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Monday, December 7, 2009

FRANCE-tourist destination

While Metropolitan France is located in Western Europe, France also has a number of territories in North America, the Caribbean, South America, the southern Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, and Antarctica. These territories have varying forms of government ranging from overseas department to overseas collectivity.

Metropolitan France covers 547,030 square kilometres (211,209 sq mi), having the largest area among European Union members and slightly larger than Spain. France possesses a wide variety of landscapes, from coastal plains in the north and west to mountain ranges of the Alps in the south-east, the Massif Central in the south-central and Pyrenees in the south-west. At 4,807 metres (15,771 ft) above sea-level, the highest point in Western Europe, Mont Blanc, is situated in the Alps on the border between France and Italy. Metropolitan France also has extensive river systems such as the Loire, the Garonne, the Seine and the Rhône, which divides the Massif Central from the Alps and flows into the Mediterranean Sea at the Camargue, the lowest point in France (2 m/6.56 ft below sea level). Corsica lies off the Mediterranean coast.

The Exclusive Economic Zone of France extends over 11,000,000 km2 (4,000,000 sq mi) of ocean across the world.

France's total land area, with its overseas departments and territories (excluding Adélie Land), is 674,843 km2 (260,558 sq mi), 0.45% of the total land area on Earth. However, France possesses the second-largest Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the world, covering 11,035,000 km2 (4,260,637 sq mi), approximately 8% of the total surface of all the EEZs of the world, just behind the United States (11,351,000 km2/4,382,646 sq mi) and ahead of Australia (8,232,000 km2/3,178,393 sq mi).

Metropolitan France is situated between 41° and 51° North, on the western edge of Europe, and thus lies within the northern temperate zone. The north and northwest have a temperate climate, while a combination of maritime influences, latitude and altitude produce a varied climate in the rest of Metropolitan France. In the south-east a Mediterranean climate prevails. In the west, the climate is predominantly oceanic with a high level of rainfall, mild winters and cool to warm summers. Inland the climate becomes more continental with hot, stormy summers, colder winters and less rain. The climate of the Alps and other mountainous regions is mainly alpine, with the number of days with temperatures below freezing over 150 per year and snow cover lasting for up to six months.

ITALY-tourist destination


Italy is located in Southern Europe and comprises the long, boot-shaped Italian Peninsula, the land between the peninsula and the Alps, and a number of islands including Sicily and Sardinia. Its total area is 301,230 km², of which 294,020 km² is land and 7,210 km² is water. Including islands, Italy has a coastline and border of 7,600 km on the Adriatic, Ionian, Tyrrhenian seas (740 km), and borders shared with France (488 km), Austria (430 km), Slovenia (232 km) and Switzerland; San Marino (39 km) and the Vatican City (3.2 km), both entirely surrounded by Italy, account for the remainder. The Apennine Mountains form the peninsula's backbone; the Alps form its northern boundary. The largest of its northern lakes is Garda (143 sq mi/370 km2); in the centre is Trasimeno Lake. The Po, Italy's principal river, flows from the Alps on the western border and crosses the great Padan plain to the Adriatic Sea. Several islands form part of Italy; the largest are Sicily (9,926 sq mi/25,708 km2) and Sardinia (9,301 sq mi/24,089 km2).


Italy is a volcanically active country, containing the only active volcano in mainland Europe. The country's volcanism is due chiefly to the presence, a short distance to the south, of the boundary between the Eurasian Plate and the African Plate. The magma erupted by Italy's volcanoes is thought to result from the upward forcing of rocks melted by the subduction of one plate below another.

There are several active volcanoes in Italy: Etna, the second-largest active volcano in Europe; Vulcano; Stromboli; and Vesuvius, the only active volcano on the mainland of Europe.


The climate in Italy is highly diverse and can be far from the stereotypical Mediterranean climate depending on the location. Most of the inland northern areas of Italy, for example Turin, Milan and Bologna, have a continental climate often classified as humid subtropical (Köppen climate classification Cfa). The coastal areas of Liguria and most of the peninsula south of Florence generally fit the Mediterranean stereotype (Köppen climate classification Csa). The coastal areas of the peninsula can be very different from the interior higher altitudes and valleys, particularly during the winter months when the higher altitudes tend to be cold, wet, and often snowy. The coastal regions have mild winters and warm and generally dry summers, although lowland valleys can be quite hot in summer.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

maintain our environment clean and green

Keep plants around the house. Plants are amazing at cleaning their environment. Having them in your house can reduce indoor air pollutants by more than half. Great choices are English ivy and peace lilies, which absorb toxic gases like benzene and formaldehyde. Just be sure that if you have pets and/or small children that you opt for plants that are not poisonous.

Never flush your old medications. In almost everyone’s medicine cabinet there is expired medications. But whatever you do, do not flush them! That puts them into the water, which can be dangerous. Instead inquire at your pharmacy about whether they will take them and dispose of them properly. If they cannot handle them they will at least be able to tell you where you can take them.

Don’t waste heat when the fireplace is on. An open fireplace wastes up to 85% of the gas it uses because, like a wood-burning fireplace, the fire sucks heat from inside and sends it out through the chimney. Direct-vent gas fireplaces burn more efficiently and can save you money.

Use less water when you bathe. Baths typically use less water than showers. So whenever possible opt for a soak in the tub. If you prefer showers keep them short. Ten minutes is way too long. And be sure to install a low-flow showerhead and faucet to reduce the amount of water. You can cut back nearly 50% of the water used and barely even notice the difference.

Install new toilets. Newer toilets use significantly less water than older ones. And the low-flush toilets not only conserve water but they actually reduce the greenhouse gases produced in the water-purification process. If you can’t afford to buy a new toilet, a great alternative is to place a plastic water bottle – with the cap on – in the tank. Doing so means less water is used for each flush.

Have it fixed instead of throwing it out. With the price of many consumer goods getting less and less every year, it’s tempting to simply replace old electronics and appliances when they break. But often they can be repaired for a fraction of the cost. Not only do you save money, but you’re keeping that item out of the landfill.

Hang your clothes to dry. The average household does more than 400 loads of laundry in a year. That is a lot of electricity to dry all those clothes! You can cut this down dramatically by hanging your clothes to dry. In the winter months opt for an indoor drying rack. When it’s warm outside you can move your indoor rack out to a deck or patio, or use an outdoor clothesline. There are many new styles of clotheslines available now that are easily removable when not in use or that can be elevated to keep them out of the way.

Reduce the waste when giving gifts. Instead of wrapping paper, choose newspaper (the comics work great when they’re in color), reusable gift bags or even leftover wallpaper. When you receive a gift packaged in a reusable material be sure to save it for later. Also save your greeting cards and recycle them into gift tags.

Reuse products whenever possible. Have you ever looked at just how much waste your family generates in a one week period? Manufacturers use so much packaging that it is easy for a family of four to have several bags of waste come garbage day. Next time you’re thinking of throwing something out, try and think of ways you can reuse it instead. For example old containers can be used for storage, stained clothing can be used as rags for cleaning and broken hockey sticks make great garden stakes. If you get creative you may be surprised how many new uses you can find for items you thought were trash!

Donate things you don’t use any more. Instead of throwing out items you don’t use anymore, give them to charity. Old clothing, shoes, home décor items, sporting goods and toys are all happily accepted by charities such as the Salvation Army. You’ll have less clutter in your garage and your donation will help families in need.

Say no to junk mail. So much paper is wasted on sending junk mail and flyers. Put up a sign on your mailbox refusing these items and send a message to advertisers that you want them to change their marketing techniques. If enough people do this they will eventually listen.

Use cloth instead of paper. Using paper napkins and paper towels generates a lot of unnecessary waste. Did you know that the paper industry is the third greatest contributor to global warming emissions? So instead of paper, opt for cloth. A great source of rags is to use old clothes that are too stained or tattered to be worn anymore.

Use rechargeable batteries. If yours is like most households, you have a lot of things that run on batteries. Everything from the TV remote to your camera. And if you have children you can add a seemingly endless number of toys to the list! Do the environment a favor and use rechargeable batteries. They cost more upfront but they generate significantly less waste and in the end will save you money. Solar powered battery rechargers are even available online.

Find out what you can recycle. Different cities accept different items for recycling. It is important that you know exactly what is being recycled in your area. A lot of people put out items week after week thinking they are being recycled when in fact they are being thrown in the garbage at the recycling facility. By knowing the policies in your city you can avoid buying products that are not sold in recyclable containers and you can ensure you are putting out all of your garbage that can be recycled.

Dispose of hazardous materials properly. Most municipalities have programs for properly disposing of hazardous materials such as old tires, batteries, electronics, used oil materials and toxic substances such as paint and paint thinners. Be sure to inquire in your area about programs designed to keep these potentially dangerous materials out of the landfills.

Install water saving showerheads and faucet aerators. Heating water accounts for approximately 15% of the average household energy bill. Cut this down by installing water saving showerheads and aerators on kitchen faucets. They use nearly 60% less water and chances are you won’t even notice the difference (until you get your electricity bill!)

Use all natural cleaning products. Almost all household cleaning can be done using vinegar, baking soda and water. Use vinegar as a natural disinfectant, deodorizer, all purpose cleaner and window cleaner and add it to the rinse cycle of your laundry as a fabric softener. Clean your bathtub, toilet and counters with a paste of baking soda and water. If you prefer to use commercial cleaners, there are many companies now offering environmentally friendly versions.

Buy recycled products whenever possible. Many of the products that we use every day can be made from recycled materials. Doing so saves 70% - 90% of the energy and pollution versus using virgin materials. In particular, paper products are a great place for you to choose more environmentally friendly products. Look for bleach-free toilet paper and printing paper that are made from a minimum of 80% post-consumer waste content.

Reuse paper. A lot of the paper we recycle only has printing on one side. Instead of using a fresh piece every time, print on the other side for documents that are not important. You can also reuse paper as a scratch pad for notes or put them together as a pad and keep them next to the telephone for taking messages.

Read the news online. Daily newspapers generate a huge amount of waste. Even though this can be recycled, it is better to eliminate this unnecessary use of paper entirely. Instead of subscribing to newspaper services, read the news online. Think about how much paper this will save over an entire year!

Borrow books and magazines from the library. Libraries are a great resource for anyone looking to reduce the amount of waste they generate. Instead of purchasing books and magazines, check them out of the library.

Avoid dry-cleaning your clothes. The majority of dry cleaning chemicals are highly toxic. Not only are these chemicals harmful for the environment, but also they remain on your clothes as you continue to wear them, which can present a health risk. When buying clothes, opt for items that you can wash at home rather than needing to be dry-cleaned. And keep in mind that most items that say ‘dry clean only’ can actually be washed by hand with a mild detergent and cold water. If your garment absolutely cannot be hand washed, look for a cleaning service that practices wet cleaning instead of dry cleaning.

Don’t use antibacterial cleaners. We have become a society that is obsessed with living germ free. And we may be hurting ourselves more than we’re helping. Antibacterial cleaners contain a chemical known as triclosan, which is a form of dioxin. In addition to causing a variety of health related problems including decreased fertility and birth defects, this chemical is also mixing with the chlorine in our tap water and forming deadly chlorinated dioxins. So you’re better off just using regular soap. In fact, doing so will kill 99.4% of germs. Compare that with antibacterial soap that kills 99.6%.

Teach your children about being environmentally responsible. Our children really are the future of our earth. Start teaching them early about the importance of making environmentally friendly choices and it will become second nature to them. Make sure that you also practice what you preach! Kids are much more likely to do what they see you doing – rather than what you tell them to do.

Choose environmentally friendly baby products. The amount of chemicals used to create baby products today is staggering. Not to mention the amount of waste generated! Disposable diapers are the single largest type of garbage in our landfills. Refuse to contribute to the problem by using cloth diapers. Nowadays they are designed to be easy – no more pins! And many communities actually have services that drop off clean diapers each week and pick up the soiled ones.

Have a battery free Christmas. If you have children, make next Christmas “battery free”. Tell all family and friends that instead of toys that require batteries to run, that you would rather your children be given gifts such as books, puzzles and non-electronic toys. Not only will you help the environment by using less batteries, you’ll also save money and your kids will use their imaginations more. Even if you don’t have children of your own, make it a policy to only give battery free gifts.

Pay your bills electronically. Almost all companies now offer the option to receive your bills electronically and pay them through online banking or telephone banking. Save all that unnecessary paper by using this service.

Get involved in environmental charities. There are lots of different charities that are devoted to helping the environment. Whether you choose an international organization such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) or something more local, the important thing is to get involved. You’ll feel great, help a worthwhile cause and be setting a good example for the other people in your community.

Turn the tap off. Your mother probably told you to do it when you were a child, but do you? When brushing your teeth or shaving, always be sure to turn the water off. Even a few seconds can waste a tremendous amount of water unnecessarily. It’s a simple thing that can have a big impact on the amount of water used in your home.

Buy your energy from eco-friendly utility companies. There are many companies now offering electricity that is generated from renewable resources such as wind and low-impact hydroelectric generation. Inquire in your area about companies that use these services for all or part of their electricity and make the switch! If enough people start to do this, more and more companies will begin offering it.

Wash your car on the lawn. This does double duty – you get a clean car and you water your grass at the same time. Plus you are using a lot less water than is used at commercial car washes. Be sure to use a bucket or a trigger hose attachment so you only use the amount of water you need.

Sweep walkways, patios and driveways. Instead of spraying them down with your hose and wasting water, get out the old fashioned broom. They’re just going to get dirty again soon anyway!

Look for little ways you can make a difference. Sometimes the best thing we can do for the environment is to make small changes in our every day life. When we add them all up, we can make a significant difference. Look at everything you do in a day and see what you can do differently. For example, if you are a tea drinker only boil as much water as you need in the kettle. If you generate a lot of garbage think of a couple of ways you can cut back.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Follow these steps to live green

When buying your groceries, remember the four Ns. Choose food that is NATURAL, (meaning no pesticides have been used and it is as minimally processed as possible), NAKED (as little packaging as possible), NUTRITIOUS and NOW (in season).

Buy your food locally whenever possible. Most cities have farmer’s markets where you can purchase produce, meats, breads and baked goods from local vendors. Not only are you supporting your local economy, but these are usually fresher and healthier options. You can also talk to the seller directly to find out their practices when it comes to the use of pesticides, hormones and preservatives. An added bonus is that the food wasn’t trucked in which means less fuel usage and fewer emissions.

Pack lunches in reusable containers. The amount of packaging used for food nowadays is staggering. Help reduce it how you can by opting for reusable containers when packing lunches. There are lots of options available in a variety of different sizes so you can pack everything you need. Be sure to include reusable silverware if needed as well.

Purchase products you use often in bulk. Single serving food products are a huge waste of packaging materials. By buying in bulk you cut down on the amount of packaging that needs to be thrown out and buying more at a time means less trips to the store to pick things up.

Compost your kitchen waste. Composting your fruits and vegetables is an excellent way to cut down on the amount of garbage going in to our landfill sites, and provides nutrient rich soil that you can use in your garden. Some communities are now starting city run composting programs so be sure to check for a program like this where you live.

Don’t waste water while waiting for it to heat up. Running the tap while waiting for the water to heat up is an unnecessary waste. Instead of letting this run down the drain, catch it in a pitcher or pot and use it to water your plants, save it for cooking or put it in the fridge as drinking water.

Use less energy when you cook. There are several things you can do to cut back on the energy you use when cooking. When boiling water put a lid on the pot and it will boil faster. Once it is boiling, turn down the heat (water that is lightly boiling is the same temperature). Most foods don’t require the oven to be preheated so don’t waste energy on this. When using the oven for cooking items such as roasts, you can turn it off for the last 15 minutes and the heat left will finish the cooking. All of these can help you to use less energy in the kitchen.

Thaw foods before cooking them. It takes longer – and uses more energy - to cook foods from frozen. Instead, think ahead about what you will be cooking and when and thaw it first. Likewise, take items out of the fridge before it is time to put them in the oven to bring them up to room temperature.

Keep drinking water in the refrigerator. Instead of having to run the tap to get cold water every time you want a drink, keep a pitcher in the fridge. This will also help you avoid buying individual bottles of water that generate an unnecessary amount of waste.

Run the water less when preparing meals. Next time you cook a meal, put a big bowl underneath the faucet and see how much water is collected every time you wash your hands, rinse your food, etc. You may be surprised how much water is being wasted. Reduce this by instead keeping a bowl of water in the sink to wash your hands in. Keep another one to wash fruits and vegetables in. This way you are only using that one bowl of water instead of letting the tap run.

Look for paper plates that can be composted. The paper plates you are used to seeing in the supermarket are made from virgin tree pulp. They are then coated in a petroleum-based wax, which means that when you are done with them they cannot be recycled. But now there is a new type of paper plate made from “bagasse”. It is a left over from sugar processing and when used to make paper products is compostable. So now you can still be good to the environment and not have to do dishes after the family picnic!