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How 'Virtual Water' Can Help Ease California's Drought 417

HughPickens.com writes Bill Davidow And Michael S. Malone write in the WSJ that recent rains have barely made a dent in California's enduring drought, now in its fourth year. Thus, it's time to solve the state's water problem with radical solutions, and they can begin with "virtual water." This concept describes water that is used to produce food or other commodities, such as cotton. According to Davidow and Malone, when those commodities are shipped out of state, virtual water is exported. Today California exports about six trillion gallons of virtual water, or about 500 gallons per resident a day. How can this happen amid drought? The problem is mispricing. If water were priced properly, it is a safe bet that farmers would waste far less of it, and the effects of California's drought—its worst in recorded history—would not be so severe. "A free market would raise the price of water, reflecting its scarcity, and lead to a reduction in the export of virtual water," say Davidow and Malone. "A long history of local politics, complicated regulation and seemingly arbitrary controls on distribution have led to gross inefficiency."

For example, producing almonds is highly profitable when water is cheap but almond trees are thirsty, and almond production uses about 10% of California's total water supply. The thing is, nuts use a whole lot of water: it takes about a gallon of water to grow one almond, and nearly five gallons to produce a walnut. "Suppose an almond farmer could sell real water to any buyer, regardless of county boundaries, at market prices—many hundreds of dollars per acre-foot—if he agreed to cut his usage in half, say, by drawing only two acre-feet, instead of four, from his wells," say the authors. "He might have to curtail all or part of his almond orchard and grow more water-efficient crops. But he also might make enough money selling his water to make that decision worthwhile." Using a similar strategy across its agricultural industry, California might be able to reverse the economic logic that has driven farmers to plant more water-intensive crops. "This would take creative thinking, something California is known for, and trust in the power of free markets," conclude the authors adding that "almost anything would be better, and fairer, than the current contradictory and self-defeating regulations."

Submission + - Europe's Largest IT Company to Ban Internal Email 1

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Thierry Breton, CEO of Atos, Europe's Largest IT Company, wants a "zero email" policy to be in place in 18 months, arguing that only 10 per cent of the 200 electronic messages his employees receive per day on average turn out to be useful and that staff spend between 5-20 hours handling emails every week. "The email is no longer the appropriate (communication) tool," says Breton. "The deluge of information will be one of the most important problems a company will have to face (in the future). It is time to think differently." Instead Breton wants staff at Atos, an international information technology corporation which operates in 42 countries worldwide, with over 78,500 employees, to use chat-type collaborative services inspired by social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter as surveys show that the younger generation have already all but scrapped email, with only 11 per cent of 11 to 19 year-olds using it,. For his part Breton hasn't sent a work email in three years. "If people want to talk to me, they can come and visit me, call or send me a text message. Emails cannot replace the spoken word.""
The Internet

Submission + - IPv6 Grows 1,400% in Last 12 Months (due to P2P) (arbornetworks.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A new study of 110 ISPs finds (for the first time) significant growth in Internet IPv6 traffic. But in results undoubtedly disappointing for IPv6 evangelists, the traffic is mostly uTorrent IPv6 P2P. The same researchers reported vanishingly small levels of IPv6 last year.
Lord of the Rings

Submission + - Tolkien Trust Okays Hobbit Movie

saudadelinux writes: Last year, the Tolkien Trust which administers JRR's estate, bellowed stentoriously, "Youuuu shall not make The Hobbit!" and sued New Line Cinema for "a reported $220m (£133m) in compensation, based on breach of contract and fraud." New Line, chastened, has settled for an undisclosed sum of money. The Trust has given its blessing to New Line for Guillermo del Toro to film "The Hobbit" and for New Line to make other films based on Tolkien's work. Much rejoycing!

Submission + - Linux patch to circumvent Microsoft's FAT patent 2

ariefwn writes: "A Linux developer has published a new kernel patch that provides a workaround to avoid Microsoft's patents on the FAT filesystem. The patch, which has undergone extensive legal review by patent lawyers, could make it possible to use FAT on Linux without having to pay licensing fees to Microsoft."

Submission + - Ray Ozzie says Google Wave 'anti-web' (theregister.co.uk) 1

TropicalCoder writes: "Ray Ozzie says Google Wave 'anti-web'. In the the video he complains about its complexity in relation to Microsoft's Live Mesh. He says "If you have something, that by its very nature is very complex, with many goals ... then you need open source to have many instances of it because nobody will be able to do an independent implimentation of it." That's its weakness to Ozzie, apparently — that this complexity that can only be overcome by open source. While he heaps high praise on the Google team that came up with this, he feels that the advantage of Microsoft's approach is that "...by decomposing things to be simpler, you don't need open source." While I can see how it would be an advantage to Microsoft to maintain things as closed source, I would accept complexity to keep things open. What approach do you feel is better?"

Submission + - Most americans have false sense of online security (net-security.org) 1

BaCa writes: More than half of computer users who think they are protected against online threats like spyware, viruses and hackers actually have inadequate or no online protection, according to an independent research study conducted for Verizon. While 92 percent of participants thought they were safe, the scans revealed that 59 percent were actually vulnerable to a variety of online dangers. Ninety-four percent of those surveyed said they would find it helpful to be able to diagnose or check their online security status on a regular basis to make sure their PCs were safe.

Submission + - Microsoft shuts down Santa for being naughty (kirotv.com)

Josh Fink writes: "While Santa might know if you are naughty or nice, but what do you do when Santa is naughty to you over Windows Live Messenger and encourages you to talk about oral sex? Thats right folks. Once again Microsoft has encouraged kids all around the world to speak to Santa again this year via Northpolelive.com, however this time, Santa has had his AI beefed up it seems. From the article: "Microsoft's holiday cheer soured this week when a reader of a United Kingdom-based technology news site, The Register, reported that a chat between Santa and his underage nieces about eating pizza prompted Santa to bring up oral sex." I am beginning to wonder if Microsoft ever bothered to do a QA test, or check words in its Santa response database."

Submission + - Anti-p2p Tactics Revealed in Leaked Emails (arstechnica.com)

Keeper Of Keys writes: Nearly 700MB of MediaDefender emails have been harvested from an employee's gmail account, revealing, among other things, the anti-p2p company's culpability for the MiiVi filesharing "honeypot" exposed by TorrentFreak in July, with which they have denied thir involvement. The emails, which include correspondence with clients such as Sony/BMG, have been circulated via bittorrent by a group called MediaDefender-Defender, and have now also been posted online for easy reading, ahead of the presumably imminent entrapment lawsuit.

"What people have been reduced to are mere 3-D representations of their own data." -- Arthur Miller