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Is Alcohol Killing Our Planet?

timothy posted about 5 years ago | from the every-day-is-earth-day dept.

Earth 468

Andy_Spoo writes "Something that I've been trying to get an answer to: Is alcohol killing our planet? Alcohol is a byproduct of yeast, but another is CO2. As we all know (unless you've been asleep for years), CO2 is helping to warm our planet, sending us into destruction. So how much is the manufacture and consumption of alcohol contributing to the total world CO2 level? And don't forget that bars and pubs force beer through to their pumps using large compressed cylinders of CO2. Does anyone know?"

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468 comments

Bloody hell! (4, Funny)

MrNaz (730548) | about 5 years ago | (#27424657)

"There" ?

Over THERE wherever the poster is from, THEIR education system is so bad that THEY'RE making repeated mistakes over and over. THERE needs to be an improvement in THEIR attitude towards THEIR literacy. As long as THERE exists a culture of flippancy towards being properly literate, THEIR children will always respond to people correcting THEIR use of language with indignant responses scoffing at the need to be accurate in the use of language. THEY'RE constantly talking about things like "evolution of language" and that THERE have been many changes in the use of words over history, but THEIR mistake stems from the fact that THEY'RE completely disregarding the difference between language evolving to meet different circumstances, and language devolving due to the apathy and ignorance of those who speak it.

Re:Bloody hell! (5, Insightful)

MrNaz (730548) | about 5 years ago | (#27424675)

Oh, and regarding the actual article, no CO2 from the alcohol industry is on a wholly different scale from CO2 emissions from industry and transport.

It's like wondering if you peeing in the ocean when you go for a swim is making a difference to global oceanic warming because, after all, your pee is quite warm.

Re:Bloody hell! (5, Funny)

MrNaz (730548) | about 5 years ago | (#27424685)

(I'm SOOO going to mod-point hell for the above posts.)

Re:Bloody hell! (1)

TurboNed (1370389) | about 5 years ago | (#27424737)

Doubtful. I'd have modded you up but instead I'm just posting on everything today. Stupid First of April.

Is Alcohol Killing Our Planet? (5, Funny)

Hojima (1228978) | about 5 years ago | (#27424891)

I'd have to say alcohol is the solution to saving our planet. As a very short friend of mine once said, all you have to do is:

1. Drink excessive amounts of liqueur
2. ???
3. ???

Re:Bloody hell! (1)

shadowbearer (554144) | about 5 years ago | (#27424943)

Indeed. Might as well speculate that humans pissing their pants on the beaches contributes to ocean acidification ;)

SB

Re:Bloody hell! (1, Informative)

ReverendLoki (663861) | about 5 years ago | (#27424793)

Besides, as any brewer or baker will tell you, yeast used in brewing is genetically inclined to produce more alcohol than CO2, whereas the yeast used in baking is just the opposite - it produces much more CO2 than alcohol. That's why you don't bake with brewer's yeast, or brew with baker's yeast.

Remember, not everyone drinks alcohol, especially not everyday, but almost everyone eats bread at least once a day if not more...

Folks, it's almost Passover - maybe unleavened bread can save the planet!

/just stoking the fire a bit

Re:Bloody hell! (2, Funny)

rubycodez (864176) | about 5 years ago | (#27424885)

ah yes passover, it's the greenhouse gas methane produced from the Borsht and horseradish beets that's dooming us all! Oy Vey!

Re:Bloody hell! (1)

shadowbearer (554144) | about 5 years ago | (#27424979)

  I'll throw some organic material on that fire ;)

  Baker's ovens. Gas fired, for the most part.

  (anyone who has worked in a bakery knows that gas fired ovens are lots better at baking bread evenly than electric ones are)

SB

Re:Bloody hell! (5, Interesting)

hankwang (413283) | about 5 years ago | (#27424983)

Besides, as any brewer or baker will tell you, yeast used in brewing is genetically inclined to produce more alcohol than CO2, whereas the yeast used in baking is just the opposite - it produces much more CO2 than alcohol. That's why you don't bake with brewer's yeast, or brew with baker's yeast.

[Citation needed]. The biochemistry of anaerobic conversion of sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide produces a fixed ratio of alcohol to carbon dioxide, independent of the yeast strain. The main difference would be that baker's yeast has to be rapid-growing (the bread has only a few hours to leaven), while brewer's/wine yeast can take more time but must survive under high alcohol concentrations.

Re:Bloody hell! (2)

dAzED1 (33635) | about 5 years ago | (#27424867)

stick to your first point. /. has always done the stupid April's fools stuff, and it's not remotely supposed to be taken seriously.

Re:Bloody hell! (1)

mikek2 (562884) | about 5 years ago | (#27424937)

stick to your first point. /. has always done the stupid April's fools stuff, and it's not remotely supposed to be taken seriously.

Yes, they always have. But this one approaches idiocy.

Yet, I still subscribe.

Re:Bloody hell! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27424929)

As far as peeing into the ocean, good ol'e Mother Nature produces 97% of the worlds CO2 output. Man only contributes 3%.

Re:Bloody hell! (3, Informative)

2.7182 (819680) | about 5 years ago | (#27424935)

Actually, the biggest tax benifits to companies that use up CO2 goes to Coke and McDonalds. They remove CO2 from the atmosphere, and from a "loophole" in the law, this counts as having a negative CO2 footprint. No doubt this law was written to benefit them. Of course the CO2 returns to the atmosphere.

Re:Bloody hell! (4, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | about 5 years ago | (#27424783)

Its naught spelled with awl capitols either. Language devolves, and people grammer wrong. Get used^H too it.

Re:Bloody hell! (4, Insightful)

azav (469988) | about 5 years ago | (#27424999)

Lame. I'll bet you pronounce nuclear just like Bush as new-que-lurr. Look, if you don't pay attention to at least adhering to a simple standard, you'll look like sloppy to the people who do. Mastering grammar school English composition is a commendable achievement. But if you're going to be sloppy and not pay attention to the details, you inflict your lack of standards on everyone who has to read your work. It's a case of "if you want to look like a sloppy person who does not even proofread his own work, that's fine, but please keep it away from us who don't want to see your lack of attention to detail." Remember that you're penning/typing your message not for yourself but for others to read, you should at least be respectful of the people reading and proof your own work.

Re:Bloody hell! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27424933)

You skipped a comma before your quoted text and the majority of your text could have been condensed into one sentence. You get a C.

Re:Bloody hell! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27424949)

People like the op only accept the language changes they learned and none thereafter. Please use thou instead of you, if you insist on being so unchangeable. There never was 1 holy doctrine of "English" that was written down and then "devolved".

Re:exactly as much as nothing (1)

HollyMolly-1122 (1480249) | about 5 years ago | (#27424989)

If we put on the scales the cars, the coal power stations - it's nothing. Better take one chilling drink, than think on the doom that planet is undergoing just because of few people will and understanding. Any energy harness should be harmonic to the nature. It's never based on the business we know today. We achieve the speed of developing in promises that this will always be in the word of progress. That newer become true. All over unit power we get, we always spend at the start for our personal needs, so we lay ourselves that we will be honest and we never are so. That would be just nature will to place us back into stone age if we are not capable of keeping promises or we don't want to harness energy harmonically to the nature. It's less we have, but its forever we could want it.

No more than cattle (1, Insightful)

celardore (844933) | about 5 years ago | (#27424659)

But more importantly, why you going after beer man? Not cool.

Re:No more than cattle? WTF? (5, Informative)

tpgp (48001) | about 5 years ago | (#27424849)

Comparing Cattle production (more CO2 equiv emissions than transport [fao.org]) and the alcohol industry? WTF?

Cattle production is a significant cause of soil compaction, topsoil degradation, coral reef degeneration, methane emissions, acid rain, water contamination (with cow shit / hormones / antibiotics).... I could go on & on.

One of the easiest things you can do to help the environment is consume less beef & dairy products.

No 'more' than cattle. Yeesh!

We All Know (1)

fm6 (162816) | about 5 years ago | (#27424667)

As we all know (unless you've been asleep for years)...

Or you're good at selectively quoting the evidence.

Re:We All Know (1)

Osric250 (1388823) | about 5 years ago | (#27424709)

What?!? Nobody would ever selectively quote evidence! If it's stated on the world wide blogosphere then it must be fact!

Re:We All Know (1)

janeuner (815461) | about 5 years ago | (#27424969)

Can you even classify the quoted material as evidence?

At best, there is a correlation between CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere and the average temperature. Correlation does not imply causation.

Please stop (1, Insightful)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | about 5 years ago | (#27424681)

It's never been funny. Just stop.

Re:Please stop (3, Insightful)

owlnation (858981) | about 5 years ago | (#27424787)

It's never been funny. Just stop.

No, that's not true. OMG Poniez!!!1! was funny. It's just unfortunate that Taco has not yet topped it.

This year hasn't been that great, I'm afraid. Next year Taco... there's always next year.

carbon neutral (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27424691)

The actual brewing process is carbon neutral, provided you include the growing of the plants in the calculations.

Lrn 2 math n00b!

Re:carbon neutral (2, Insightful)

Phase Shifter (70817) | about 5 years ago | (#27424925)

Well, if you count growing the plants and fermentation alone it's a carbon sink, because a lot of carbon ends up in stems and other unused parts.

Then you have fuel used for transportation, energy used in sugar extraction, grain-based drinks require roasting the grains, hard liquor requires distillation, and a few types are aged in charred oak barrels. All of these processes require additional energy, which may or may not be carbon neutral. Then again, there would be similar amounts of fuel/energy required to, for instance, process vegetables and deliver them to your supermarket, and then cook them on your stove.

Perfect opportunity for a Simpson's quote (5, Funny)

Bezultek (1109675) | about 5 years ago | (#27424693)

Alcohol - The cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems.

Re:Perfect opportunity for a Simpson's quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27424987)

"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."

what matters is where the carbon came from (5, Insightful)

petermgreen (876956) | about 5 years ago | (#27424697)

Carbon from biomass is just cycling in and out of the atmosphere, no big deal.

The problem is digging up carbon that has been buried for millions of years and releasing it (either directly into the atnosphere or into a place where it is likely to get released).

Re:what matters is where the carbon came from (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27424813)

Sweet. I can burn my yard waste without feeling bad now. I'll even crack open a beer while doing it.

BTW, the fuel used in the production of the biomass that's converted to alcohol is still a problem. Also, the energy used by the distillery is also a problem.

You think like a ReThuglican Jew (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27424941)

You think like a ReThuglican Jew

NO! (4, Insightful)

dmomo (256005) | about 5 years ago | (#27424699)

Slow News day? Correlation is not Causation? This thread is useless without pics? Whatever it takes; NO!

For the love of all that's sacred... the answer is NO NO NO! Please dear God.. NO! Because without Alcohol .. does a world even exist?

are our childrens learning? (5, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 5 years ago | (#27424703)

is aliens probing us rectally?

is beer causing global warming farts?

how is babby formed?

issues are the complicated. i try to thinks hard abouts them when i'm on the toilets. and i push reals hard and out come deep thoughts like: pubs cause global warming

i am the smarts type person with the deeply thinking type stuff

CO2 is Balanced (2, Informative)

kramer2718 (598033) | about 5 years ago | (#27424705)

Actually shouldn't have TOO much effect. I can't comment on the cylinders of CO2 used in pumping or carbonation, but the CO2 that the yeast releases is balanced by the CO2 which the plant absorb in order to produce the sugar that is fermented.

As to how many petrochemicals/fossil fuels are used in the production/creation of those plants and that sugar, that's a different story, but that is less related to alcohol specifically and more to how our agricultural/transportation system function generally.

Now you've gone too far (1)

confused one (671304) | about 5 years ago | (#27424713)

threatening my beer and whiskey. Just for that I'm gonna crack open a cold one and go fire up the grill, for no reason other than making mass quantities of CO2!

No net change (5, Informative)

l79327 (174203) | about 5 years ago | (#27424717)

Ethenol is fermented from plant products, no net change in CO2. The CO2 in the keg system is taken from the air, no net change.

First they came for my beer, and I said nothing.

Re:No net change (4, Funny)

NoPantsJim (1149003) | about 5 years ago | (#27424859)

First they came for my beer, and I said nothing.

Shit, if they came for my beer I'd have one hell of a lot to say about the matter.

Grains (5, Informative)

cocodrylo (1521801) | about 5 years ago | (#27424725)

Alcohol is made from breaking down grains or other starches. Those plants gather CO2 from the air. So the consumption of alcohol doesn't really add to the problem. That is, at least only to the extent that agriculture does. If you're really worried about CO2 related to your food/beverage intake, you should cut back on meat, which has 8x-10x as much of a carbon footprint per calorie than grains. I guess alcohol would be somewhere in between.

Is Slashdot Killing our Planet? (5, Informative)

Bruce Perens (3872) | about 5 years ago | (#27424727)

We all know that the posting of really silly, unscientific stories on Slashdot increases the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere due to the tremendous amount of electricity exhausted in the transfer, dowmloading, and display of those stories, not to mention the CO2 output of the readers, who, at least most of them, exhale carbon dioxide! Something must be done!

Re:Is Slashdot Killing our Planet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27424981)

Last Post!

I'd doubt it. (2, Insightful)

MrCrassic (994046) | about 5 years ago | (#27424733)

I haven't done any research on this, but if I had to make an educated guess, I highly doubt it does, especially when placed in comparison to emissions from environmentally-unfriendly automobiles, CFCs from spray products and other ozone-depleting contributors. Additionally, correct me if I'm wrong, but I highly doubt that manufacturing beer emits tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

If it does, then pop beverage would probably be just as big, if not a bigger, contributor to the greenhouse effect, which I highly doubt to be true.

Good question.

By yeast, not at all. (3, Insightful)

david.given (6740) | about 5 years ago | (#27424757)

...because the carbon produced by yeast comes from sugar, which comes from plants, which comes from the atmosphere. Remember, it's only new carbon that causes a problem. Recycling atmospheric carbon is fine.

Bottled carbon dioxide is likely to be new carbon, as one of the major production techniques involves decomposition of limestone with acid.

And, of course, any energy used in the beer production is likely to come from fossil fuels, which will release fossil carbon into the atmosphere.

Re:By yeast, not at all. (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 years ago | (#27424797)

And. or course, it's a very small percentage of the release of previously housed carbon.

We gat all the cars to be electric, charged from Nuclear or industrial solar thermal then we might want to take a look at this. Maybe.

HTFDTGOTFPOSD? (how the *&%$ did this get on t (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27424773)

...front page of slashdot?

Just like ethanol and biofuel (1)

usul294 (1163169) | about 5 years ago | (#27424807)

C02 gets pulled out of the air to make the plants you ferment to make booze, and the fermenting process lets some of this go, when you digest it the carbon becomes part of you or respirated out. Eventually all of the carbon goes back, its a cycle.

if you take away my beer! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27424837)

you'll have to replace it with marijuana!

it that emits CO2 as well, you might as well legalize LSD!

fuck Al Gore!

We All Know? (1)

iconic999 (1295483) | about 5 years ago | (#27424843)

"As we all know (unless you've been asleep for years), CO2 is helping to warm our planet, sending us into destruction." "We" all know this? You and the mouse in your pocket?

The real culprit is Dihydrogen Monoxide (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27424845)

Dihydrogen Monoxide levels are associated with 100% of the yeast fermentation on the planet.

Yeast cannot exist without Dihydrogen Monoxide.

Dihydrogen Monoxide is a known greenhouse gas.

Dihydrogen Monoxide is found in all cancer cells.

Dihydrogen Monoxide can be found in some levels in corpses 100% of the time.

Dunno Sparky (1)

AssTard (684911) | about 5 years ago | (#27424851)

But you might try figuring out Their, They're, and There. Until then, allow me to file this under Rants of The Ingnorami. Or should I say... Until than? LOL ROFLERS!!!

Does anyone know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27424861)

Does anyone know?

I've just done some research, by downing a large portion of assorted booze, and I'd like to tell you this: I don't care. Bwahahahaha.

Goddamn scientific illeracy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27424863)

OK the moronic question posed, the inbred spelling of "THEIR" and the scientifically retarded summation are sure enough to attract Al Gore and other pseudo scientific eco-cunts. The OP and whoever allowed that crap to get posted on Slashdot should be drowned in a large vat of warm whale spunk!

Re:Goddamn scientific illeracy! (1)

Q-Hack! (37846) | about 5 years ago | (#27424955)

The OP and whoever allowed that crap to get posted on Slashdot should be drowned in a large vat of warm whale spunk!

There is a visual I just didn't need... on the rest of your post, however, I completely agree.

It could kill a mouse (1)

LowlyWorm (966676) | about 5 years ago | (#27424869)

I am in the process of making about 3 gallons of homemade strawberry wine. It has only been fermenting for about a week and a half. I am sure the mash could kill small animals. That poor little mouse must have been kicking around in there for days:). The way it bubbles and moves I am wondering if it is sentient and I keep getting this strange feeling I am being watched...

Re:It could kill a mouse (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 5 years ago | (#27425015)

We need to ascertain what you intended your post to say.  You are brewing strawberry wine, of course.  It's been fermenting for about ten days.  And, you found a mouse in the wine?  And, the mouse is watching you?  Seems obvious to me, you will get no wine, because the mouse intends to drink it all.  You could get a cat, I guess, but the cat may kick the mouse out, and keep the wine for itself.

No but it did wonders for your mom (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | about 5 years ago | (#27424883)

Especially before you were born.

Seriously, did you do any research at all before posting this? It's not even worth posting a link to "Let me google that for you".com

Bottled CO2? (1)

krygny (473134) | about 5 years ago | (#27424901)

"And don't forget that bars and pubs force beer through to there pumps using large compressed cylinders of CO2. Does anyone know?"

Where do you suppose bottled CO2 comes from? The same place to which it returns. The air. This looks like an April Fool's post (but you never know). It's really stupid but it's not that funny or clever.

No (1)

fermion (181285) | about 5 years ago | (#27424905)

One issue to consider is the time frame. When we burn fossil fuels, we are releasing carbon and other particulates that have been sequestered for millions of years(this may be one reason why the young earthers do not believe in climate change). When one is burning fuel derived from new plant growth, the CO2 that has been processed through the plant last season is released the next season. The gap is not millions of years, but a sometimes a matter of months, not nearly enough time for the atmosphere and planet to settle on a new 'normal' for a new CO2 level. I know we are talking about fermentation, but the principle is the same. The yeasty beasties are releasing carbon that has been removed from the atmosphere, not a million years ago, but last year.

It is true that there are issues of burning fossil fuels in the production of the alcohol, but that is the same as everything else. If I did not go out for drinking, I would go out for dinner, or go out for to a movie. I cannot imagine that producing, distributing, and consuming a bottle of Perrier or soft drink consumes any more resources than average alcohol.

April Fools Joke? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27424911)

What I see is conflicts between Petroleum companies and environmentalists about CO2 emitions.
Alcohol prodution for cars for example will not add more CO2 in the air because plats will gather CO2.
Alcohol problem is with US tax payers who will contribute with fat midwest farmers.

not playin' (1)

jeillah (147690) | about 5 years ago | (#27424919)

Alcohol is the only thing that keeps me sane enough to keep from coming up with evil ways to destroy this fu*cked up planet we live on!!!

Another Global Warming Moron (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27424921)

Can't wait until the global warming idiots move on to a new sky is falling fear of the day. They use global warming for an excuse to do away with or regulate anything they don't like. Is that not obvious to everyone by now?

A drop in the pond (1)

jtoomim (217124) | about 5 years ago | (#27424945)

According to http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0360544204004888, fossil fuel CO2 emissions during the 1990s was 23.5 petagrams of CO2 per year. Ethanol consumption per capita in 2005 for the United States was 2.2 gallons (http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/Resource/GraphicsGallery/Epidemiology/consfigs1.htm), or 6.6 kg per person. Assuming that's roughly representative of the world as a whole (a generous estimate), the world drinks 44 teragrams of ethanol per year. Roughly, human ethanol consumption emits 0.2% of the CO2 that fossil fuel consumption does.

The mass of CO2 used to pressurize kegs is certainly trivial, since it occupies roughly the same volume as the ethanol with much lower density. Also, the CO2 used to pressurize them was produced as the byproduct of other industrial processes, so it shouldn't be counted twice.

Besides which, all of the carbon in ethanol came from the atmosphere anyway, so the net change is 0.

Yes it is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27424947)

Yes, alcohol is killing our planet. Alcohol makes dumb people more likely to breed with each other, pushing us closer and closer to the inevitable Idiocracy future.

WAY more CO2 is produced by transport and inputs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27424959)

Way more CO2 is produced by transporting the beverages and by growing the inputs to distilled beverages.

No, we don't "know" (2, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 5 years ago | (#27424965)

"As we all know (unless you've been asleep for years), CO2 is helping to warm our planet"

Instead, most of us have been "conditioned to know that CO2 is destroying the planet".  Big difference.

Re:No, we don't "know" (1)

Taikutusu (1479335) | about 5 years ago | (#27424993)

Indeed. I was trolling through the replies to see if anyone was going to say this, and I'm glad someone did. Then again, this must be an April Fools joke. Or at least I'll keep telling myself that.

Hey! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27424973)

It isn't the ONLY way to make it!
The industrial way is hydration of ethene...

compare it with biofuels (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27424995)

Alcohol for beverages is a net CO2producer because of the fermentation that needs energy + if you would evaluate it with the same criteria as bio-ethanolfuels, you could take in account the amount of land wasted, in favour of food production... I once tried to compare the amount of pure ethanol produced for alcoholic beverages with the amount bioethanolfuel and I came to a proportion of 1000/6.

Relax man, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27424997)

here, have a drink.

Photosynthesis? (1)

Gotenosente (1496667) | about 5 years ago | (#27425007)

IANAS(cientist), but couldn't the demand for oxygen-producing crops that go into beer creation offset the co2 produced by beer fermentation?

Bigger things to worry about (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27425029)

The CO2 used in the cylinders in bars for dispensing drinks is taken from the atmosphere, so when it is released back into the air, the net carbon gain is zero.

Many breweries capture the gases (such as methane--a potent greenhouse gas) given off during the brewing process and burn it to produce power.
http://polizeros.com/2009/01/24/brewery-recycles-waste-methane-into-electricity/

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