Lessons From The Lorax

Going green, Green kids — By on April 24, 2011 at 6:38 am

Even though my children are no longer babies, we still enjoy reading books together.  One of my favorite authors, the creator of timeless, entertaining books is Dr. Seuss.

Who knew that Dr. Seuss at the leading edge of the environmental movement when he wrote The Lorax in 1971?  In fact, within several years of its publication, clean water and clean air laws were passed, as we finally realized that these resources could be destroyed without protective measures.

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The Lorax speaks for the trees

I remember reading the book myself as a child and even watching the television special.  Born in the late 1960s, my parents were surprisingly far from environmentally-conscious, but even the youngest children who enjoy the story cannot miss the conservation message woven into the enchanting tale.

Among the various lessons from The Lorax, who speaks for the trees, is:

The Once-ler devised devious ways of cutting down Truffula trees for the “biggering and biggering” of his manufacturing operation. The smogulous smoke that spewed into the air from his Thneed factory made the Lorax “cough, whiff, sneeze, snuffle, snarggle, sniffle, and croak.” The beautiful Swomee swans were no longer able to sing, so the Lorax sends the birds away to find cleaner air. The Once-ler “biggered” to the point where he poisoned the Lorax’s eco-lovin’ life with polluted water, polluted air, and left him in a sunless panorama of Truffula stumps. Poor Lorax.

Its sad to think that more than 40 years have passed since Dr. Seuss penned this tale and things are not better, but worse!

If you don’t know the story of The Lorax, here’s a quick thumbnail:

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The Lorax teaches about the environment and conservation

In a far away land, a Dr. Seuss creature known as the Once-ler, learns about the Lorax.  The Once-ler tells about how he first arrived when it was a beautiful forest of Truffula Trees, colorful woolly trees that were spread throughout the area.  The Once-ler can see the beauty of the surrounding area, but he is only interested in the Truffula Trees. Taking a few samples of the Truffula tree, he decides to set up shop.

The Once-ler uses the foliage of the trees to knit a “Thneed,” which is a garment that everyone needs.  As the forest is depleted in the name of capitalism and greed, The Lorax emerges from a tree stump and proclaims that he “speaks for the trees, as the trees have no tongues.”

The story continues with the Once-ler’s small shop that grows into a factory, while new equipment is required to keep up with the demand for Thneeds.  As more Truffula trees are chopped down, the reader realizes that, not only are the trees valuable in their own right, but they provide habitat and food for the Bar-ba-Loots, who face illness and hunger as a result of the endless tree harvesting.

Eventually, the Once-ler’s Thneed-making business has massively expanded. Sadly, the Lorax complains to deaf ears to the Once-ler about the “smogulous smoke” that it is emanating from the factories.

The Lorax is a timeless story.  Its surprising that Dr. Seuess had such foresight about the environmental movement so many years ago.  The story about a corporate entity that sees money and potential in a natural resource, which conflicts with the eco-system and habitat required to sustain those that have relied on the resource for many years was ahead of its time, but right on time.

Did you ever read The Lorax?  Do you recall a similar book that moved you to tread a lightly and consider the Earth’s resources?  Please share in the comments below.

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