Eco Log

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Italian Public Transport Itinerary on Google Maps!

Amazing news!

The already vital Google Maps converts to public transport!!

If until today you needed to connect to the local public transport website in order to plan an itinerary in Italian cities  (in Rome  atac. roma.it) now for all the main Italian cities (Rome, Milan , Turin , Bologna, Firenze and so on) Google Maps is offering this free service!

you can check the following link to verify if the system covers your city:

http://maps.google.it/intl/it/landing/transit/

then all you need to do is inserting the starting and final addresses and clicking the bus icon busbus busin order to have all the public transport options for your itinerary!

All the possible public tranport means are considered: regional trains, underground(MEA and MEB), tram and buses :)

The service works also for itineraries between the city and the near towns (I tried Rome to Tivoli)!

I tested various itineraries inside Rome, and the service is perfect: I mean Google service,  obviously, since Rome public transport has big space for improvements : also Google Maps confirms, in order to cross the city of Rome from North to South (for example between Via Cassia to Eur) with any available option with any available means (trains , Underground/buses) you will need at least 2 hours  (you’d better grab a book before leaving) !

Maps

Enjoy your plan and your travel (and your reading too) i!


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A trip to London

On the river Thames, the Blackfriars tube and train station, have been closed for several months.

While planning my latest trip there in October, I was happy to find out it had re-opened and decided to stay in the area.

Public Transport in London is almost legendary and planning a connection to the airport may include many options.

I recently heard some complains about the price of public transport in London (usually from non-english people living there), but my respect for the english Public Transport grows and grows.

This time I was not disappointed either.

In my opinion the English people do not complain about price since they value the service for what it’s worth: many Italians are so used to own a car that they are ready to pay for it a great amount of money!! I myself spent 2000 Euros last here to mantain my car (a Smart car) and I was driving 8000 km that is a low distance (translate to low fuel expence) for the average citizen of Rome: I am sincerly doubting owning a car is worth it even in Rome.

People living in London usually do not own a private car, what would they own it for?!!

They have the best railway system of the world and the buses run all night!

You can plan your trip to the City of Westminster (and save a great amount of money) checking the following websites:

NationalRail

SouthernTrains

I found out that traveling from Gatwick to BlackFriars station (at walking distance by St Paul) took the same time (35 minutes) than the Gatwick express for half price!

Also the BlackFriars station renewed was an experience in itself!

At 4:30 AM (low cost flights require strong people) I was welcomed by the cleaning and working staff who were at work and smiling!

Everything was illuminated (hihi)

On the platform I found some very useful information on some informative signs

The refurbishing works of the bridge included a major improvement: the whole station is now powered by Solar Panels laying on top of the bridge!

Looking up over my head I could make out the solar panels shape on the roof: for better understanding you can check this pic:

Poweful Blackfriars bridge refurbished in 2012

Poweful Blackfriars bridge refurbished in 2012

The panels on top of the bridge are 4400: this is the largest solar roof in the world!!!

Powerful people the English, I wish Italians to be inspired by such enterprises.

Here in Rome in particular, we lack inspiration: waiting years for a single tube station or cycling path to be added, how sad 😦


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Climate Change: the alarm is ringing!

Roma, Italy. Novembre 2012. Sun.

Maybe nowadays I’m paying more attention, but I can’t remember a November so warm in Rome.
The small tomato plant in my balcony has finally produced two cherry tomatoes. I didn’t switch on the heating yet (temperature inside the house has never gone below 17 degrees Celsius: I didn’t turn mad!). I keep on wearing the same clothes day by day.

Green leaves and blue sky in Rome’s November 2012


I find out that there’s a way to double check. The website ilmeteo.it publishes the weather data related to the last years at this link, for any Italian city.
I extracted a small statistic about November in Rome in the last five years:

Numbers may look “impersonal”, but they don’t lie.
With small up and downs the temperature is raising relentlessly. When my eye falls on 2007 , medium Temperature 10,4 degrees, I shiver a little bit.

This November in Rome we had almost only sunny days. We had only an emergency: the Tiber flood: the river suddenly flooded after the heavy rains in Tuscany.

No good news.

Bristol, UK. November 2012. Flood.

In 2005 I spent November in Bristol, UK. It was so cold that I bought: the longest socks ever, the longest jacket ever and a collection of gloves and scarves. In the morning I was looking out of the window and everything was white: it wasn’t snow it was “Frost”: in the night it was so cold that the earth was freezing: it was very impressive. Even the rain was not light but a real english rain! I remember the sensation of being washed out by rain while opening the door to get out and the “horizontal rain” while looking at the rain falling near a street lamp on the bridge crossing the Severn.
But in the end it was me who was not used to it, for the English everything was normal.

Not this November. This November Bristol , Somerset and all the South-West is being hit by the worst flood of the last years: it continues to rain on the earth already melted by water of the previous rains with tragic consequences (yesterday a tree has fallen killing a camping girl of 21). The streets have become rivers, people are struggling.

Bristol streets flooded in these November 2012 days


New York, USA. November 2012. Storm Sandy.

What shall I say. Sceintists has explained that the reason is very simple: the ocean temperature is raising. The warmer temperature of the sea surfaces causes storms. Storms bigger and bigger.

It was Radiohead concert to push me: yes, the Greenpeace stand about the Save the Artic campaign! From their website I followed a link to a beautiful article published by Rolling Stones that you can read here.
After reading I decided to try to understand something more about Climate Change: since I was basically ignorant on the argument and since I keep a good memory of Leo Hickman’s book “My life stripped bare” I recalled that Leo wrote also a book for children about Climate Change with the amazing title “Will Jellyfish Rule The World?“: I decided a teen-age book was a good start for me.
Even though since I was reading the book in Englush I spent at least 15 minutes asking myself who was Doctor Greenhouse and which his so called “Greenhouse effect” (Thanks Leo for clarifying that the greenhouse gases are so called after the house you put plants in winter not after a man ;)) ) the book is a real good starting point:
the truth hurts, but I think only the truth can open our eyes and only with eyes open we can proceed instead of loosing ourselves forever along the way: therefore I am feeling better now that I know a little piece more of the truth: ignorance hurts more.

The countries that met in Kyoto for the first time in 1997 to discuss climate change had already clear the problem: the CO2 emissions are responsible for the global warming, that due to the current emission’s trend is proceeding.
The disaster to avoid is the raise of the global temperature of more than 2 degrees.
The only way to avoid it is reducing CO2 and other greenhouse gases emissions.

The country that met in Kyoto were agreeing on the problem, not on the solution.

15 years later how is it going?

Awarness is increasing. Famous people like ex US vice-president Al Gore, author of the documentary “An inconvenient truth” , are using their popularity to bring to the masses attention the problemla. But it is not enough yet.
The last Climate conference in Durban , South Africa, in Dicember 2011, has been boicotted by major countries governments: the US did never sign the Kyoto protocol, and this time Russia, Giappone e Canada “stepped back” from their commitment.

Oil multinationals are trying to dig the artic to extract more oil to introduce in the system ( to be burn increasing CO2 emissions) : from Leo’s book I discovered that by burning the CURRENT reserves of Oil we would already emit enough CO2 to reach the 2 degrees warming goal!

In 2011 the world scored the record of CO2 emissions in history.

In a report the World Bank (!!) alerts that at the current emission rate in 2060 the global temperature will have increased 4 degrees.

Do you feel helpless?

You can download the World Bank report at this link.

Starting today (by chance), 26th November 2012 to Dicember 6th, the countries that signed the Kyoto paper (UNFCCC) are meeting again in Doha for the World Conference on Climate 2012. The commition works can be followed at this link and on Twitter (ash tags “#unfccc #cop18”) where comments can be sent and shared.

We don’t lack the information. We have the chance to understand what’s happening and to avoid that also this Conference on Climate Change fails in the general indifference.

One of my favourite songs (Bad, U2) says : “If I could I would, let it go : but I am wide awake, I am not sleeping.”
Don’t sleep. Stay awake.


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The Carbon “Footstep”

Hi all,
Also today to spend some time I calculated my Carbon Footprint using the tool available on the websita “Global Footprint Network
Here is the depressing result:

I was a bit upset by the result: even if I am below the national average my life style is not sustainable at all: it would take 2 planets and half to bear all people like me!

The system gives you a chance to reduce your “footprint” modifying the data entered: I improved a bit reaching 4,2 global hectares decreasing the fish/diaries consumption to 4 times/week and especially decreasing the flying hours: I already knew that my love for cheap low cost Week Ends in Europe is my weak point and that it weights heavily on the planeth in terms of CO2: I believe a reasonable target to begin with would be 10 hours flight per year ( 2 short trips in Europe or one longer outside Europe…) as well as decreasing the car travel distance (especially home-work) to 80 km (even if , for those like me working at 50 km “return” from home this means driving to work only once in a week)

Since trying only one tool wouldn’t have scientifical meaning I made a second attempt with the WWF tool:

This tool make different questions (do you have a pet? / what temperature is your home heated? ), and my result was even more tragic!!

We would need 3 planeths amd half for people like me!

Also on this tool you can see travels have very bad impact (plane) and so do have the daily trip home-work: there is a lot of work to be done and big space for improvement in 2013!! As a first step this week I will leave the car at home!  (…thanks God I came with the bus today!! ;))

Good luck to all with the footprint calculator!!


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Cold is enemy of fresh

**Some people say “better is enemy of good” : which I hate since I am a perfectionist and every time I hear this I think it is said by some lazy and idle person …but it inspired me the title 😉 

I admit it: one of my favorite shows is  “kitchen nightmares” in which Gordon Ramsey visits horror restaurants and tries to redeem and save them giving advices to the owners : the best moment form me is when Gordon opens the fridge cell and discovers unbelievable horrors living inside it!!

Who has never discovered in the bottom shelf an antique covered by disgusting mould? And who, after cleaning out the horror has not set all the new stuff in order believing that Never Again a similar waste will happen again?!

Here I am : this month mission is empty the fridge, switch it off and reaching Christmas with the fridge switched off.

I know you will say it is an anachronistic folly: like pretending to spend a month with candle lights. But I am not (yet hi hi) so crazy: I can’t banish electric power completely, but as I already realized some posts ago the fridge is overrated:

Especially for those living alone keeping a closet that consumes more power than any other domestic appliance is a luxury one could live without (particularly in winter).

What I am storing in the fridge?

some frozen veg: I could just avoid buying them and buy day by day only the fresh vegs that I really want to eat!

cheese:truly there are only parmesan and the mythical caciocavallo from the country: both come from a place where they season outside a fridge: at fixed temperature but I am sure not in a fridge

eggs (few) : in the supermarket they don’t keep them in the fridge, ergo I believe they can be stored outside the fridge for some days (these days the house is at maximum 18 degrees)

fresh vegs:  like above: I can buy these on a daily basis

milk: ehi , there is the rub! milk can’t survive not refrigerated : but can I power the whole fridge only for the milk?!! NO: I will drink my beloved cappuccino at the bar, and seldom I will buy fresh milk for cooking and make a cappuccino :).

And now lets start the mission: the target of the 1st week is emptying the fridge! (and it will be fast… )


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Save the Artic!

I have known of Greenpeace campaign thanks to Radiohead: I was heading to their concert in Rome (by bus since they asked not to go by car) and I read that I would have found there a stand with Greenpeace people and even a white bear, Paula, that was touring with them to support the Save The Artic campaign.

                           Paula at Capannelle in front of Radiohead’s stage

Thom Yorke is deeply involved in the support of causes related to the issues our planet is facing, and the band is really supporting this campaign, bringing Greenpeace in all the tour with them, and asking people queueing for the gigs to sign.
Radiohead’s song “Everything in it’s right place” is also the soundtrack for the campaign’s beautiful video, please take 1:36 to look at it:
http://youtu.be/4XpF04nximI

This campaign is really a key and fundamental one:
Big oil companies are looking forward to the artic as the new frontier to dig the deepest oil pits ever in order to extract new tonnes of oil: but we can stop them: that’s why I am writing this post to stand by the campaign and ask you to join us by signing here: http://www.savethearctic.org/

If you signed at one of the Radiohead shows here is what Thom would have written you to thank you for signing ( since I think his words are a lot better than mine I am borrowing them): “thank you for signing up to protect the Arctic. We have to stop the oil giants pushing into the Arctic. An oil spill in the Arctic would devastate this region of breath-taking beauty, while burning that oil will only add to the biggest problem we all face, climate change. That’s why I’m backing this campaign”

Save The Artic campaign has been signed today by 2.115.203 people in the world, the goal is reaching 3.000.000, let’s make this happen!


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Urban ecology in Paris

Paris has many neighborhoods ( Arrondismont): 20.
Each one, apart from being connected by the most famous world underground service (together with London’s), has equal opportunities. Whether you decide to take a stroll in Place d’Italie or at Grand Boulevards getting out of the Metrò you will find some common elements:

Big streets with large walking paths at least  2 meters wide

A parc
A biblioteque at walking distance
and in the latest years one of the thousands “stations” of Velib: the city shared bike service 🙂

Parc de Choisy (Metro Place d’Italie)

In the neighborhood of the Market “d’Aligre”, under the Opera Bastille, an old overground line of the Metro’, 4,5km long, out of use, has been tuned into a Public Parc! It’s the “Promenade Planté”: it runs among the houses and up there, among bamboo woods, climbing roses and lavand bushes the Parisiennes take a break reading a book, running, take children biking, have a picnic…

Promenade Plantè (Metro Bastille)

In the meantime, in the famous Tuleries gardens any inhabitant or visitor in Paris can seat down to sunbathe or have a chat in one of the thousands free garden chairs provided by the municipality (Mairie de Paris).
The entrance to the Jardin des Plantes also is free, you pay the ticket only for visiting one of the greenhouses where tropical or primordial plants are risen, or the zoo and the natural history museum.

Viale di Platani al Jardin des Plantes

Smaller gardens, clean, well kept and circled by gates, generally including children toys, will show themselves in any of the smaller squares, are you near St. Germain, St.Michel , or in the Muslim district (Place Monge), or near the Burse, the Marais, or Montmartes[…]

Piccolo giardino in Rue Richelieu

And taking a look up, you will realize , that this colture is so diffused that any small balcony , boat bridge, window sill, or even any window space (behind glasses) has been turned by the Paris people in a little private forest.

Balconi in Rue Mouffettard (Metro Place Monge)