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
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