Sunning with Dr. Seuss

Carol Singer Neuvelt

Last week, I sat down to read to my son and came across a story we hadn’t read in a while. It was the  Dr. Seuss book about the Lorax, who speaks “for the Trees for the Trees have no tongues.”

As a reminder for those less familiar with Dr. Seuss, or who are not in that stage of your life in which he is considered required reading,  The Lorax is the story of one man’s entrepreneurial quest that depletes the earth and leads to the demise of his business and the surrounding community. It’s perhaps one of the best books about environmental sustainability for children, and reminded me that that my own environmental values were formed very early on.

As I recited the words of the Lorax, I remembered listening to my dad read these same words to me — some million, gazillion years ago, when I was six, five or four; and he knew, oh he knew, how to make me laugh on the floor —  recalling the impression that this book had made on me as a child.

In asking around at NAEM, I discovered that for many of us, our concern for the environment also has been influenced by books, TV shows, or movies, and it was amusing to hear which ones:   The Journey of Natty Gann, Captain Planet, Lord of the Rings, Waterworld, My Side of the Mountain, FernGully, WALL-E, and of course, the latest box-office sensation, Avatar.

Many of us in the EHS & Sustainability professional community share an interest in nature, conservation, and an appreciation for the outdoors.   It’s one of the great common denominators that I’ve experienced at NAEM.

As you get ready to kick off your summer, I encourage you to share a chuckle and your fond memories with us.  Please tell us the most impressionable cartoon, book or movie that left you with an environmental message?

And don’t forget this weekend – as you are popping your beverage and sunning with shades, remember the good “Dr.” had something to say: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Have a safe, fun Memorial Day weekend!

About Carol Singer Neuvelt

Carol Singer Neuvelt is Executive Director of NAEM. Her long-term perspective and insights into corporate EHS and sustainability best practices also have been featured in a variety of publications, including The Chicago Tribune, the Bureau of National Affairs, Environmental Leader, the National Safety Council’s Safety+Health magazine and Sustainable Life Media. She is the former Deputy Director for the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Public Liaison, where she managed the agency’s interaction with external stakeholders. Follow her on Twitter at @carol_neuvelt.

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  1. I still have the original cover of Time Magazine, January 1967 illustrating smog in downtown LA. The cover story was titled “Ecology: Menace in the Skies.”,16641,19670127,00.html

  2. Brian Shimmel

    May 27, 2010

    Not the first, but one that I cut out and kept at my desk through middle school and high school.

    Calvin and Hobbes touched on this theme numerous times over the years.

  3. Lisa G.

    May 27, 2010

    I have long said that the Lorax is a book that should be taught as required materials in schools everywhere. Thank you for sharing and making others aware or reminding them of the wonderful message that is shared in this book. I have been a lover of Dr. Seuss since childhood. This book is just one, but possibly my favorite, reminder of why. Long live The Lorax!

  4. Julie W

    May 28, 2010

    Environmental Stewardship should be part of the K-12 programs as a requirement..we learn a lot from our children as well…..I buy The Lorax for all of my nieces and nephews..

  5. Margery M

    May 28, 2010

    In the 1970’s I watched at age 10 or so “Logan’s Run” and it had a huge impact on me. The movie is about a post-apocalyptic world where humans live deep underground and are killed off at age 30 to keep population under control. But, some are no so happy with being zapped at 30 and escape. They find a beautiful natural world outside, and then liberate everyone. The movie’s message to me was that this Earth has a carrying capacity and humans are the primary cause of most of the impacts. I also just thought it very cool that we got zapped at 30, seemed like a good plan at age 10!

  6. Jim Cline

    May 28, 2010

    I watched the Lorax with my kids about a year ago. I had not seen the TV version for sometime. It is a moving story and so far ahead of its’ time. The good Doctor gave us some great lessons from his pen.

  7. Jeff Hanratty

    May 28, 2010

    Remember how Popeye would drive his car down the street at constant pace and Brutus would race by only to get stopped at the next stoplight and Popeye would catch up? I know it’s a stretch, but i’m certain Brutus used waaaaaay more fuel than Popeye. I’m not saying I was thinking about that when I was 8.

  8. Pat P.

    May 28, 2010

    What a fun memory to recall! I just loved the Truffula Trees and Brown Bar-ba-loots until sadly they moved away. It was a favorite to read to my kids and great way to talk about how our actions impact the earth.

  9. Gillian

    June 2, 2010

    Loved this post!

    I remember the first film I saw that made me compassionate and passionate about nature. The Snow Goose (1971).

  10. Fraser

    June 8, 2010

    Fantastic post!

    I still enjoy the odd cartoon from time to time. One particular cartoon that stood out as environmentally aware was “The Smoggies”. The evil Smoggies were a band of poluting pirates bent on the destruction of the planet. Even as a small child the message was clear and not lost on a short attention span.

  11. Randy Johnson

    June 18, 2010

    Great post, and great comments. It’s been a couple years since I’ve read The Lorax, but you’ve inspired me to read it again tonight! It’s such a timely and timeless message, told in a humorous, touching and profound way. Thanks so much for reminding us.

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