Read Dr. Seuss’s Book, “The Lorax”, to Celebrate Dr. Seuss’s Birthday,n or Better Yet – Read it to a Child or Friend

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March 2nd is Dr. Seuss’s birthday, he would be 112 this year. While he is no longer with us, his legacy lives on in the pages of his books. A book that all parents might want to read to their children is Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax”. It’s message is most applicable to finally being recognized environmental crisis of global warming and climate change, which continues to worsen.

Children should know we humans have already saturated Earth’s atmosphere with the residuals from excessive burning of earth’s fuels, the effect of which, together with the cutting down of the carbon dioxide sequestering tropical rain forest, has lead to an unhealthy and unnatural buildup of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere, which means that more of the Sun’s radiant heat is being trapped near Earth’s surface, which has already caused destabilized the earth’s climate systems, to the suffering and harm to many living species, including millions and ultimately billions of the human population, in areas which have experienced major and significant changes in weather events, more severe storms and flooding in some areas, but not enough rain for others.

Long before saving the earth became a global concern, Dr. Seuss, speaking through his character the Lorax, warned against mindless progress and the danger it posed to the earth’s natural beauty.

A boy living in a polluted town visits a strange isolated man called the Once-ler “at the far end of town where the Grickle-grass grows… [on] the Street of the Lifted Lorax”, who never appears fully in illustrations; only his arms are shown. The boy pays the Once-ler fifteen cents, a nail, and the shell of a great-great-great grandfather snail to explain why the area is in such a run-down state. The Once-ler explains to the boy (shown in flashback) how he once arrived in a beautiful, pristine valley containing happy, playful fauna (Brown Bar-ba-loots, Swomee Swans, and Humming Fish) that spent their days romping around blissfully among “Truffula trees”. The Once-ler proceeded to cut down the Truffula trees to gather raw material to knit “Thneeds,” a ridiculously versatile invention of his, “which everyone needs”. Thneeds could be used as a shirt, a sock, a glove, a hat, a carpet, a pillow, a sheet, a curtain, a seat cover, and countless other things.

By cutting down the tree, he summoned the titular Lorax to appear from the stump of a Truffula tree. He “speaks for the trees, for the trees have no tongues” and warned the Once-ler of the consequences of cutting down the truffula trees, but the Once-ler ignored him, instead contacting all his relatives to help him with his business.

The Once-ler’s small shop soon grew into a factory and new equipment was made to keep up with the demand for more Thneeds, and signs of damage to the Truffula Forest became evident to the Lorax. The Lorax first complained to the Once-ler that the Truffula trees, being chopped down, were also the food source of the Bar-ba-Loots, who are now facing a terrible food shortage and a disease called “the Crummies because of gas and no food in their tummies.” To save them, the Lorax sent them off to find another food source. At first, the Once-ler only showed a little remorse, but still focused on expanding his business.

Soon, the Once-ler’s Thneed-making business expanded tenfold and now used delivery trucks to take out the shipments. The Lorax eventually came back complaining to the Once-ler that the factories were belching out so much “smogulous smoke” that it was giving the Swomee Swans sore throats, leaving them unable to sing. After the Lorax sent them off, he also complained to the Once-ler about his machinery making a goo by-product called “Gluppity Glup” and “Shloppity Shlop,” and how it was being dumped into the ponds where the Humming Fish live, leaving them unable to hum and forcing the Lorax to send them away too.

The Once-ler, disgruntled by this, still dismissed the Lorax’s pleadings and declared his intention to keep “biggering” his operations, but at that very moment, the “The very last Truffula tree of them all” falls. Without raw materials, his factory shut down; without the factory, his relatives left. Then the Lorax, silently, with one “very sad, sad backward glance”, lifted himself by the seat of his pants and flew away through the clouds.

The Once-ler lingered on in his crumbling residence, living in seclusion and remorse, while pondering over a message the Lorax left behind: a stone slab etched with the word “Unless”. In the present, he now realizes what the Lorax meant. He tells the boy, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” The Once-ler then gives the boy the last Truffula seed and tells him to plant it, saying that if the boy grows a whole forest of the trees and keeps them protected from logging, “the Lorax, and all of his friends may come back.”

About Mike Neuman

TwEnvironmentalist; Father; Senior Citizen; Husband, Former School Crossing Guard for City of Madison; Bike to Work Advocate; Animal/Children/People Lover (in general); Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, Madison, Wisconsin, Anti-long distance travel (via fossil fuel burning); Against militarism in any form; Strong believer in people everywhere having the right to speak their minds openly, without any fear of reprisal, regarding any concerns; for those in authority to listen attentively AND, as warranted, ACT AS NECESSARY AND IN A TIMELY MANNER TO REDUCE OR ELIMINATE those concerns. For 59 years of my and my identical twin broth. er, Pat (from March 16,1950 until my brother, Pat, took his own life in June 2009 after his being fired from his NWS job and was then “allowed” to retire early from the federal government. He was fired despite having a long time and successful career as a flood forecaster with the Kansas City National Weather Service. Pat took a new position in the Midwest Regional Office in Minneapolis and the office he worked at moved to a new location outside the central city where there was less highway traffic to contend fowith a few years afterwards. Unfortunately, Pat’s work for the NWS went sour after he began to see the evidence for concern about rising global temperatures shortly after relocating to Minneapolis, and how they appeared to effect of flooding on the Red River that flows out of Canada before entering the U.S. in North Dakota. Pat and I conversed on a regular basis with other scientists on the Yahoo Group named “Climate Concern “ and by personal email. The NWS denied his recommendation to give his public presentation o n his research at the “Minneapolis Mall of America” in February 2000, which deeply affected h,im. He strongly believed the information ought be shared with the public to which I concurred. That was the beginning of the vendetta against my brother, Patrick J. Neuman, for speaking strongly of the obligations the federal government was responsible for accurately informing the citizenry. A similar response to my raising the issue of too many greenhouse gases being emitted by drivers of vehicles on Wisconsin highway system, my immediate supervisors directed: “that neither global warming, climate change nor the long term impacts upon the natural resources of Wisconsin from expansion of the state highway system were to be any part of my job requirements, and that I must not communicate, nor in a memorandum to all the bureau, shall any person who works in the same bureau I do communicate with me, neither verbally on the phone, by email

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