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Book Review: Seven Wonders
Sarah Kuck, 2 May 08

In Sightline’s new book Seven Wonders for a Cool Planet: Everyday Things to Help Solve Global Warming, Eric Sorensen and the staff of Sightline Institute created a pithy, action-oriented book dripping with insightful Worldchanging ideas.

Seven Wonders uses everyday items, from the bicycle to the ceiling fan, the clothesline to the library book, to show that we need to look no farther than our own backyards to find much of what we need to change the world.

About the book from the book:

SevenWonders for a Cool Planet is not another book of tips. Like its antecedents in the “seven wonders of the world” lineage, it's a guide to miraculous human-made things. The twist about these wonders is that they already surround you. This book is an ode to seven everyday devices you probably already own or use, which are so powerful, elegant, and in most cases simple, that they are and always have been friends of the climate (and
also of your pocketbook, neighbors, health, and children). It's a reminder of everything that's right about our lives, not everything that's wrong. More subversively, SevenWonders is a way to think—illustrated seven ways—about solving the climate crisis once and for all: by designing sustainability into the very heart of our lives, communities, institutions, and economy. It's a way to reimagine the problem, starting with a few mostly low-tech tools and notions. Each of the seven wonders carries the weight of a larger idea, a more encompassing way to see the global-warming challenge and its solutions.

This 120-pager offers tasty ideas and bits of information that are sure to grab the attention of just about anyone. People who are already into the climate change movement can find fascination within the lines that the Sightline team draws between how common items and the climate crisis, like with the tomato:

As recently as the 1950s, the fruits and vegetables eaten in most major cities were grown on nearby farms, a likely reason New Jersey, lying between the cities of New
York and Philadelphia, came to be called "the Garden State." But refrigerated transport, interstates, and advances in storage quickly took the show on the road. By 1996, more than 90 percent of fresh produce was moving by truck, according to research by David and Marcia Pimentel, authors of Food, Energy, and Society. And the distance food travels is only growing longer as global trade and cheap oil make it easier to send produce around the planet…So even in the peak of summer, when tomatoes are ripening in gardens around the country, American supermarkets will sell mass-produced hothouse tomatoes from Canada and Roma tomatoes from Mexico. The result: tens of thousands of tons of carbon dioxide emissions, often when nearby food choices can be grown, processed, and shipped with much less energy.

People who need an entry point into the climate change movement will hopefully find Sightline’s examples of human ingenuity and simple, affordable solutions entertaining in and of themselves, like their discussion of the how the condom can save the world:

The condom is a remarkable little device. It weighs in at a fraction of an ounce, and can be as thin as 1⁄500 of an inch, yet it simultaneously fights three of the most serious problems facing humans at the beginning of the twenty-first century: sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), unwanted pregnancies, and population growth. Those last two can have an outsize effect on climate change. With just a modest decrease in unintended
pregnancies, we can go a long way toward slowing the world's population growth and the carbon dioxide emissions that inevitably follow in each person's wake—especially the wake of North Americans. All thanks to the wonders of a flimsy elastic tube. Though it often provokes humor or embarrassment, the party hat is widely appreciated for all the good it does.

Sightline’s ability to show how simple things, like fruit and string, can help us change the world is incredibly creative and refreshing. Seven Wonders shows us we have the ability to imagine the world we want to live in just by looking differently at the stuff already laying around the house.

You can buy copies of Seven Wonders for a Cool Planet directly from Sierra Club Books , your local bookstore, or online from bookstores such as Amazon Seven Wonders for a Cool Planet: Everyday Things to Help Solve Global Warming.

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This looks just like the little book great for teenagers or college kids. There is so much information out there that sometimes it is overwhelming, but if it is covered properly it can really help the individual grasp just how easy it is to do their part to help the environment. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: Environmental book reader on 3 May 08



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