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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Living on Earth Almanac: The Lorax

Air Date: Week of

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This week, facts about The Lorax. The furry figment of Dr. Seuss’s imagination just turned 30.


CURWOOD: It's Living On Earth, I'm Steve Curwood. He was shortish, and oldish and brownish and mossy. And he spoke with a voice that was sharpish and bossy. He, of course, is the Lorax, and he just turned 30.

VOICE: I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues. And I'm asking you, sir, at the top of my lungs!

CURWOOD: The Lorax, created by Dr. Seuss, was one of the first deliberately "environmental" children's books. It's a story about greed, consumption, pollution, economics, extinction, deforestation and stewardship - but kids wouldn't know it. To them, it's a colorful story about Swomee-Swans, Brown Bar-ba-loots, and Humming-Fish, and the dangers of Gluppity-Glupp, Schloppity-Schlopp, and smogulous-smoke. It all starts when the Once-ler, a greedy entrepreneur, discovers that the tuft of the wonderful Truffula Tree is perfect material for making a Thneed - a thing which everyone, everyone, EVERYONE needs! So he moves into town, builds a factory, biggers his business, and, ultimately, cuts down every last tree. When the native creatures can no longer survive, the Lorax becomes their only spokesperson, urging the Once-ler to clean up his act.

VOICE: Now, thanks to your hacking my trees to the ground, there's not enough Truffula Fruit to go 'round. And my poor Bar-ba-loots are all getting the crummies because they have gas, and no food, in their tummies!

CURWOOD: Dr. Seuss wrote The Lorax because it seemed to him that most ecological books about wildlife and conservation were "angry things that people don't want to read." Theodore Seuss Geisel died in 1991 at the age of 87. He wrote more than 50 books, and won a Pulitzer Prize in 1984 for his stories for young and old alike.
And as for the Lorax, he left this one parting gift: The last of the Truffula tree seeds.

VOICE: Plant a new Truffula. Treat it with care. Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air. Grow a forest. Protect it from axes that hack. Then the Lorax and all of his friends may come back.

CURWOOD: And for this week, that's the Living on Earth almanac.



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