PIG produces calf the size of NYC

Pine Island Glacier - National Geographic

Pine Island Glacier - National Geographic

Explanatory notes: PIG = Pine Island Glacier. Calf = Piece broken off. NYC = New York City. If it were not for Peter Sinclair and Climate Denial Crock of the Week, I might never have heard of the PIG, nor understand why it is considered to be ‘the canary in the coal mine’ for warming in the Antarctic. I would never have heard of John Mercer; who was one of the first people to warn (in the late 1970s) that, once ice shelf fragmentation became obvious, we would know we were in serious trouble. That time has now come. Peter’s first post on this subject was very fortuitous in that linking to it fitted nicely into my critique of Richard Lindzen as a former apologist for the Tobacco industry turned climate change denier, which itself arose out of my learning of James Hansen’s characterisation of Lindzen as behaving like a lawyer who only puts forward information and argument favourable to his client; and as someone who does not seek truth because a lawyer merely seeks a win for his client. No prizes for guessing who his “client” is… However, rather than re-posting Peter’s most recent item about the PIG, I will merely insert links to all of the above-referenced items in chronological order, in the hope those unfamiliar with it, will investigate the whole story (each will open in a new window): – New crack in the PIG (3 Nov 2011). – Is Richard Lindzen the devil’s advocate? (4 Nov 2011). – “Changes in the Ice” – Pine Island Glacier’s crack heard round the world (7 Feb 2012). For those short of time, here is a summary:
Antarctica - Real Climate

Antarctica - Real Climate

Glaciers always create more icebergs in summer (i.e. now in Antarctica). However, the PIG is generally accepted to be the most susceptible to calving and, in this case, the size of the piece that has now broken away is unprecedented. Its effect is similar to that of someone taking the hand brake off in your car parked on a steep hill while you are standing in front of it: Without the ice shelf to hold it back; the glacier behind it will now flow downhill faster… It’s yet another example of an insidious positive feedback mechanism. Are we up that smelly creek without a viable means of propulsion? Not necessarily, I think. However, the solution lies with all of us; as we cannot leave it to our politicians to do the right thing because, quite simply, they never will. More on this tomorrow.

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About Rick Altman

Possibly just another 'Climate Cassandra' crying 'Wolf' in cyberspace. However, the moral of the old children's story is that the Wolf eventually turned up!
This entry was posted in Anthropocene, Climate Science, Environment, Intergenerational Injustice, James Hansen, Richard Lindzen, Storms of my Grandchildren and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to PIG produces calf the size of NYC

  1. pendantry says:

    I didn’t like this because I don’t. How can anyone (apart from Koch & co, of course, who, clearly, don’t give a pair of fetid dingos kidneys for the rest of us, or the planet).

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    • Rick Altman says:

      Even though your dislike of this post is entirely understandable, thank you for taking the time to make your wonderful Douglas Adams-enriched comment. 🙂

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  2. “the size of the piece that has now broken away is unprecedented.” – ML Rick, very interesting article. However, I am under the impression that this “happens down here all the time” according to that NASA guy, and other NASA spokespeople say this occurs naturally. Looking into the data, it seems that the Ocean is not even warming nor is Antarctica. We ought to be able to see what is going on now that the ARGO system is in place.

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    • Rick Altman says:

      Like I think I said, glaciers always melt and/or calve more in the summer. This piece is bigger than normal; and the destablisation of the PIG could lead to rapid loss from the West Antarctic Icesheet. However, I too have read all those reports of an absence of warming in the ocean around Antarctica but, yet again, you are choosing to focus on the one thing that suggests we do not have a problem, whilst ignoring the many things that suggest we do have a problem. This is part a consistent pattern of behaviour amongst people who do not want to accept that humanity cannot continue to treat the environment with contempt and think that there will be no adverse consequences. It is always the so-called “sceptics” that cherry-pick their data to suit their argument, just as they did when the issue they wished to dismiss was the dangers of passive smoking.

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      • No Rick, I chose to talk about Antarctica because you raised the topic. A normal occurrence in the Antarctic ice sheet is not evidence for or against AGW.

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      • Rick Altman says:

        No, John. It was you that chose to mention the fact that Antarctic waters are not warming as fast as all the other oceans… and I am telling you that this particular occurrence should not be dismissed as part of a normal pattern of behaviour. End of story. BTW have you heard the news? Anthony Watts and WUWT have been unmasked as a Heartland Institute-funded misinformation campaign? My old friend Donald has just forwarded me the proof, so I have copied it to Peter Sinclair at Climate Denial Crock of the Week to ensure maximum, rapid exposure.

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    • Rick, What are you talking about? The temperature state of the waters of Antarctica is directly related to whether this is an “unprecedented event” as you say or a “normal occurrence” as the NASA guy said. You are choosing to take a normal occurrence and make it a sign of something else. Really, this event neither proves nor disproves your case. But it is interesting.

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      • Rick, I will check out the WUWT thing. However, I am under the impression that all those sites seek funding on an ongoing basis. They even have little paypal donation links.

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      • Rick Altman says:

        The temperature of the ocean is not the only factor determining the rate of calving of the ice shelf; the thinning of which may well have occurred slowly over a number of years. In addition, pressure on the ice shelf (tending to cause it to break-up) may also be building due to sub-glacial lubrication by surface meltwater (i.e. that has plunged down moulins)… So again, I say, you are attempting to dismiss something that should be alarming, be only focussing on that information that helps your argument. It is not me that is being selective; I am looking at the bigger picture.

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      • I checked out the WUWT response to the big breaking story. Much ado about nothing?

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      • Rick Altman says:

        To be fair to AW/WUWT, we have known he was on the payroll of the Heartland Institute for some time. What is shocking is the lengths the Heartland Institute are willing to go to stop science teachers teaching science, etc.. It is very reminiscent of attempts to get Creationism taught in schools instead of Evolution.

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  3. Barry Woods says:

    Rick – why the smears and lies – WUWT is not on the payroll of the Heartland institute, they do not fund the WUWT website, now or in the past. If you have point to make, it helps to be factually accurate (ie like you not allowed questons error) especially if they are so easily checkable. Rick – Anthony Watts has NEVER taken any money from Heartland for the Watts Up WIth That website. He approached them for funds to build a new website in 2012 (high end hardware, for high traffic) developer time, etc) to make available the NOAA weather data in an easily available format for the interested general public and weathermen. The Horror! It is so easy to get sucked into all of this (no one cares about me or you) we could so easily be getting on with our lives and jobs. Neither of us is going to change the world, or the directions of major economies like China and the nearly developed world. Bythe way your linked in profile, sends out a whole negative message to any potential employer, as sadly does a browse on this blog. I imagine mainstream employers would be a bit put off, if there are lots of jobs in the climate change preventio sector, that need someone like you, well good luck.

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    • Rick Altman says:

      Even if it may not have (yet) received such funding (I would like to see you prove it has not), WUWT is very clearly peddling the Heartland Institute’s message; and Watts – like Delingpole and Monckton and a whole host of other non-experts – is a regular speaker at things like the International Climate Change Conferences. Please don’t bother to give me any more career advice, my About page makes it very clear that I am not interested in working in the commercial sector unless an employer is pretty forward-thinking. I made the mistake of talking myself into a hard-headed profit-oriented position before; and have no wish to repeat that error. BTW, why have you posted this comment here – and the one about the PIG on my Meritocracy post (where its relevance seems highly questionable)? Whatever, I am yet ever hopeful that you guys will yet address the issues surrounding the politics and psychology of denial of all environmental problems (not just climate change), which my blog raises. Even if your “expertise” does not extend beyond regurgitating climate change denial arguments, is it too much too ask that, at very least, you could do that for your pet subject? I may have made a mess of my publicity stunt in the Curry House; and you can call me ‘Joshua’ for it if you like if it makes you feel more comfortable. However, none of this changes the extremely high probability that I am right; and you are wrong.

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  4. Barry Woods says:

    at this point I might mention that I am a WUWT guest author.. So it is all about trust and goodwill, Now I do think you are sincere, just mistaken WUWT isn’t on anybodies payroll, neither am I. seriously your blog is ranked 19,000,000 on Alexa. My own blog 5,000,000 WUWT is RATHER higher.. which shows we are just having chats with each other and doing nothing productive, in our lives.. China and India do not care for either of us. (nor WUWT, or Bishop Hill, or any blog for that matter) and they are going to burn evey bit of coal they have, regardless of what sceptical/convinced bloggers like you or I say, or do.. Perhaps go back to your old job, I’m thinking of retiring my blog as well.. As Energy Policy will see off the catastrophic verson of AGW, with a healthy dose of political/economic reality

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    • Rick Altman says:

      Thanks for declaring an interest, Barry. That is very honest of you. Given that I have not looked for it and do not have evidence to the contrary, I will accept what you say as the truth regarding WUWT’s past finances. I see no merit in you or anyone else playing numbers games with me. The fact that WUWT has vastly more followers than this blog proves nothing. Popularity is not an indicator of reliability, objectivity, or even sanity. However, when it comes to a modern-day scientific consensus established by hundreds of independent researchers, the opinion of the majority of relevant experts may be worth taking note of (IMHO). Once again, given that we probably can’t stop China burning all its coal – and probably can’t stop OPEC countries burning all their oil and gas (especially if they have no other viable exports) – there is even more good reason for us to stop burning fossil fuels ASAP. This is the argument made by everybody from James Hansen (Storms of my Grandchildren) to the International Energy Agency (World Energy Outlook 2011). BTW, just in case you are inclined to accuse me of being overly-sensitive (vis-a-vis blacklisting Latimer Alder), I would say two things: 1. Politely but firmly, I gave him an opportunity to apologise but he chose instead to re-state the “sceptical” argument that concern over ACD is equivalent to faith in fairies at the bottom of the garden. 2. I do not think much of your Mr Watts’ attitude to blacklisting people just because they make him look silly (you will see my link to WUWT on line 10 of this post).

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      • Barry Woods says:

        My point is.. as China will do nothing, good luck with persuading the general public in the uk/EU

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      • Rick Altman says:

        Have you any comment to make on the rest of what I said, Barry, or are you now changing the subject again because you lost the argument? Come on, admit it, this is why Watts blacklisted me – as a College dropout and former TV weatherman – he knew he would never win an argument with me! Please tell me I’m wrong, or get me off the blacklist. I acted out of ignorance of your in-house policy so, if you let me back in, I promise not to use the D-word (i.e. while on your site only).

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  5. Barry Woods says:

    Well you may think that is a reason to stop fossil fuels. given that the majority of the public will disagree with you on that, so good luck with that one. ie when it was very cold, 48% UK electricity was by coal, the rest gas/nuclear. WInd will NOT cut it. I think you feel rather more important than you actually are… diving in and being rude at another blog (you are a guest) especially someone you do not like. did you reall think ‘denier’ was appropriate way to build any sort of goodwill.. (without having to read policy) be civil, and you might get off pre-moderation.. Don’t take it personally, Anthony Watts called me a ‘liabilty once’ and chucked me off being a guest author (and I was at fault) ‘he knew he couldn’t win an argument with you’ please take a moment to listen to yourself, I don’t think ANYBODY could ‘win’ an argument with you… but that is because they would just disengage rather than waste their time.. Noone knows who you are,nor realy cares about your thoughts… and that ALSO applies to me.. We both have blogs that are Alexa ranked in the tens of millions. do check out http://www.joabbess.com – you might get on like a house on fire.. matchmaking now..

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    • Rick Altman says:

      OK Barry, I get the message. If I was rude to Anthony, I was no more so than many others. However, I don’t like it when people now come here and do the same so… Nevertheless, can you not see that the reason he blacklisted me was due, at best to a misunderstanding, and at worst because he was embarrassed?. Don’t worry, I did not take it personally – I just thought the whole thing was – and is – ridiculous. Thanks for being so blunt. I do realise how I must sound but, with regret, I have to say it once again, all I am trying to do is make people see sense: So called “sceptics”; are picking a fight with both history and science – the outcome is guaranteed – all you have to decide is how bad you want things to get before you are willing to concede defeat. However, there will be no glory in victory – only disappointment over what we might have been able to prevent. I think this discussion is probably over now; what about you?

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      • Barry Woods says:

        Believe me – I very much doubt that he was not embarrased by anything you said, please get over yourself.

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      • Rick Altman says:

        Wow. I haven’t heard anyone say “get over yourself” for decades. Quite right, AW was not embarrassed by anything I said, he was embarrassed because was caught out by a practical joke (i.e. spoof cover of a book I have not written posted on my blog). This conversation is going nowhere. Sorry.

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  6. Barry Woods says:

    Please take it from me ‘making people see sense’ never works, people eyes glaze over, and edge away… Most people aren’t interested in the climate debate. Am I a ‘so called sceptic’ if you really think so, I might as well not bother. I am as well educated as you, and count both climate scientists and environmentalists as friends.. including some that were very involved with TAR. They do not talk to me like you do. So why should I give you any time. Personal thought, get your old job back, keep blogging as a hobby (it is a time suck) if only NOTHING you and I can do will change the world.. Please for your sake change your linkedin profile, it screams – unemployable – even in the sector you wish to be in, as does parts of this blog I’m obvioulsy very interested in the debate, but in the real world I live in, nobobdy I know has heard of WUWT, Mann, Mcintyre, Lindzen, nor even Delingpole.. Every now again, if I’m writing about it my wife, asks which ‘side’ is Delingpole on again !!! She is very intellegent, just NOT interested, like most of the public. So if you want to convince anybody, you just have to be civil and polite, you come across very badly, and just alienate people AND It takes someone that has been there, to recognise it in another..

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    • Rick Altman says:

      Barry, you may well be trying to be helpful (and you may not) but, if you repeat yourself anymore I will assume you are trying to oppress and/or harass me. If people really are as generally disengaged as you suggest (in the USA there is a very political divide) then the denialist movement has achieved its entirely self-defeating aims; continued policy inaction will lead to an unprcedented environmental catastrophe: “I’ve come to conclude that if we burn all reserves of oil, gas and coal, there is a substantial chance we will initiate the runaway greenhouse. If we also burn the tar sands and tar shale, I believe the Venus syndrome is a dead certainty.” James Hansen (2009) Storms of My Grandchildren, page 236. If you question Hansen’s integrity, sincerity, motives, etc., then it is you – not me – that is lost in a world of conspiracy.

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    • Rick Altman says:

      If I want Careers guidance from you, I will ask for it. Until then, please exercise restraint.

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  7. Barry Woods says:

    Rick. I am trying to help you.. Actually you make a good observation in the USA. al issues there seem to massively politically divisive. Language like ‘denialist’ is part of the problem, it would cause massive anger, because whatver you may think of the ‘deniers’ they take huge offense to that language. If you think am a denier’ or part of a denilaits movement’ serioulsy, then I can only agree it is pointless either of us wasting time with each other.. just a note: Dr Tamsin Edwards: (very much a consensus climate modellor) “I am an example of a consensusist who has stopped using denier directly because of Barry, Bish [Andrew Montford] and this forum. Name calling is ever so counterproductive. Today I was defending you lot to (particle physics) friends, yesterday to climate/stats friends, saying that denier offends and there is a spectrum of opinions anyway. ” http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2011/9/28/dellers-on-reason.html?currentPage=3#comments

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    • Rick Altman says:

      Barry, I am genuinely sorry if you think I am labelling you. However, rather than just endlessly criticising me, feel free to explain your self. If you are not a denier, and you are not a conspiracy theorist, and it is not just that that ther might be genuine cause for alarm (which is actually rather frightening), what is your reason for maintaining your “sceptcsim”? Do you actually think i get some kind of perverted pleasure out of being so alarmed and deliberately alarming? What purpose would that serve? Why do any of us do it? Careful now, you could very easily invoke conspiracy theory or some warped psychological stuff about people needing to have something to be afraid of…. P.S. If you don’t understand why I insist on using quotations marks, please read the 300-word Abstract of my MA dissertation on my About page or, for a longer explanation, start here

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  8. Barry Woods says:

    All I am trying to get across, is presumably you want to persuade people that you are correct. And I was pointing out, that by your approach (i.e. lack of empathy in why people would take offense and general tone); they will just leave you to blog to a very small audience of the convinced. Which will achieve very little. If take a moment to read the comments, from pg 1 in the url, you will find me having a major disagreement with James Delingpole and generally disagreeing with my own ‘side’ about how to engage and debate with people that disagree. Totally unconvinced by the Greenpeace version of climate catastrophe, as are most climate scientists I know; and that includes a very good friend who was part of the IPCC team that produced AR3 (or TAR) – and is a key member of UK team that advice the DECC to this day. You feel alarmed and frightened apparently. I do not. In my opinion, people who are overly-emotive and utterly-convinced tend to make poor judgemnents. I hoped that the words of a very respectable climate scientist above might give you pause for thought. What do you hope to achieve, and realistically what are you achieving, is your current aproach working?

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    • Rick Altman says:

      You will have to forgive me being suspicious Barry because (1) this is how things started with John Kosowski 5 weeks ago (i.e. him seeming to be open minded an polite); (2) you did not declare your involvement with WUWT until I began to criticise it; (3) WUWT is a strange place to contribute if you are genuinely open-minded; and (4) your attempts to be helpful could just as easily be intended to make me want to give up. Given the level of hostility vented in my direction as a consequence of merely forcefully and cogently stating my case (in my 1800 word email), it is laughable for you to lecture me about the “tone” I choose to adopt. However, good for you for taking Delingpole on. If you have read my Background page in full – and the many other posts about him – you will know that I think he is a complete self-confessed fool; and the only reason The Daily Telegraph keeps paying him to write such nonsense is that nonsense is popular these days! …And there of course we are back to all that is wrong with ‘the marketplace of ideas’… However, for the record, I am a Greenpeace supporter (although they would not like my ambivalence towards nuclear power); and I suspect you cannot know many climate scientists – please don’t bother to write me a list: However long it is, I am sure there are ten times more that would disagree with you/them (because if there are not then you are back into conspiracy theory territory). I therefore do not care to be lectured by you or anyone else about my judgement on this matter. I have no idea how old you are, but it has taken me a very long time to reach the point at which I am today; prepared to take anyone on – Lindzen included – who appears to be standing in the way of humanity making sensible decisions to safeguard a sustainable future. If your response to this is to indulge in any more home-spun psychology, I will assume you wish to be ignored.

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  9. Barry Woods says:

    Good luck.

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  10. Barry Woods says:

    Rick – I was trying to help.. I contribute at WUWT because it has a very large audience, rather than a backwater like an individual blog (mine included) I normally get told to hang out with my environmentalist friends!!! by people in the comments and accused of not being sceptical enough. Just shows the USA situation is horribly politicised/polarised. I had never heard of you until you showed up at Climate Etc, and I have always wanted to talk to people that differed in opinions, or challenge my own ‘side’. Morano being next on my list. I have interviewed BOTH Leo Hickman (Guardian) and James Delingpole for my blog articles, I disagree with both, but believe me, it takes trust and goodwill to do this on all our parts. As to ‘not declaring’. I volunteered it as a sign of trust and goodwill. yet you seem to want to twist this. WUWT is just a blog, like mine, like yours, where an indivudal has become very succesfull. So Good Luck.. I could easily be spending my time writing something that would recieve tens, or hundreds or thousands of views for WUWT, I thought I might have a chat with you, so that we maight understand each other.. I can see your motives are sincere (I just think mistaken) it seems that you do not believe my motives are sincere. So Good Luck

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    • Rick Altman says:

      Forgive me Barry, I have not yet worked out if you are British or American (although your use of “get over yourself” is mildly-suggestive of the latter)? If I am right, what is your attitude towards/opinion of REP? Also, have you signed the Avaaz petition to have Rush Limbaugh censured for verbally abusing a teenager for asking for oral contraceptives for a disabled friend? He deserves to embrace political oblivion for that one… BTW, I hope you have noted that, along with changing the background colour to that of the Cote d’Azur (I nice touch I thought), I have also changed the tagline to something more transparent…

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    • Rick Altman says:

      Look Barry, I have explained my reasons for being suspicious: Some of JK’s early comments were 800 words long – is it that unreasonable of me to feel he has wasted an awful lot of my time? Is it that unreasonable of me to resent him now repeatedly calling me a liar? As you may hopefully have gathered by now, I value integrity and honesty quite highly. Therefore, if you are willing to stop telling me to give up, I would be delighted to discuss issues with you in a rational manner. All I ask is that you not describe me as a “bully” as Latimer Alder is now doing; just because I am so sure of my position – and have arguments to back it up. You sound like a genuinely interesting guy so, do we have a deal? (Oooh, and despite all that I may have said, I would still welcome a chance to chat with Mark). 🙂

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    • Rick Altman says:

      I will even delete the words in brackets if you will not walk away just when things seemed to be getting interesting?

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    • Rick Altman says:

      Also – I now note from your Gravatar that you are in the UK.

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  11. Barry Woods says:

    Hi Rick – I’ve been reading Climate Etc since it started, I only stopped by here out of curiousity, as we both attended the House of Commons event.. I thought I was trying to offer some productive criticism, ie if you toned it down a bit, less rhetoric and less combative, you might engage more people.. The irony is.. that is almost exactly the same thing I said to JD, resulting in 3 F-off’s Take care.

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    • Rick Altman says:

      Well now, I think that is a shame. I thought you were turning into quite an interesting person – especially given all your contacts with media people. Furthermore, the one thing I would like to hope I would not do is tell you to eff-off. However, given that I disagree with almost everything JD says – and you don’t seem to accept anything I have said to you – I find it hard to see where the middle ground could be (which you claim to occupy).

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