The tree that inspired the Lorax is no more. From the Sacramento Bee, The seaside cypress believed to have inspired the fanciful Truffula trees of Dr. Seuss’ classic 1971 children’s tale “The Lorax” has toppled in Southern California.
Or maybe not. Theodore Geisel, the man we know as Dr. Seuss, may or may not have been inspired by that tree. According to his wife Audrey he was inspired by trees on a trip to Africa. And for many, that is where the discussion will reside. About THIS tree.
And the point will get missed. Again. The Lorax, published in 1971, chronicled the story of the Lorax warning a character called the Once-ler against the destruction of a valley of trees called Truffula trees. It was a warning against environmental destruction at the hands of corporate greed and cheap consumerism.
The book fit into a long line of warnings about man’s relationship with our environment, including Marjorie Stoneman Douglas The Everglades: River of Grass (1947) and Rachel Carson’s influential book Silent Spring (1962).
Environmentalism in the mid-20th century was a hard sell, as post war America was booming. Yet by 1970 people were beginning to understand we had a mess on our hands – one created by the profit driven, polluting, wasteful industries themselves – and the consumers that demanded cheap, one off, throw away goods. In other words, everyone was at fault.
Earth Day was created in 1970 and from that era since we have progressed, to some degree. Industries have been asked or forced to clean up their methods, although never be fooled – profit is still the goal. Well, stock price I should say.
And consumers are a walking billboard of informed choices. Knowledge is power for sure. Man we THINK we are trying to help the environment. We have a recycling bucket!
Yet, really? Do we really live a cleaner life? As literally everything we buy comes in its own individual packaging, as we flood our spaces with trillions of ounces of plastic waste that finds its way into both our water supplies and oceans, but also gets ingested into our bodies?
Our interaction with the environment still exerts a terrible cost, both on it, and us.
So the Lorax tree toppled. People will talk about the tree. But the message of the book however, should be the focus. It is never more important than it is today.