Face of Climate Change: What do you think of the Lorax today?

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Face of Climate Change
Dr Seuss cover of The Lorax book

Click the book’s cover to visit its Amazon page.

The Face of Climate Change is a campaign organized by the Earth Day Network to personalize environmental threats and dangers. Yesterday was the 43rd annual Earth Day, and I selected one of their photos to feature on OurValues.org. Today, let’s consider another face: The Lorax.

Why the Lorax? When I picked up my son at elementary school yesterday afternoon, I asked him if the school did anything special about Earth Day. “We saw The Lorax,” he said. “But it was the old one. Not the movie version.” I figured he must have seen the animated TV special, which first aired in 1972 and now is available on DVD. The “movie version” he was referencing is a computer-animated film with high production values released last year. Both versions are based on Dr. Seuss’ children’s book by the same title, published in 1971—just one year after the first Earth Day.

Did you read the book? Or see one of the animated versions? The Lorax is a fable about the onslaught of industry and the plight of the environment. The Lorax embodies the environment; industry is the Once-ler. The Once-ler is a polluter who fells the trees to use as raw materials in his factory. The Lorax speaks for the trees. The Once-ler ignores his warnings and, having cut down the very last tree, must close his factory due to lack of materials. The Lorax departs, and the Once-ler is left to live alone.

But there is redemption at the end, sort of. The Once-ler gives the last remaining seed from the felled trees to a boy, hoping that he might replant the forest.

As you can imagine, The Lorax incited a great deal of controversy, seen by many as an anti-industry, pro-environment piece of propaganda aimed at kids. Controversy continued into the late 1980s when a regional dispute broke out in California, sparked by logging-industry officials who felt school children were being biased against them. Environmental scientists took the book so seriously that an original line in Seuss’s book about terrible conditions in Lake Erie was removed in the 1980s—two Lake Erie researchers convinced Seuss that Erie was on the road back to health.

Clearly, this is more than a tale for children!

If you saw or read The Lorax, what did you think?

Was this an appropriate film to show to elementary schoolchildren on Earth Day?

Are you doing anything this week to commemorate Earth Day?

Please leave a comment below:

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