One for the vegetarians

From the website of New Scientist, an article called Meat is murder on the environment describing the publication of a peer-reviewed paper called “Evaluating environmental impacts of the Japanese beef cow-calf system by the life cycle assessment method” by Akifumi OGINO, Hideki ORITO, Kazuhiro SHIMADA and Hiroyuki HIROOKA:

Their analysis showed that producing a kilogram of beef leads to the emission of greenhouse gases with a warming potential equivalent to 36.4 kilograms of carbon dioxide. It also releases fertilising compounds equivalent to 340 grams of sulphur dioxide and 59 grams of phosphate, and consumes 169 megajoules of energy (Animal Science Journal, DOI: 10.1111/j.1740-0929.2007.00457.x). In other words, a kilogram of beef is responsible for the equivalent of the amount of CO2 emitted by the average European car every 250 kilometres, and burns enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days.

That’s actually likely to be a conservative estimate too..

The calculations, which are based on standard industrial methods of meat production in Japan, did not include the impact of managing farm infrastructure and transporting the meat, so the total environmental load is higher than the study suggests.

Food for though ?

Don’t get carried away by the rain

Whilst it’s good to be happy about the water levels going up in our catchments it’s easy to forget that Melbourne is still in a worse position with water today than it was at this time last year. As the summary for the week of the 12th July puts it:

However, while our storages are now at the one third full mark, at the same time last year storages were closer to half full at 47.6%.

That’s a large difference, though it is nice that the climb back up has started earlier than last year

Graph of historical water levels as of 12th July 2007

Now if only we could redirect some of the rain that the UK is suffering from at the moment..

Telstra second from bottom in OECD broadband league

Thankfully at least one Australian paper has picked up on the recent OECD broadband report so we can get some idea about what it says for Australia. Telstra comes out really badly (surprise surprise), for speed in the national carrier stakes..

In a comparison of download speeds offered by incumbent national suppliers such as Telstra in October last year, Australia pulled up second last with its fastest offering of a 1.5mbit/s DSL package. While speedier packages were being offered by other suppliers at the time, our national carrier lagged that of most other developed countries, pulling up in the second last spot just ahead of Slovak Republic, and behind Turkey.

For pricing in general across ADSL providers we’re about average..

In terms of lowest monthly subscriptions costs for a broadband package, Sweden claimed the cheapest package at $US10.79, followed by Denmark at $US11.11. Australia sat in the middle of the pack at $US21.10, but behind New Zealand, which had an offering at $US16.86

which surprised me..

Samsung SCX-4200 printer driver security risk

Just to show what not to do when writing drivers, this just in from LWN:

A LinuxFR reader has sent out an alert (in French) about the Samsung SCX-4200 printer driver for Linux. It appears that the driver author had some trouble with the Linux permission model; the response was to make a few applications run setuid root. A quick look at the install script shows that the affected programs are xsane, xscanimage, and the major components. The script also replaces some CUPS executables and does some other fun things. This seems like code to avoid for anybody wanting to run a remotely secure system.


Alfred Deakin Innovation Lecture – Science, business and the law: Locking up innovation or sharing and harvesting it – which way to go?

Details on the websites of the State Library (the venue) and DIIRD.

Science, business and the law:

Locking up innovation or sharing and harvesting it – which way to go?

Venue Village Roadshow Theatrette, State Library of Victoria
Date Monday 16 July
Time 6.30 pm รขโ‚ฌโ€œ 8.00 pm
Cost Free Event
Seating General Admission - No booking required
Speakers Richard Jefferson, Prof Brian Fitzgerald, John Wilbanks, Robyn Williams

As open source software continues to transform the Internet รขโ‚ฌโ€œ underpinning the phenomenal growth of businesses like Google, Ebay and YouTube, what can science learn from the computing revolution? Are we missing out on the full benefits of science and technology because of outdated ideas about copyright and patenting?

This lecture will consider whether in our rush to protect intellectual property we are locking it up and damaging our capacity to deliver solutions for the critical issues of the 21st Century.

Melbournes water storages finally more than 1/3rd full!

Yay, today the Melbourne Water website tells me:

Melbourne’s water storages are currently 33.7% full

Bring on the rest of the rain, please! The picture at the moment is rather sad, with the summary for the week of the 5th July (latest to date) saying:

However, while the wet weather and rise in storage levels this week has been welcome, our reservoirs are still comparatively low following 10 years of below average inflows and the driest year on record in 2006. Storages at the same time last year were 47.8% (847,229 million litres) full.

Graph of Melbourne Water storages for 10 years up to 5th July 2007

Wot no proof reading ?

Vodafone spammed me recently with an SMS offer of free gift, so I took them up on it and found out I could pick from a selection of the usual magazine subscriptions, discount coupons, etc, but the one that took my fancy was to have a couple of trees planted by a conservation group somewhere in Australia (I presume).

Then the automatic email arrived to confirm it, saying:

Your chosen gift, Two tress planted on your behalf will be in your hands within the next two weeks.

So if a delivery driver turns up with two long pieces of hair to plant on me I’ll know it wasn’t just an unfortunately worded typo.. ๐Ÿ˜‰