Disclaimer: Although it was not technically assigned for our class tomorrow, I couldn’t stop myself from reading Truax. It does tie in with the critical essay we were assigned and obviously The Lorax itself, however, and so I thought that it would still be relevant to the discussion. If you’d like to read it yourself, here’s a link.
Disclaimer Part II: This may get a bit rant-y.
Firstly, I’d like to start with a quote from The Lorax. It has inspired me ever since I was a young sprout (intended).
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
Secondly, as someone who does care a whole awful lot, I felt as if it were appropriate to dissect Truax to its very core.
If you don’t want to read the story, it’s basically just a (one-way) discussion between a logger and a creature named Mr. Guardbark. Mr. Guardbark represents all the bleeding-heart, quick tempered, irrational environmentalists that unjustifiably attack the logging industry. Let’s take a look at all the logging industry does for the environment:
The logger tells Mr. Guardbark that for every tree he cuts, he plants five more. He goes on to reassure the guardian of the trees that the planet relies more on young trees to sequester carbon from the atmosphere.
He also makes the following claim in response to Mr. Guardbark asking about biodiversity “Then what would happen after a bit of time passes to the animals that live in the shrubs and the grasses? With no opening up of the dark forest floor, there’d be no new habitat for them anymore.”
Hold up. It’s time for science.
1. Trees are photoautotrophs, meaning that they rely on photosynthesis to synthesis the energy and nutrients that they need to undergo the necessary functions of maintaining life. The main reactants of photosynthesis are carbon dioxide, water, and light. Leaves, which contain chlorophyl, are specialized structures in which most photosynthetic reactions occur. The older a tree is, the more growth it has, and subsequently the higher the carbon intake will be. It is completely inaccurate to say that young trees sequester more carbon from the atmosphere than old trees.
2. Rainforests are the most biodiverse biomes on the planet, with over 50% of extant species living within them. The author of Truax is attempting to claim that cutting forests allows for more biodiversity as the creatures that live in shrubs and grasses need places to live too. This is by far one of the weakest arguments I have ever heard in my entire life. It is saying that by destroying the habitat of an already richly diverse environment, we make way for other species that are nonnative to that particular area. An area that has been logged is immensely less habitable for any species, let alone those that live in “shrubs and grasses”.
I could write a full length essay on this one particular parody of The Lorax, but for your sake I will digress.
The main reason I wanted to bring up this particular story is how it relates to the Trees Are What Everyone Needs article.
One quote from this article in particular stuck out to me:
“Nature forces us to realize that we are a part of it; however, it doesn’t tell us what we are to make of that realization.”
The Lorax and Truax represent the two forms of which this realization can take. On one hand, it can be self-aware and constructive. Rather than trying to justify our actions, we take responsibility for them in order to prevent the issue from escalating further than it already has. On the other hand, we can be faced with the reality of what we are doing to the environment and quickly try to justify our actions so that we may continue to do them for the sake of profit and our own personal benefit. Truax is quite ironic in the way that it only solidifies the message of The Lorax rather than disprove it in any way.
The Lorax itself sheds a painful truth that is beautifully articulated by the critical essay:
“Our understanding of ecology – like the understanding of the Once-ler and like the Lorax himself, who has sprung from the first wound which the Once-ler inflicted on the Truffle forest – is largely a direct result of our destructive interactions with the environment.”
We only realize that we are a part of nature when we have done something to harm it, and only then because it subsequently harms us. It is a harsh truth to swallow, but it is true nonetheless. This essay in particular fits in perfectly with our overshadowing theme of dark ecology. We are all eventually forced to realize that we are not connected to Nature, but to nature. Humanity and nature are two entangled entities, neither of which can escape the other but in which neither can fully belong.