Tropical Rainforests Critical Essays

James D. Nations


(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

The subject of Nations’ book is the world’s tropical rainforests, but the lens through which he views his subject is reflected in the subtitle Endangered Environment. After convincing his readers of the importance and wonders of rainforests, Nations wants to show them that this ecosystem is in grave trouble.

This agenda is reflected at the beginning of the book with a fictitious story about future astronauts returning home from a long space expedition and seeing the tropical rainforests that were damaged in the twentieth century. This environmentalist slant, which frequently punctuates the first four chapters, overtakes the book in chapter 5 as Nations explains why humans destroy rainforests (for example, road construction, logging, colonization, cattle ranching, and development projects) and the problems that are caused by deforestation (such as the extinction of plants and animals, soil erosion, decreased rainfall, and changes in the global climate).

Nations’ presentation of the devastation of the rainforests is sobering and worrisome, but it does not always place the blame on those who are responsible for this destruction. Several times in the book, Nations mentions that much of this damage has been done unknowingly: both by those unaware of the importance of this ecosystem and by those who have no other alternative but to clear the rainforest and farm the poor soil in an attempt to survive.

The book is also...

(The entire section is 449 words.)