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NASA Says Moon Has More Water Than Great Lakes 255

jerryjamesstone writes "The US Great Lakes have some competition: the moon. Yes, that old thing in the sky may hold more than all of the water contained in the Great Lakes, according to a NASA-funded study. From the article: 'Scientists at the Carnegie Institution's Geophysical Laboratory in Washington, along with other scientists across the nation, determined that the water was likely present very early in the moon's formation history as hot magma started to cool and crystallize. This finding means water is native to the moon.'"

'Peak Wood' Offers Parallels For Our Time 604

Harperdog sends in a piece from Miller McCune looking back at the history of mankind's relationship with virgin timber. Again and again, civilizations have faced a condition of "peak wood," and how they handled it (or failed to) illuminates the current situation with regard to oil. The piece ends with a quote from the 19th-century social scientist and communist theorist Friedrich Engels, who is not generally thought of as an environmental seer: "What did the Spanish planters in Cuba, who burned down the forests on the slopes of the mountains and obtained sufficient fertilizer from the ashes for one generation of highly profitable coffee trees, care that the heavy tropical rains later washed away the now unprotected upper stratum of the soil and left only bare rock behind? ... Let us not flatter ourselves on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory nature takes its revenge on us. Each victory, it is true, in the first place brings about the results we expected, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unforeseen effects which only too often cancel the first."

Intel Sucks Up Water Amid Drought In China 386

An anonymous reader sends along a Bloomberg piece on Intel and the coming water wars. "Intel is going head-to-head with businesses like Coca-Cola to swallow up scarce water resources in the developing world. According a 2009 report ... 2.4 billion of the world's population lives in 'water-stressed' countries such as China and India. Chip fabrication plants in those countries, as well factories such as the soft drink giant's bottling plants, are swallowing up scarce resources needed by the 1.6 billion people who rely on water for farming. ... Li Haifeng, vice president of sewage treatment company Beijing Enterprises Water Group, told Bloomberg, 'Wars may start over the scarcity of water.' China's 1.33 billion citizens each have 2,117 cubic meters of water available to them per year.... In the US, consumers can count on as much as 9,943 cubic meters."

Patents On Synthetic Life "Extremely Damaging" 171

An anonymous reader writes "Pioneer and veteran of genomics Professor John Sulston is extremely concerned about the patent applications on the first synthetic life-form. The patents were filed by the Venter Institute following the announcement of the first life-form to have a synthetic genome. Sulston claims the patent is excessively broad and would stifle research and development in the field by creating an effective monopoly on synthetic life and related molecular techniques. Prof. Sulston had previously locked horns ten years ago with Dr. Craig Venter over intellectual property issues surrounding the human genome project. Fortunately, Sulston won the last round and the HGP is freely accessible — Venter had wanted to charge for access, just as he now wishes to make 'synthetic life' proprietary."

Giant Plumes of Oil Forming Below the Gulf's Surface 483

An anonymous reader sends in a NY Times article about the spread of oil from the BP gusher in the Gulf of Mexico. Quoting: "Scientists are finding enormous oil plumes in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, including one as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide, and 300 feet thick in spots. The discovery is fresh evidence that the leak from the broken undersea well could be substantially worse than estimates that the government and BP have given. ... The plumes are depleting the oxygen dissolved in the gulf, worrying scientists, who fear that the oxygen level could eventually fall so low as to kill off much of the sea life near the plumes. Dr. Joye said the oxygen had already dropped 30 percent near some of the plumes in the month that the broken oil well had been flowing. ... [Scientists on the Pelican mission] suspect the heavy use of chemical dispersants, which BP has injected into the stream of oil emerging from the well, may have broken the oil up into droplets too small to rise rapidly. ... Dr. Joye said the findings about declining oxygen levels were especially worrisome, since oxygen is so slow to move from the surface of the ocean to the bottom. She suspects that oil-eating bacteria are consuming the oxygen at a feverish clip as they work to break down the plumes."

First Superbugs, Now Superweeds 435

Finxray writes "Years of heavy use of the broad spectrum herbicide Roundup has led to the rapid growth of superweeds. They are spreading throughout North America, creating headaches for farmers and posing 'the single largest threat to production agriculture that we have ever seen,' according to Andrew Wargo III, the president of the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts. From the article: 'The first resistant species to pose a serious threat to agriculture was spotted in a Delaware soybean field in 2000. Since then, the problem has spread, with 10 resistant species in at least 22 states infesting millions of acres, predominantly soybeans, cotton and corn. The superweeds could temper American agriculture’s enthusiasm for some genetically modified crops. Soybeans, corn and cotton that are engineered to survive spraying with Roundup have become standard in American fields. However, if Roundup doesn’t kill the weeds, farmers have little incentive to spend the extra money for the special seeds."

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