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Earth

Meat Makes Our Planet Thirsty 545

Posted by samzenpus
from the water-dissolving-and-water-removing dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Mames McWilliams writes in the NYT that with California experiencing one of its worst droughts on record, attention has naturally focused on the water required to grow popular foods such as walnuts, broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries, almonds and grapes. 'Who knew, for example, that it took 5.4 gallons to produce a head of broccoli, or 3.3 gallons to grow a single tomato? This information about the water footprint of food products — that is, the amount of water required to produce them — is important to understand, especially for a state that dedicates about 80 percent of its water to agriculture.' But for those truly interested in lowering their water footprint, those numbers pale next to the water required to fatten livestock. Beef turns out to have an overall water footprint of roughly four million gallons per ton produced (PDF). By contrast, the water footprint for "sugar crops" like sugar beets is about 52,000 gallons per ton; for vegetables it's 85,000 gallons per ton; and for starchy roots it's about 102,200 gallons per ton.

There's also one single plant that's leading California's water consumption and it's one that's not generally cultivated for humans: alfalfa. Grown on over a million acres in California, alfalfa sucks up more water than any other crop in the state. And it has one primary destination: cattle. 'If Californians were eating all the beef they produced, one might write off alfalfa's water footprint as the cost of nurturing local food systems. But that's not what's happening. Californians are sending their alfalfa, and thus their water, to Asia.' Alfalfa growers are now exporting some 100 billion gallons of water a year from this drought-ridden region to the other side of the world in the form of alfalfa.

Beef eaters are already paying more. Water-starved ranches are devoid of natural grasses that cattle need to fatten up so ranchers have been buying supplemental feed at escalating prices or thinning their herds to stretch their feed dollars. But McWilliams says that in the case of agriculture and drought, there's a clear and accessible actions most citizens can take: Changing one's diet to replace 50 percent of animal products with edible plants like legumes, nuts and tubers results in a 30 percent reduction in an individual's food-related water footprint. Going vegetarian reduces that water footprint by almost 60 percent. 'It's seductive to think that we can continue along our carnivorous route, even in this era of climate instability. The environmental impact of cattle in California, however, reminds us how mistaken this idea is coming to seem.'"
Space

Bizarre Six-Tailed Asteroid Dumbfounds Scientists 134

Posted by samzenpus
from the six-tails-are-better-than-one dept.
coondoggie writes "Many images from deep space are so cool, weird and unusual it is hard to believe they are real sometimes. This is one of them. Astronomers looking deep into the asteroid belt through NASA's Hubble Space Telescope say they have spotted an asteroid, designated P/2013 P5, with six comet-like tails of dust radiating from it like spokes on a wheel or a spinning garden sprinkler."
Space

Why We'll Never Meet Aliens 629

Posted by Soulskill
from the probably-immigration-laws dept.
iggychaos writes "The idea that aliens will come visit us is fundamentally flawed. Paul Tyma ponders the technology that would be required for such an event and examines how evolution of that technology would preclude any reason to actually make the trip. He writes, 'Twenty years ago if I asked you how many feet were in a mile (and you didn't know) you could go to a library and look it up. Ten years ago, you could go to a computer and google it. Today, you can literally ask your phone. It's not a stretch at all with the advent of wearable computing that coming soon - I can ask you that question and you'll instantly answer. ... How would you change if you had instant brain-level access to all information. How would you change if you were twice as smart as you are now. How about ten times as smart? (Don't answer, truth is, you're not smart enough to know). Now, let's leap ahead and think about what that looks like in 100 years. Or 1000. Or whenever it is you'll think we'd have the technology to travel to another solar system. We'd be a scant remnant of what a human looks like today. ... The question of why aliens might 'want to come here' is probably fundamentally flawed because we are forming that question from our current (tiny) viewpoint. The word 'want' might not apply at all to someone 1000 times smarter than us."
EU

Google Map App's Version of Anonymity Might Violate EU Privacy Laws 89

Posted by timothy
from the of-course-we-don't-know-your-name-#449709761 dept.
Ars Technica reports that Google's map application for iOS, however popular it might be with users, raises red flags with European regulators, who maintain that it by default does not sufficiently safeguard user privacy as required by EU privacy rules. Ars quotes Marit Hansen of Germany's Independent Centre for Privacy Protection on why: "Hansen's main gripe is that Google's use of 'anonymous' is misleading. 'All available information points to having linkable identifiers per user," she told Computerworld. Hansen added this would allow Google to track several location entries, thus leading to her assumption that Google's 'anonymous location data' would be considered 'personal data' under the European law."
Chrome

Researcher Claims To Have Chrome Zero-Day, Google Says "Prove It" 106

Posted by samzenpus
from the secret-security dept.
chicksdaddy writes "Google's been known to pay $60,000 for information on remotely exploitable vulnerabilities in its Chrome web browser. So, when a researcher says that he has one, but isn't interested in selling it, eyebrows get raised. And that's just what's happening this week, with Google saying it will wait and see what Georgian researcher Ucha Gobejishvili has up his sleeve in a presentation on Saturday at the Malcon conference in New Delhi. Gobejishvili has claimed that he will demonstrate a remotely exploitable hole in the Chrome web browser at Malcon. He described the security hole in Chrome as a 'critical vulnerability' in a Chrome DLL. 'It has silent and automatically (sp) download function and it works on all Windows systems,' he told Security Ledger. However, more than a few questions hang over Gobejishvili's talk. The researcher said he discovered the hole in July, but hasn't bothered to contact Google. He will demonstrate the exploit at MalCon, and have a 'general discussion' about it, but won't release source code for it. 'I know this is a very dangerous issue that's why I am not publishing more details about this vulnerability,' he wrote. Google said that, with no information on the hole, it can only wait to hear the researcher's Malcon presentation before it can assess the threat to Chrome users."
Patents

Apple Loses German Court Bid To Ban Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1N, Nexus Phone 193

Posted by samzenpus
from the and-the-hits-keep-coming dept.
chrb writes "Apple has failed to get a patent ban on Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1N and the Nexus phone in Germany. Presiding Judge Andreas Mueller stated, 'Samsung has shown that it is more likely than not that the patent will be revoked because of a technology that was already on the market before the intellectual property had been filed for protection.' The patent in question covered list scrolling and document translation, scaling, and rotation on a touch-screen display. This news follows the recent Appeals court ruling that upheld the original Galaxy Tab 10.1 ban."
Chrome

No Tab Relocation Coming For Chrome 574

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the trust-us-we're-designers dept.
shaitand writes about Google disagreeing with the desire of Chrome users to put tabs under (rather than above) the location bar: "This issue has had overwhelming feedback from users with no notable dissent. But Google revealed their view on the community, saying that feedback and comments aren't considered, and today moved to silence dissent and lock comments on the issue. [A Chromium developer] says, 'Commenting on this bug has absolutely no effect at all on the likelihood that we are going to reconsider. So that people don't get their hopes up falsely, I'm locking this bug to additional comments.'"

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