried to share it with everyone thank you Stan Grof. What can one person do??

Just 1 make compost — 2 plant something — 3 pee on the ground. I thank you for this, Charles. You are digging underneath the climate change issue to reveal the essence of the breakdown: the loss of our sacred connection to the whole of life. We are using and abusing like an addict with no awareness of our relationships or the consequences. I love the way you express through the written word. So easy to interpret, thank you for your efforts…. Your treatises regrading climate change and preserving the ecology of a healthy earth is the best I have read.

I think many others will agree with your POV. IN these pieces most of the time I a missing the: so what shall we do? What is to be done? Stop everything? Stop something? And what not? And why? Another aspect I am missing is that of healing ourselves. We are the planet too. We have been wounded and exploited and driven half insane by some of our fellow human beings. We, many of us, still go to work most days and by working for those entities who do harm, we do harm too.

To ourselves and the planet — for we are the planet too; But what are we to do? Walk out and live in the forests? Back to the land? If not that, then what? We have been on the land once upon a time, and from there we got to here. Who says that going back to that point is going to be different this time? I thinkone of the reasons why not much is being done by large numbers of peopoe and entitites, or not nearly enough, is because nobody knows what to do.

What do you think? And how to get there?

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I mean, life in the industrialised world is pretty cushy, I would say. There is fashion even for pets, accessories, consumer choice. Holidays and trips, high tech bicycles, self driving cars, electrical trucks, planes to fly anywhere we want. Ready made food, desserts and icecreams, burgers and salads, chocolate and coffee, biscuits and sugar, cigarettes and joints.

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Tens of thousands of items in supermarkets, everything seemingly available most of the time. So… life is… excuse my saying so, pretty good for a lot of people. So… in order to serve lif with which I agree completely e, what do we do with all of that? Remember, it is not just that we can buy it all, it is also that we work to produce it all, sell it, serve it, provide it. It pays for our electricity bills whether green or not , it pays for our houses and clothes, our bills, our education and even our blogs.

So… how do we get out of here, or do we want to get out of here at all? And where do we go to next? It is easy to say… oh, we just need love… Sure. It may be the case. But … what do we do actually in practical day to day life? What to abandon, and what to embrace. I have thought about it a lot.

The only place I arrived at that remained stable no matter how much I questioned it is: traceless economy. Produce whatever you want, go whereever you want, do what you must, but leave no trace behind. No trace at all. Every industry, every effort, every activity needs to go in that direction.

No trace when eating, or sleeping, or brushing your teeth. This applies espeially to research within rich entities for example Amazon — I can see a lot of imaginative thinking there, so they have the brain power. They have the money. They need to lead the way. And all media outlets, thnkers, artists, film makers, photographers, scientists need to dedicate themselves to these subjects.

Lots of discussion of all these things in the book. But I think that the living planet view naturally suggests a lot of on-the-ground actions. It is healing on every level, from the inner to the social to the land-based…. Thank you for this wonderful essay. I am writing my next book about the connection between physical health, emotional health and a healthy ecosystem.

Whether by accident or design, humanity has created a system that is failing to meet our authentic needs or the needs of Mother Earth. Every one of us has to decide whether we are consumers or stewards. Are we here to destroy Nature to satisfy our conditioned cravings, or are we here to care for ourselves, each other and our beautiful planet.

Earth may be the only source of life in our universe, and we have been given the gift of life to experience its wonder. So what are we going to do with this precious gift? I appreciate and agree to a point that the fundamental problem of contemporary life is our deep disconnect and blatant disregard for all of nature — the birds and bees, the whales and flowers, the oceans and trees, all that lives and breathes and sustains us.

Global warming is merely a symptom. But I would argue that an even more fundamental problem is our deep disconnect and blatant disregard for our dear selves, the heart and soul of us, and , so, our disconnect from our beloved brothers and sisters here on Mother Earth. May we all be called to do what it takes to wake up to our innate perfection, one or more of us at a time.

As we do, we will come to understand that what we do for the earth and for each other we do for ourselves. Great essay. Everything connects. Think abortion. The real concern or the genuine awakening process gets hijacked. This seems to have happened, to some extent, to both of the polarized sides of the so-called climate debate.

An actual dialogue which includes openness to additional facts, new experience, and alternative viewpoints turns into a debate of dueling ideologies. And ideologies tend to dig their heels into their rigid points of view, to the point that defending the ideology becomes the main goal, replacing any real discussion of the initial concern or awakening thought process with endless attempts to make the other side look bad and anybody not on your side of the ideological fence is considered to be someone from the other side while trying to make your ideological side look good.

Any attempts at growing or at an expansion of awareness comes to a halt. Whereas the original concerning issue often stimulated by the heart or the awakening thought process of the spirit seems to die a slow or sudden death, and almost becomes a forgotten memory consumed by the dominance and firming up of the ideology. And the result is stuckness of thought and the diminishing of empathy. Which can often lead to violence of language and action. Which tends to have a powerful and fear-inducing pull to one side or the other.

To hang out somewhere in the vast middle where you can have a wider and freer view, movement, and experience is a tough place to be without coming under some type of assault from the extremes. I agree with these insights. Our culture is under the influence of a dualistic meta-program that has us quickly take sides and believe that the problem will be solved by defeating the other side. It is war mentality. Sometimes, that mentality is useful and true, but rarely. We apply it to nearly everything.

In the climate debate, each side says that the other is not even worth listening too. Now I think there is a shred of truth, or more than a shred, in both critiques. Yes, there are powerful financial interests who have a vested interest in denying the dangers of greenhouse gases. But my point is not that the two sides are equivalent. My point is that we need to change the conversation, disarm th polarization, and unearth the hidden assumptions that both sides share.

Wise words. Julia-Miguel R. Thank you for putting it so beautifully into words! Within a few years, researchers will identify each of the millions of units in the human genome. Much of the credit for that accomplishment must go to geneticist Craig Venter, who assembled the technology to sequence 25 genes per day—a spectacular improvement over the tedious lab work that preceded it. Astronomer Geoffrey Marcy led a pioneering team to an unpractical but utterly fascinating breakthrough: they discovered planets circling other stars.

Brain research also entered a golden age in the s, and Susan Greenfield was able to propose ingenious new theories to explain consciousness, the greatest mystery of brain function. Measuring light from unimaginably distant stars, Saul Perlmutter helped trigger a revolution in cosmology. It turns out that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, and the force driving this acceleration represents most of the energy in the universe.

No one knows what it is. The s saw another authentic revolution, this one in biology: Carl Woese discovered an entirely new kingdom, the archaebacteria. Bizarre microorganisms, they were probably the first living things on earth. He knows that few prominent scientists nowadays fit the noble humanitarian mold of Jonas Salk or act the bashful genius like Einstein.

Today they must perform on Oprah and talk in second soundbites. Since Anton writes from hindsight, their struggles end in success.

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