24 January 2014

Friday Five: What The Lorax Taught Me

"Thneed's a Fine-Something-That-All-People-Need" 
The Lorax taught me that we can all fall victim to needing the new big thing. The thing that professes to be a magical thing that can help you improve your life. And that's ok - if it is something that's truly useful to you.

But we need to consider where it comes from and how it was made. An excellent example being the Forest Stewardship Council who ensure that wood with their logo is from woodland managed appropriately. More on FSC here.

It's also important to consider what you're going to do with your 'thneed' when it breaks or you want the new model: Recycle - Reuse - Reduce.

"I biggered my money, which everyone needs."
It's so easy to become so consumed with biggering everything around you; your money, hour house, your car. But this immediately makes me think of another quote often attributed to the Cree Indians:
"When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realize that one cannot eat money."
I think that the Lorax would agree.

Because of The Once-lers actions, the Lorax eventually has to move all of the forest creatures out. One of the things he says to The Once-ler is that:
"No one can sing who has smog in his throat."

London had the same problem with smog, including The Great Smog of 1952, which is thought to have killed at least 4000 people. Laws were put in place to ensure that this never happened again. But in Beijing, smog is now a very real and current problem. Although sadly, it seems that instead of sorting the cause of the problem out - they're using a workaround. If you haven't seen it yet - check out this big screen sunrise.

The Once-ler yelled at the Lorax:
"Well, I have my rights, sir, and I'm telling you.
I intend to go on doing just what I do!". 
Human rights are frequently on the news and seem to allow us to do whatever we like - even to the astonishment to other humans. It's right, of course, that we have our rights, but so do the other inhabitants of the world. In the story the Lorax speaks for the trees.

In our world we have many organisations like the WWF, Greenpeace, etc that speak for nature. In the future we may find ourselves finally transcending up through the evolution of ethics to speaking for the animals, plants and even the rocks of the world - and finally the universe.

But from where we're at right now, this just doesn't feel like enough - I have that feeling a lot. It brings me on to the final thing that the Lorax taught me...

"The word of the Lorax seems perfectly clear.
UNLESS someone like you care a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better. It's not."

I care. Many of us do. Life can be so difficult at times that thinking of the trees in the Amazon or some plant somewhere becoming exctict before anyone knew it even existed can seem so pointless. But it's not pointless. We can have an impact.

The Internet brings us closer to the things in life that we consider wonderful, whether that be the Kardashians or trees or both. There are many sites that carry environmental petitions, including the UK Government e-petition website. So even if signing a petition is all you have time and energy to do - please do it. Get your voice heard. Let people know that you do care. The Lorax taught me that it's important to care. Even if like in the story, you only plant one tree - know that planting one tree is worthwhile. As a message to the people around you, including your kids, and for the wider benefit to us and the environment.

The things I've mentioned here are important and emotive. If there's anything you'd like to say, please add a comment. I enjoy hearing from you all. But before you comment:

This is my favourite song from the animated film. I hope you enjoy it!


Dr. Seuss, 1971. The Lorax (Classic Seuss). Edition. Random House Books for Young Readers.
The Lorax, 2012. [DVD] Chris Renaud, Kyle Balda, USA: Universal Pictures.


  1. Hi Tim!

    This was one of my favourite books growing up. I give it credit with making me the plant-loving tree hugger that I am today. I even read it to my students during tutorial, since...who doesn't love story time in their early 20s?! :)

    1: isn't it amazing the number of people that fall into the trap of "YOU NEED THIS PRODUCT!!!"? I find it even more amazing the number of people that fall into the "USE THIS DIET TO LOOK SKINNY, BECAUSE SKINNY IS AWESOME!!" category. One of my friends just went on a juice cleanse because someone on TV told her she had toxins in her body. She's now in the hospital because of extremely low iron in her blood, and can't get enough oxygen to her brain. I tried convincing her it was a ridiculously stupid thing to do, but someone on TV told her it would make her skinny, so she did it. Oh, minor detail it was $250. FOR A WEEK. I shake my head.

    4: I HATE IT when "human rights" get brought into a discussion about environmental preservation. In the city I live in, the current council is all about making everything accessible. Granted, the government just issued legislation saying all municipalities had to, but minor details. Since when do municipalities listen to the government?! (ha) So they're taking this to the extreme and saying that all forests, including natural areas and environmentally significant areas, should be wheelchair accessible for everyone to enjoy them. So they're paving pathways through forests. Don't pay attention to the science that says that's a bad idea. Make it accessible. My view: nature was there long before we were. We should be preserving it for the sake of preservation, NOT for the sake of allowing everyone to walk (or wheel) through it whenever they please. Pave paths in City parks? Sure. Environmentally-significant areas with ground cover plants that are critically endangered? Absolutely not.

  2. I feel ashamed to admit that I'd not heard of The Lorax until I saw the book in the film Avatar. Story time is ace - your students are lucky.
    I really hope that your friend gets better soon. It sounds like a painful way to learn a lesson. It's so easy to follow an easy path rather than take time to learn about something - especially something as complicated as the human body. It's frustrating that such 'diets' are allowed to market in this day and age.
    Managing the environment is such as difficult thing to do. While it is great that disabled people will be able to enjoy the woodland - concrete paths can split and cut off ecosystems for some species. Sadly those species have no Lorax to speak for them as they're not cute and cuddly like Pandas are, so it's difficult to help them. It seems like there are no truly wild places any more.

    Thanks for commenting - I'm really glad you did.

  3. "Get your voice heard. Let people know that you do care." I sooo agree! And it's good to be reminded, encouraged every now and then ... thanks ;-)

    1. Hey Hollis. No problem! Really glad you like the post. :)


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