Monday, June 30, 2008

Monday's Green Books series: Seven Wonders for a Cool Planet (and a giveaway of one copy)

After a short break of one week, we're back with Monday's green books series, and today I have the pleasure to review a very interesting book that will show you how you can help solving global warming with few things you probably already have or use at home.

If it sounds kind of McGyver to you (remember this guy who solved all the problems with stuff like masking tape and an empty toothpaste?), you're actually not that wrong.. 'Seven Wonders for a Cool Planet: Everyday Things to Help Solve Global Warming' shows us how ordinary things like a local tomato or a clothesline can have a significant impact on the fight against global warming, once they become commonly used.

Eric Sorensen and the staff of Sightline Institute who wrote the book chose carefully seven items (or wonders as they call them): bicycle, condom, ceiling fan, clothesline, real tomato, library book and microchip. What's the idea behind it? they explain:

"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."

The idea behind these items/wonders is not only to discuss their own advantages, but also the concepts behind them and how we can implement them in other forms in our daily life. Take for example the library book (did you think I'll choose another wonder as an example? :-)

The library book is a symbol of efficiency in many ways - one copy is being used by hundreds and sometime thousands of people - according to the book, the average North American library lends out 100,000 books a year, but buys fewer than 5,000 books. Because less books are needed to be printed, the library is saving a huge amounts of CO2 emissions, or for those who are in favor of figures - 250 tones of greenhouse gas emissions every year.

The concept that is meant to be emphasized here is of reusing - making the most out everything we already have. It doesn't mean you only have to share it in a system similar to libraries, although I see it as the highest possibility in the hierarchy of options. You can also sell old furniture on Craigslist, rent a movie on Netflix, or buy a vintage jeans at a local vintage clothing store.

As the book mentions 'reuse' is a greener strategy than 'recycle' even though it doesn't get the same spotlight. It gives an example that "to produce a book of 100% recycled paper , a paper mill uses about 60% of the energy and generates half the solid wasted and one third the greenhouse gases, and95% of the effluent of a mill producing the average U.S. book. To produce "100% reused" library books, paper mills uses zero energy and generate zero pollution per new reader since reuse bypassed the porduction stage altogether."

I really enjoyed the fresh and unique look the book takes at the fight against global warming and how the answer does not necessarily have to rely on billions of dollars R&D budgets to find alternative fuel, but can also start with the simple stuff we have at home. I have six out of seven at home (sorry, but no clothesline is available where I live, though I used to have it in many of the apartments I lived in and I really liked it), so I feel quite equipped for the fight, although I need to fix my bicycle and the sooner the better!

But this is not a final list and I'm sure other items you have at home can fit this list as well. And this is actually today's challenge with a reward on its side - we'll be giving away the review copy we received from Sierra Club to the best idea for an eighth wonder that matches the description of "an ordinary thing, that, with widespread use, can have an extraordinary impact on the fight against global warming".

All you need to do is to add a comment with your idea. We'll choose from all the comments we'll receive to this post by Saturday (7/5/08), 12 p.m. EST the one we like the most and send the happy winner the review copy of the book.
Author: Eric Sorensen and the staff of Sightline Institute
Publisher: Sierra Club/Counterpoint

Published on: April 2008
Pages: 144
Fact Sheet:
Seven Wonders for a Cool Planet
How it's printed: in the U.S.A on New Leaf Ecobook 50 acid-free paper, which contains minimum of 50% post-consumer waste, processed chlorine free. Of the balance, 25% is FSC certified to contain no old-growth trees to be pulped totally chlorine free.

Raz @ Eco-Libris


Julie Anne said...

A bicycle is an ordinary item that would cool our planet if it were used more. Not only would it take our cars off the road, it would increase our health and provide relief for our medical systems as well as reduce our need for pharmaceuticals.

I AM Julie Anne

Anonymous said...

Our home computers, energy guzzlers that they are, are actually ordinary tools that we can use to help the environment.

- We can use them to telecommute, rather than using our cars to drive to work.
- We can reduce the sheer number of electronics we need in our homes (a good computer can replace video game consoles, stereos, televisions and more).
- We can research new ways to live greener lives — all of the information necessary to create biofuel, plant a garden and move to a localvore lifestyle are all available through the computer.

Anonymous said...

Educate the next generation! Take the kids to the Aquarium, Zoo, Botanical Gardens, Butterfly Pavilion, Beach Cleanup Day, and Nature Reserve, whatever is around your neighborhood.

Drill into them the love for nature and the need to treat it with respect. Volunteer at the schools to put together presentations on how to accomplish this. Do it in your kid's school, your cousin's kids' school, etc, etc, etc.

There is little sense in turning off every light bulb if junior cannot get it through his thick skull he needs to do it too -- even when he is away at college.

Pastor Barry said...

I love the ideas, but with one tweak: I love tomatoes (have several growing myself), but nothing beats the fruition of a zucchini! I swear that we could curb much of the world's hunger if we all had a zucchini mound in our gardens!

Sandhi said...

I think all of these elements those are narrated in this book such as bicycle, tomato, library book etc are playing important role for reducing global warming. Now a day’s energy production becomes a great factor without warming the globe. By continuous burning of fossil fuels produces a massive amount of green house gases. These gases are one of the main causes that make our earth hotter day by day. So clean energy production should be give priority. From my point of view Wind Turbine will become get a place in this list. Now I discuss a little bit why I think this,

Wind energy is plentiful, renewable, widely distributed, clean, and decrease greenhouse gas emissions when it displaces fossil-fuel-derived electricity. Wind power is the conversion of wind energy into a useful form, such as electricity, using wind turbines. At the end of 2007, worldwide capacity of wind-powered generators was 94.1 gigawatts. Globally, wind power generation increased more than fivefold between 2000 and 2007.

A study by the Irish national grid stated that "Producing electricity from wind reduces the consumption of fossil fuels and therefore leads to emissions savings", and found reductions in CO2 emissions ranging from 0.33 to 0.59 tonnes of CO2 per MWh.

At present moment the numbers of wind turbines is a huge digit. The 28,000 wind turbines operating worldwide generate more than 7.8 Terawatt-hours (7,800,000,000 kWh) of electricity annually.

Wind Turbine also have some significant advantages that find out by the Researchers and Scientists that,
Firstly, Remote areas that are not connected to the electricity power grid can use wind turbines to produce their own supply. Secondly, it has a role to play in both the developed and third world. Last of all, These Wind turbines are available in a range of sizes which means a vast range of people and businesses can use them. Single households to small towns and villages can make good use of range of wind turbines available today.

After reading and analysis of above all points I think you will agree with me that wind turbine become the eighth no. wonder which have a significant potentiality and ability to reduce global warming.

Anonymous said...

My "item" is an intangible -- based on the old game of "telephone," with the added twist of taking advantage of the increasing phenomenon of globalization.

For instance, someone has the germ of a really good idea to promote sustainability, but perhaps lacks the technological knowhow or financial wherewithal to bring it to fruition.

Let's then say that that person would able to propose his or her idea without fear of having that idea "stolen" (purloined by some unscrupulous person or entity) and co-opted merely to maximize profit.

The idea would be nurtured and adapted (adopted?) by fellow stakeholders who would shape into feasibilty and ultimately bring it into fruition.

There could be monetary reward for the idea orignator, perhaps also for the idea cultivators -- why not? Especially if the idea proves to be a moneymaker, it seems fair that those involved, and especially the originator, should gain some direct benefit.

Meanwhile, the wheels of innovation are continually turning, and perhaps, many of the many vexing challenges of the day would become less overhwelming, or even manageable.

Yes, I know, it's a Utopian notion, and we all know how viable such notions are. But a person can dream, right?

Heather said...


Now that I see I have your attention. I believe that all women who physically CAN breastfeed should breastfeed. It is incredibly healthy for Mom, baby and Mother Earth!

melonkelli said...

Shop locally. Buy what you can that is produced nearby so that we can cut down on transportation costs.

windycindy said...

Hello! I have a problem with a lot of packaging that is still utilized today. The packaging with the bubble wrap built in may be reused, but after it is worn out, it can't be recycled. Also, where we live, our prescription bottles can't be recycled. Thus, every time I refill a prescription, I am given a new bottle and left with the old one! Unless, I have tissue paper that I have saved to reuse, I don't use it anymore. Gift bags can be used time after time as opposed to gift wrap!
Sometimes, I wonder why we are still given a choice of paper or plastic in the grocery stores?! I think reusable totes should almost be required. There is an awful lot of cardboard used in packaging products. We do recycle ours, but I wonder sometimes how much of our recycle bin items are really recycled. I think packaging need to go through many changes. Thanks, Cindi

JenO said...

There is so much waste in so many ways! I think cloth can make a big difference, if ppl would just use it! Cloth diapers, cloth napkins, cloth towels instead of paper towels, we even use the cloth wipes I made for the baby for tissues around the house.

Kimberly said...

WOW! Everyone had such great ideas. It's hard to top it.

I think education is the most ordinary thing that can help do extraordinary things. People are educated and learn every day in many ways, not just in school. But school is a great place to start. They should teach the kids about Earthy friendly alternatives and strive to make our school a more eco-friendly place.

To coin a phrase the children are our future and if we can educate them at a very young age then when they grow up and take over they will do what is best for this planet.

HunnyV "at" Optonline "dot" net

Stacy said...

CFLs are all over your house and can make a huge difference if we all did our part. And Home Depot will take them to recylce when you are done.

Brooke said...

We're pretty big on the library in our house. And public transportation, farmer's markets, etc., A big one that people don't think of regularly is to TURN OFF THE AIR CON!!! Use fans instead, particularly ceiling fans.

jceko77 said...

energy saving light bulbs
shoes (walk instead of drive)
cloth diapers