By: Jamie Vanaman, KAB intern
Today marks the 112th birthday of one of the most beloved authors of all time, Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. Through his books, Dr. Seuss brought to light many social, economic, and political issues. Most notably, one of his favorite books he wrote, The Lorax focused on environmental issues and anti-consumerism.
The story of the Lorax tells how a lush pristine valley inhabited by many different creatures becomes polluted and dark due to all the “Truffula Trees” in the valley that get chopped down to make way for a factory. The Lorax is a creature who appears when a man called “the Once-ler”, tries to cut down the first tree. The Lorax warns of the dangers that come with cutting down trees. “I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees.” The Once-ler does not heed his warning and before long the animals have moved on leaving behind a desolate world.
The Lorax is one of Seuss’s more grim stories, but it reflects the era in which it was written. In 1971, when the book was released, the United States was embroiled in environmental issues left over from the 1960s. The deforestation of the Pacific Northwest was chief among them; logging companies were cutting down trees at alarming rates. Needless to say, the logging industry was not happy about The Lorax. Dr. Seuss personifies the industry as the Once-ler, and environmental groups as the Lorax, as they are often ignored until it is too late.
Although the lesson to be taught is not to stop cutting down trees as a whole, but rather to raise awareness to what could happen in an extreme situation should industry go unchecked. Deforestation is a growing and very serious problem in today’s world. Forests only cover about 30% of the Earth’s surface, and it is estimated that in 100 years there will be no rainforests left on Earth.
While we celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss today, let’s also look at the messages he sent us through his timeless books and act on his warnings. Just like the Lorax, your voice can be heard and you can help stop deforestation! One thing you can do right at your own home is plant a tree this Arbor Day, April 29th!