On The Stands: Seed on the Universe in 2008

In the February issue, Seed has a great feature entitled "The Universe in 2008" which, in the magazine's words, strives to create a "framework for understanding whatever might happen in 2008" (no small task). Its talented stable of authors does a great job of dissecting the latest and upcoming trends in science, tackling such weighty issues as ethics and democracy; and emerging fields such as "massively multiplayer science."

Of great interest to us was Fred Pearce's article on virtual water - the (often large) amount of freshwater used to produce various products that often goes unnoticed. According to Pearce, the trade in virtual water is estimated to be roughly 1 trillion cubic meters a year, or the equivalent of 20 Nile Rivers; not surprisingly, he presages that 2008 will be seen as a tipping point in the trade, one that could "globalize" the world's water scarcities.

The piece features a great chart - designed by Timm Kekeritz - noting the water footprints of selected food items and countries (similar to the one seen above); if you're interested in reading more about the Virtual Water project, you can head on over to the official site here.

Chris Mooney also has a great piece making the case for Science Debate 2008, which we covered earlier here; and Saira Jesani outline's German Chancellor Angela Merkel's recent efforts to bring science and research to the top of her country's economic agenda.

In its review section, Seed recommends TH favorite Michael Pollan's latest book, In Defense of Food; Sidney Harris' 101 Funny Things About Global Warming, a collection of cartoons that alternately "pokes fun at carpoolers on one page" and "skewers climate skeptics on the next"; and Bruce Barcott's The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw, the lively account of a woman's fight to stop the construction of a dam in Central America that would threaten the region's dwindling population of macaws.