“Survival or Extinction”

Want to know why the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu is facing destruction? Or why the beautiful Danube became a fish graveyard when the year 2000 had barely begun? Or how the Biosphere 2 life-systems experiment failed? The answers lie in a two-volume book, Survival or Extinction, edited by Zhao Zhonglong.

Unlike many popular environmental science books, this one links its content together with true stories. The narratives provide descriptions and shocking photographs of environmental disasters and accidents, informing the reader of the basics of environmental science and the crisis we currently face. Each story provides a new layer of understanding.

The book is beautifully printed, with carefully chosen photos on every page. Environmental terms are singled out for simple explanation and background information is provided. For example, the chapter on water pollution explains the concept of pH values – a method of expressing differences in acidity or alkalinity — and the effect of those values on various species. This makes the book suitable for readers of all ages and backgrounds.

Particularly worth mentioning is the price for the two thick volumes: 30 yuan (about US$4.40). This breaks the trend of charging high prices for illustrated books in China. The cover tells us that the book received “financial support for innovation in popular science publishing”. This no doubt explains the low cost.

Survival or Extinction (1, 2)

Zhao Zhonglong (main editor)

Beijing Printing Press, 2008

— By Li Siqi