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Seven Wonders: Everyday Things for a Healthier Planet Paperback – October 3, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-1578050383 ISBN-10: 1578050383 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 98 pages
  • Publisher: Sierra Club Books; First Edition edition (October 3, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578050383
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578050383
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,481,229 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In Seven Wonders, John C. Ryan recommends a few simple things that could have a substantial positive impact on the planet's natural resources. The benefits of some of his "wonders" are obvious: condoms are a valuable tool in both birth control and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, while using a clothesline instead of a dryer saves energy and money. But did you know that Pad Thai dishes, which rely heavily on rice and vegetables, are not only healthy but environmentally sound? (Leaving aside the question of animal cruelty, livestock production in the United States accounts for almost half the energy used in American agriculture and generates 130 times more manure than the entire human population of the world.) And if more people used their public libraries instead of buying books, what might that do for the global level of paper consumption (not to mention the other community benefits a library has to offer)? Ryan's other three wonders are the bicycle, the ceiling fan, and the ladybug; his short essays on each of these items mix a presentation of their benefits with a thoughtful consideration of the social changes that would have to take place in our culture of consumption to make these wonders more mainstream. Seven Wonders is an intelligent reflection on the possibilities of a simpler lifestyle that combines material comfort with environmental sustainability.

From School Library Journal

-Ryan discusses seven things he believes will help create a sustainable future: bicycles, public libraries, ladybugs, condoms, pad thai, clotheslines, and ceiling fans. In most cases, the chosen wonder represents a lifestyle choice rather than a solitary object. For instance, pad thai is emblematic of a vegetarian diet, which requires fewer natural resources than a diet high in animal protein. Ladybugs are only one element of successful organic farming. Libraries help save trees because many people can share copies of one book. The author's explanations of his choices are interesting and well documented, and include sources and statistical information. The essays are short, lively, and convincing. Ryan obviously has a lot of faith that people are willing to make choices and changes in order to help the planet. Best of all, the ideas are simple enough for anyone to carry out.
Susan Salpini, Purcellville Library, VA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
For an environmentalist of long (or even short) standing, one keeps nodding and nodding all the way through this unfortunately short work. Much of what was presented isn't new (to environmentalists) -- although I *did* find the number of sexual acts daily on planet Earth fascinating, as well as the material on Thai Pad -- but the great thing about the book is the way it's written. Material is presented clearly, forcefully, and occasionally with humor. When all's said and done, the seven suggestions here would make the world a far better place than ever it has been before. Give this book as a present to those unaware, those aware, and even your aunt. "Seven Wonders" is worth far more than the price of admission.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jan Gault on August 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
As a frequent visitor to Thailand and lover of Thai cuisine, I can attest to "Pad Thai" being one of the sustainable wonders of the world. Thai food is nutritious, low in fat, and you just plain "feel better" after eating it. In this chapter, author John Ryan provides readers with a wealth of research documenting the relationship between Asia diets and health; and American meat diets and disease. A couple important points he makes: "Agriculture is the leading source of water pollution and the biggest water user in North America" (p.47). Eating less meat, more fish, rice and veggies can keep you healthier and help preserve our environment. And to those who think all thai food is "hot and spicy" - wrong! Take Ryan's advice and try a thai restaurant near you (there are many in America). You'll be glad you did.

Even if you only read this one chapter of Ryan's book (complete with a Pad Thai simple recipe), you'll find it worthwhile. Choice's matter!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Alan Koslowski on August 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
In "Seven Wonders", Ryan uses seven common products (Bicycle, Condom, Ceiling Fan, Clothesline, Pad Thai, Public Library, and Ladybug) to illustrate how anyone can lead an environmentally responsible lifestyle. Each object is a physical component related to issues which effect all of global ecology. Each object is tied to the thesis of his argument: The current North American lifestyle is not sustainable, and greater simplicity and efficiency is need to acheive sustainability.

Ryan takes complex and diverse information and concepts and effectively condenses and unifies them with each object. Ryan's central concept is efficiency. He illuminates an interesting and unfortunate irony of the U.S. economy: The U.S. business model has created perhaps the most efficient and productive economy in human history; maximizing efficiency in production of goods and services maximizes profit. While this model is adhered to almost absolutely in business, it's largely ignored in everyday lives. Each of the seven objects serves it's purpose more efficiently than what is normally used: The bicycle is the most efficient form of transportation that exists, yet the car is by far the most frequent method of transit. He acknowledges the limitations of bicycles (can't cover long distances quickly, limited cargo capacity), but since about half of all car trips are less than three miles, a bicycle is more efficient in most situations; a ceiling fan is a more efficient temperature reducer than AC; Pad Thai illustrates the efficiency of plant-based, over animal-based diets; borrowing books, media material, etc. from a public library saves energy and resources over purchasing them.

Not everything in "Seven Wonders" is revelatory.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 31, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Yes, I can agree that the bicycle, condom, ceiling fan,clothesline,ladybug and even the public library are wonders that can make for a healthier planet, but not Pad Thai which is basically Thai noodles. Instead I would have listed water. Plain water. Simply because to many people in the world lack clean water and Americans who have plenty, waste it washing down driveways and watering lawns in desert communities rather than drinking water. Water is the one thing Americans need more of rather than coffee, tea, Pepsi, Coca Cola and other beverages. Water makes the body work better, look better, sleep better, stay slimmer better as well as avoid a plethora of health problems.

Yes, the Bike is a godsend when it comes to producing overall health in humans and the environment. Europeans and Asians still ride bikes more than Americans. Oil is big business here in the states and sadly it seems only well educated areas, either in cities or university towns push bikes as a preferred mode of transportation.

The chapter on The Condom should be required reading for high school and college students and all adults since again a condom can help prevent a plethora of problems from STD's, HIV, and unwanted and un needed births.

The Ceiling Fan is also a good choice since most countries outside the USA rely on ceiling fans and cross ventilation for cooling. Not to mention ceiling fans use less energy than AC and are great in winter as well for circulating heat which also means less heating is needed.

The Clothesline is an excellent choice as well, because drying clothes on a clothes line or clothes rack requires no overt energy aside from the sun or air. Clothes also last longer when air dried.
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