Incorporating Eco-Friendly Practices Into Your Farming

Eco-FriendlyEco-friendly practices and looking after the environment are huge talking points at the minute, and such conversation topics expand into many industries. One of these areas of work is undoubtedly farming, and ‘eco-friendly farming’ is now taking centre-stage as a practise that is not so much encouraged, but assumed. There are a lot of ways to run an eco-friendly farm, but here are a few of the most high-profile facets for you to consider.

Organic Farming

Organic farming majors upon the natural. In organic farming, natural nutrients such as compost and manure are favoured when it comes to vegetable production, and natural methods of enhancing crops and controlling weeds – such as consulting seed specialists about the possibilities of utilising effective crop rotation, for example – are prioritised over the spreading of potentially harmful synthetic chemicals. Organic farming is very widespread, and many people view it as a leading movement when it comes to considering the environment. Organic farm shops are also increasingly prized by the general public, so there are actually plenty of other good reasons to go down this route too!

Organic Farming

Renewable Energy

Twelve percent of all greenhouse gases stem from the agricultural industry, and because of this, utilising renewable energy in farming business goes a long way towards assuaging some of these concerns. Farms all across the globe are using renewable energy in various capacities, and those that aren’t yet doing so would do well to think about reforming their practises. According to Farmer’s Weekly, farmers should place more emphasis on saving energy than generating it, and whilst some of the solutions might be simple – such as maintaining efficient equipment, using proper insulation and fitting low energy lights – other ideas like hydro-power are also becoming more and more popular.

Renewable Energy Farms

Eco-Friendly Means Animals Too!

Many people get hung-up on saving energy and ‘going organic’ but forget that ‘eco-friendly’ means being friendly to all of the eco-system; this surely should include the animals and livestock on a farm! Many farm owners continue to be less than concerned when it comes to making their livestock as comfortable as possible, and this sort of attitude is anything but eco-friendly. For example, at this time of year your animals need ready access to clean and sanitary water – both for drinking and bathing – so make sure you’ve purchased some suitable water tanks from a source like Pure Water Storage or your animals will suffer. Similarly, your livestock need shade, so adhering to the sort of appropriate farm building patterns laid down by Robinson would be well-advised. It’s no good saving energy if your animals remain deeply stressed and uncared for; your productivity will only lessen.

Farm Animals

There’s an awful lot that could be said about eco-friendly farming, and the above three points are just a few of the things that you might find to be worth exploring. When you’re trying to earn a living, going ‘eco-friendly’ might seem like a bit of a chore, but we all have a duty to do what we can for the environment, and who knows, the unsung benefits of eco-friendly business – such as an enhanced reputation – may surprise you!

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Environmentally Friendly Buildings

Earth

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmentalism

Eco-friendly building carries a huge amount of weight in today’s society. With concern over global warming, overcrowding and loss of natural spaces all being commonly debated issues, any advances in the field of environmentally friendly building are worthy of considerable attention. The most environmentally friendly building in the world has recently been opened in Manchester by the Queen herself; so clearly such undertakings are of great significance.

Environmentally friendly buildings can take numerous forms, and use a variety of solutions to try and solve the problems that have been plaguing house builders for decades. It may surprise you to find out how many modern buildings actually do possess hidden features that prioritise the environment, but there is always more that could be done. Here are a few of the areas that tend to be a focus for environmentally friendly builders.

Solar and Wind Power

Solar power and wind power have been the go-to buzzwords for sustainable buildings for many years, and both processes are continually being refined to increase their widespread use. Rooftop solar panels are clearly the most commonly used of these features in non-commercial building, although such panels are now being used away from their traditional rooftop location too. This article from the summer reports how solar panels have even been used in overseas stained glass windows, and wind power too is now beginning to utilise more innovative solutions. Whilst domestic wind turbines might not be as commonly used as their solar counterparts, the coming years could well begin to see them in far more frequent use.

Recycled and Sustainable Materials

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_farm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_farm

Recycled or sustainable materials are another vital part of environmentally friendly building, and more and more structures are now beginning to implement such materials. These resources might take the form of second hand or reclaimed slates on a roof, a building or lodge made entirely from wood to reduce CO2 emissions, or even the huge skyscrapers in the USA that make use of both original and recycled building materials alike. These materials can be used on either the inside or outside of a building; as any action to reduce the overall carbon footprint of a structure, no matter how small it might be, is now looked on favourably.

‘Green’ Buildings

All eco-friendly buildings can be termed as being ‘green’, but some structures now take this label even further by actually incorporating green space within the premises of a building itself. Providing a building with specific spaces to grow plants can not only reduce the overall temperature, but it can also improve oxygen levels too. Both of these benefits also remove the need for artificial cooling and ventilation units, so such a simple action as an interior garden can actually yield astonishing results. Many current projects are trying to increase green space amid the commotion of city life, so perhaps the time has also come for internal garden spaces to become more common.

Sustainable and environmentally friendly building can conform to more patterns than many people think, and just because a structure doesn’t possess a plethora of solar panels or a private wind farm doesn’t mean that it hasn’t had any environmental input. The next few years will be certain to advance the sector of environmentally minded buildings still further, so it will be interesting to see what the future holds.

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Eco-Friendly Ways to Keep Your Business Warm This Winter

Every business owner is keenly aware of the need to keep heating costs as low as possible year round and the need is no more pressing than when a cold winter really bites hard and can drastically cut the number of customers to a business. Businesses that need a large area to operate are especially aware of the cost of heating a large space such as a showroom, factory or warehouse and need to find the most efficient yet still effective way of heating a their premises. There are several options available to you that can ensure that your business is kept in perfect running order no matter how hot or cold.

The first step should always be to ensure that the premises are as well insulated as possible and minimise the possibility of heat escaping. Simple steps recommended by the Energy Savings Trust include cavity wall insulation or lining the walls of your premises with pre-cut insulation sheets to stop heat from easily escaping. Any gaps that allow a draft should be plugged and doors to the outside should remain closed whenever possible. Another great way to create a barrier between the interior of your business and the outside world is to use a double set of doors for the entrance, the staggered doors will create an insulated pocket of defence against the cold outside.

However good your insulation, there will come a time when you have to heat your premises and it is important to do this in the most efficient and effective way possible. A traditional gas radiator based central heating system is far less effective at heating a large and open space and would cost a fortune on such a large scale. Industrial heating specialists Heritage Heating and Cooling provide specific industrial heating and air-conditioning systems, which are a far more effective way of heating a large space and ensuring that both staff and customers are happy and not having to wrap up this winter. Utilising the minimum amount of energy to produce the most amount of heat is not only financially beneficial but is the very core of running an ecologically sound business. Generally these heating units are self contained to create minimal aesthetic distraction and take up a relatively small amount of space despite creating and circulating huge amounts of heat.

If the financial aspect of investing in either of these simple steps is off-putting it is worth bearing in mind that the benefits of running a more efficient system and ensuring that your insulation is up to scratch is proven to more than off-set the initial investment in far less time than you may think. The UK Government can also offer energy grants to some businesses in order to ensure that they are heating their business in the most efficient way possible.

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6 tips for an eco-friendly home

The issue of saving the planet has been one of major talking points in the previous decade.  Various city councils have introduced measures to curb the causes of the earth’s ozone layer damage have since been implemented and received with positive responses from the public. The government also invested into various forms of communication to educate the British population on environmental friendliness. In the York area, many people and organisations are cooperating to the pleas. According to experts, the very little by each household could affect the earth’s well being by a large amount.  Here are some suggestions on how your York household can contribute towards the eco-friendliness campaign.

Eco-friendly travelling: When carrying out your every day errands within a short distance from your house, ensure you observe the speed limit, or even better yet use a bike. Cycle Sense is a York based organisation selling bikes with baskets, suitable for running your errand to help reduce your household fuel use.

Watch your temperature: Almost half of the household energy consumption is heating and cooling. Programme your thermostat to turn on and off at a required times to avoid heating wastage for example when no one is present in the house. Also, check your boiler’s efficiency as their work rate tends to lower from time to time. York Plumbing and Heating Ltd is an organisation that specialises in boiler maintenance and repairs.

Appliance repairs: From time to time, household gadgets such as computers tend to break down. Sometimes it might seem more convenient to simply bin the product and invest in a new one. However, purchasing new ones will only increase your household carbon footprint. You can lighten your footprint by getting your gadgets fixed companies such as Lantech who provide computer repairs in York.

Lighting: Lighting is an issue especially in a house accommodating several people. Studies indicate by turning your lights of when not in that particular room could save the household up between 10% and 20% of the household bill. Also switching your normal light bulbs to compact fluorescent lamps offered by Lightbulbs Direct is an effective energy saving technique. The company caters for those in whole of the Yorkshire area.

Energy audit: One of the most important steps towards an eco friendly home is understanding your household energy use. This allows you to implement an energy saving programme, which helps you reduce your contribution towards the carbon footprint and more importantly, save you a large amount of money in bills. Invest into an energy audit through The Home Improvement Advisory Service, an organisation offering such services in the York area.

Line-dry your clothes: Due to the inconsistent British weather, many people rely on using laundry machines such as dryers in their homes. However, you can reduce your household energy use in summer by purchasing outdoor laundry equipment from Reederoffers.co.uk, an online organisation delivering to the Yorkshire area.

It is important everyone plays a part towards an eco friendly environment. Such helpfulness not only helps us survive in a healthy environment but also benefits people of generations to come.

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Living in Harmony with Nature

Image by h.koppdelaney http://www.flickr.com/photos/h-k-d/3445840576/

Image by h.koppdelaney http://www.flickr.com/photos/h-k-d/3445840576/

Whether it’s through concern over climate change and the future of the planet or through a desire to return to a more peaceful way of life and escape the rat race of the city, many people are looking for ways to live more harmoniously with the natural world.

The New Forest National Park is a popular destination for many such harmony-seekers. This 219 square mile area, across south-west Hampshire, south-east Wiltshire and towards east Dorset, is a remarkable and historic landscape, and includes one of the largest remaining tracts of unenclosed pasture, heath and forest in the south east of England. Small towns and villages are dotted around the area and on the edges of the forest, and beautiful homes are regularly available from local estate agents such as Spencers of the New Forest at www.spencersnewforest.com, so you can enjoy living in a village like Brockenhurst where ponies and cattle regularly roam the high street. When you make your move, the New Forest National Park Authority offers helpful advice for new residents at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/info/20124/new_residents.

It’s about more than moving to the countryside, however; it’s about a change to your lifestyle, reducing your impact on the world around you. Buying local goods reduces your environmental impact as your food doesn’t have to be transported as far, so it creates less pollution. In the New Forest area, you can easily identify local produce through the New Forest Marque, which is applied to products with at least 25% New Forest Produce and meeting stringent quality standards. Read more about the Marque at www.newforestproduce.co.uk.

You can also take up self-sufficient gardening to reduce your impact even further; if you have never grown your own food before, the Telegraph offer a beginner’s guide at www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/plants/vegetables/9651866/A-beginners-guide-to-starting-a-veg-garden.html. Again, source locally to reduce your impact by using local garden centres like Fairweathers at fairweathers.co.uk  to get your seeds, tools and equipment.

If you really want to commit to self-sufficiency in your garden, you can even invest in a composting toilet from www.freerangedesigns.co.uk. They’re well designed, easy to install and don’t produce any nasty smells – and within a year you can have your own nutritious compost which is ideal for growing fruit trees and bushes.

With so much of what you need available locally, or grown in your own garden, you should be able to reduce the impact of your own travel. Put away or sell your car, and invest in a stout pair of walking shoes or a good bicycle. Not only is it good for the planet, but it’s good for you as well.

Finally, when you enjoy a peaceful and refreshing walk in the countryside of the New Forest remember; take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.

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The Future of Air Power

The Future of Air Power

Climate change has forced us to look at our energy sources in a new way. Fossil fuels are unsustainable, and concerns over the safety of nuclear power are ever rising in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, which began with the earthquake and tsunami in 2011 and is still ongoing as leaks are found in tanks which were constructed to hold contaminated water.

In the search for renewable energy sources, many have turned to air as a solution – it is, after all, everywhere around us, and with the right application of technology air can become a very powerful tool.

It’s a concept that has roots in some very old tools – the bellows used by early blacksmiths was a kind of air compressor and pneumatic tool, and the first compound air compressor was patented in 1829.

Today it can be used for a vast range of applications. UK based Skyline Whitespace use compressed air to power their new Windscape portable exhibition displays – click here for details. This clever invention means that a full sized exhibition display can be set up in minutes, and as it is much lighter and more easily portable than a traditional stand, it’s more environmentally friendly to transport as well.

You may be able to literally drive on air within the next few years, too – car companies have been working on air technology for several years, and Peugeot Citroen announced their Hybrid Air at the beginning of the year. This is a hybrid car which will allow motorists to drive for up to 50 minutes in city conditions without using any petrol through the use of compressed air technology, and which should be available by 2016, as reported in the Huffington Post – click here for the article.

Of course, the most visible application of air power is in the elegant, sleek form of wind turbines, which can be seen up and down their country. Some think they’re beautiful, but they often face protests – one planned wind turbine in South Devon has recently drawn objections from defence officials, who say it would adversely affect military radar.

A Canadian electrical engineer may have found an alternate way of using air power, however. The Atmospheric Vortex Engine designed by Louis Michaud of AVEtec Energy Corp is a device which can use waste heat to create what amounts to a controlled tornado, driving turbines to create energy- click here to read a report from Discover Magazine on the invention.

Whether it’s small scale pneumatic tools and gadgets or large scale energy production, it’s clear that air power is a vital part of the world’s renewable energy future.

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Bring New Life To Your Farm Through Recycling

The impact of global warming and the importance of monitoring our carbon footprint have increased massively over the last decade for the public and agricultural communities alike. Ensuring that we are all doing our part to make the earth a healthier planet isn’t always as simple as it should be. However, there are still some simple actions that aim to actively take responsibility for our own contributions, from clever purchasing to protesting.

The Guardian’s Lucy Siegle writes a very compelling article about the old fashioned methods of food recycling which can be found at www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/jul/14/food-waste-fed-to-pigs. Pigs were the solution to food waste for many decades, but prior to foot and mouth disease pigswill was outlawed and declared dangerous for human consumption. This is not only very damaging to the environment as many rainforest trees are felled for their food, but also means the quality of meat produced at the slaughterhouse is much lower than previous years.

Fortunately the ban of pigswill does not mean that there are no options for food waste recycling on a farm, there are many composting options to consider. About.com’s informative DIY guide to creating your own agricultural compost unit from recycled wood (which you may already have lying around) is a great example of how you can use pre-existing or discarded materials to your benefit.  Alternatively the use of pallets would also provide another means of recycling that prevent good materials going to landfill. About.com’s guide can be viewed at smallfarm.about.com/od/landpreparation/a/How-To-Compost-On-The-Small-Farm.htm and unwanted old pallets can be sourced locally from reclamation yards or even free advertising websites such as www.ilovefreegle.org.

One way to ensure that you have food for your livestock that is completely natural is by creating silage. Silage is made by preserving grass naturally under acidic conditions which is essentially a form of pickling. In order to do this you need to ensure that you have a silage clamp installed on your farm, to find out more information about this type of building check out www.rebuildings.co.uk/silage-clamps-concrete-panels/. This naturally produced food is of a higher food value and is much more environmentally friendly as no physical packaging is required therefore there is substantially less waste.

Monitoring your carbon footprint can even extend to the heavy machinery use. By purchasing second hand agricultural machinery and preventing the breakdown and scrapping of perfectly functional equipment, you can enhance your green credentials at no cost of efficiency or effectiveness. There are many specialists who deal specifically with pre-owned farming apparatus, such as www.cornthwaiteag.co.uk/combines-and-foragers who offer a great range of second hand tractors and vehicles that will not only save you money in comparison to a new model, but encourage the life of machinery and ensure that the full usage of the equipment has been achieved before disposing of it.

We are part of a disposable culture, with the belief that once we are finished with an item, it no longer has any further use, but this simply isn’t the case. By simply reviewing the actions are taken on your farm every day hundreds of tons of waste can be reduced, resulting in lower carbon emissions, smaller landfills and a happier, healthier environment.

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5 Things You Can Do To Cook The Eco Friendly Way

If you are concerned about the environment, there are many steps you can take in your own kitchen to make your meals more environmentally friendly. Additionally, changing what you cook for dinner, and changing how you cook and serve your meals can go a long way toward reducing your carbon footprint.

1# Start with the environmentally friendly appliances. Consider recycling older, less energy-efficient appliances and replacing them with Energy Star models, which emit reduced amounts of greenhouse gases. According to a recent article on The Daily Green, a home fully equipped with Energy Star products will operate on about 30% less energy than a house equipped with standard products, saving £600 a year. Also, you don’t have to replace every appliance at once to see the environmental benefit. If half of all UK households replaced a standard TV with an Energy Star model, the emissions prevented would be equal to shutting down a power plant. (In 2010, 6 million Brits purchased Energy Star products.)

2# Shop with a reusable bag. Bring a recycled or reusable shopping bag with you to the grocery shop every time you shop, so that you don’t waste plastic or paper grocery bags. If you forget your bag, ask the shop assistant to use as few bags as possible, and skip bags for larger items like milk jugs — just carry them by hand or in your shopping trolley. According to many recycling specialist like Polytec Recycling, plastic bags are very harmful to the environment. For example, plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they photo-degrade – breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil and waterways and entering the food web when animals accidentally ingest them. Also, a plastic bag can take between 400 to 1,000 years to break down in the environment.

3# Check your fridge temperature. Alison Jones in her article on Green Living argues that it is very important to keep your refrigerator working at an optimal temperature range. You should check your refrigerator now and then to ensure that the settings are 35–38°F or 2-3°C. The freezer should be set at 0°F or -18°C. Purchase a thermometer and check your fridge’s temperature regularly.

4# Use pressure cooking. Use a pressure cooker to cook vegetables, grains and meat. You can save up to 70% of the energy that you would otherwise use for your boiling and steaming tasks. Pressure-cooking cooks tough foods quickly and tenderizes meat for easy digestion. That apart, pressure-cooking helps retain nutrients and you can get away with using less salt since the super-heated steam intensifies flavours. Here is an article on Wiki How explaining how cook delicious meals with pressure cooker.

5# Buy organic products. When possible, purchase foods that are “organically grown,” which means they’re grown without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. This will not only reduce your family’s exposure to these chemicals, it will also help keep the chemicals out of the environment!

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The Future of Green Steel Construction

A new zero-carbon energy training and visitor centre has been given the Innovation Award at this year’s Constructing Excellence in Wales Awards, held in Cardiff. The two companies who designed the building, Dawnus Construction Limited and Powell Dobson Architects, managed to harness the local environment to offset all generated carbon emissions. The innovative design utilises waste heat and power produced by the local Tata steelworks providing all the electricity needed for the buildings. By doing this, the new Tata centre has become the largest carbon negative development in Wales. Go to www.thisissouthwales.co.uk/Construction-companies-created-new-Tata-Steel/story-19494272-detail/story.html#axzz2YqBWAO7z for more information on the new green steel structure.

iStock_000014510511XSmall

What are the Issues?

In recent years, there has been a noticeable shift towards more sustainable construction with much greater emphasis on offsetting hazardous carbon emissions.  A combination of more stringent planning permission, regulations regarding waste production and a growing public awareness of environmental issues has caused construction companies to evolve the way they work. The steel construction industry is no exception to this, with major steelworks such as Tata Steel investing heavily in more sustainable infrastructure and incorporating green designs into most new construction developments. Have a look at www.steelconstruction.info for the latest news and goings on in the steel industry with information on the most recent, green designs. With a lot of attention on current environmental issues, the steel industry is another former polluter following the global trend towards more sustainable development programs.

Where are these new Green Buildings?

Green buildings are more common than you think, blending into the surrounding community and providing sustainable energy options whilst reducing carbon emissions.  From One Westminster Place on London’s Southbank to the first green M&S in Sheffield, green designs are springing up everywhere and it looks set to continue. If you want to keep up with the latest developments in green building designs visit www.greenbuildingmagazine.co.uk, which is one of the UK’s leading magazines dedicated entirely towards future green construction. The buildings themselves utilise natural energy sources, such as solar or wind power, to generate the necessary electricity required to heat and power it. Green buildings can also use waste streams from other areas and convert this pollution into useful energy, such as heat and electricity. To a degree, every home and business in the UK can achieve a level of sustainability by recycling generated heat and ensuring all structures are properly insulated. By making a series of simple, inexpensive modifications to a building, you can achieve incredible savings in both environmental and monetary terms.

The future is most definitely green, so expect to see more and more sustainable buildings on the horizon. The consensus now is centred on how to utilise and recycle what has already been produced rather than consuming more natural resources. By adapting the way companies and the public view energy consumption, a new more sustainable future looks increasingly promising.

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Aerosols For Dummies

AerosolsWhen we think of aerosols, we typically think of deodorants or human made aerosols damaging the environment and in some cases human health. However, aerosols are more complex than that, and are surrounding us everywhere – not just from the spray you used this morning.

Aerosols are tiny particles that are suspending into the atmosphere that have both positive and negative effects on the ozone layer that we are all so concerned about. Aerosols direct effect is scattering sunlight back into space, which has a positive effect on the ozone layer as it prevents radiation. The negative impact however is much greater. When aerosol particles are in the lower atmosphere they interfere with cloud particles changing how clouds reflect and therefore absorbing sunlight, which effectively causes radiation and aids the heating of the earth. Check out the Union of Concerned Scientists official website for more a more detailed explanation.

There are different causes for aerosols in our environment some of which include:

• Volcanic Aerosol – there are two effects from volcanic aerosol, one constructive, one destructive. When a volcano erupts, it releases various different gases into the stratosphere. Sulphur dioxide from a volcanic cloud is transformed into sulphuric acid that then disperses aerosols throughout the stratosphere. They spread quickly and largely absorb other chemicals at their surface such as chlorine, which reacts directly with the ozone’s nitrogen layer having mass destruction and being a major cause of the environmental problem. The positive effect however, allows the aerosols to disperse globally around the stratosphere and when pure they will reflect sunlight, cooling the earth and this can last up to two years.

• Desert Dust – This is when dust veils are brought into the atmosphere and travel causing a fall out of particles, and as the desert dust is full on minerals the aerosols in the atmosphere react and absorb them, creating and affecting the clouds. This means that when the clouds form in the atmosphere the aerosols effect will make the clouds absorb sunlight and therefore aiding to the heating of the earth. It is thought that desert dust is one of the major factors that are affecting the heating of the earth, and due to its natural occurrence, it is hard to determine how to stop it.

• Manmade Aerosol – human activities have a direct effect to the production of aerosols in the environment. Through the industrial revolution predominately is when most of the damage was created due to the industrial chimneys smoking and releasing harmful gases into the air. This still occurs nowadays but actions are being taken to reduce the amount of aerosols produced and released. They similarly act in that they affect the clouds changing their reflective properties making the clouds absorb more light and therefore causing the radiation. Other aerosols that are becoming an increasing problem are that of deodorants and products alike that have an effect on the environment, especially due to the actions needed to remove them.

Removing aerosols is predominately done in the earth itself through rain, which is also often why we get acid rain. To remove manmade aerosols and their packaging it is much more difficult and so it is up to companies such as Red Industries, who have mastered a system which provides a 100% recycling and recovery of such components. Such a business requires removing the aerosols safely without releasing them into the atmosphere as well as recycling both them and their casing.

Legislation on Aerosol Dispensers has saw an improvement in the disposal and the use of aerosols by humans and manmade aerosol products as the government show an increasing concern of the effect that they are having on the environment. Ensure you dispose of any aerosols correctly and understand that it not only the aerosol can you use, there are natural effects causing the problem too! Check out Earth System Research Laboratory that has exciting studies and statistics with tests and information on the effects aerosols are having. This is a great way to extend you knowledge so you can apply it to your everyday life.

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