“Man, Idiom and Environment”

Yao Youwei’s Man, Idiom and Environment is a unique collection of essays on environmental protection. Written without traditional chapters, it uses a series of Chinese idioms relevant to the environment as the starting point for a discussion of environmental problems and the challenge they present to humanity. The book also serves as an introduction to environmental science and policy.

Yao’s essay inspired by an idiom about the goddess Nuwa mending the heavens talks of the state of the earth’s ozone layer, the factors that have damaged it and international society’s efforts to rectify the situation.

The book’s nature is tied up with the experience of the writer. Yau is a former high-school chemistry teacher and has worked in government on environmental protection. His book is scientific and interesting, providing in-depth information yet avoiding dry, incomprehensible language.

Yao’s aim for the book is: “in the face of China’s severe pollution issues, call on more people to be aware of the environmental and their own self-preservation”. This extremely persuasive book is backed up with ample evidence. The idioms are drawn upon naturally, not forced, and the book is the more moving for it.

Man, Idiom and Environment
will appeal to a wide readership, even including high-school students. Its unique starting point makes it suitable not just for Chinese people wishing to quickly learn about environmental protection, but also overseas readers with an interest in Chinese culture.

Man, Idiom and Environment
Yao Youwei
East China University Press, 2007

— By Li Siqi