11 November 2010

Truax

So I'm sure that you, like me, have watched Dr. Seuss' classic tale of environmental destruction and corporate greed, The Lorax, and demanded to know the other half of the story.

"Why, this is one-sided!" you might have said. "What about the poor Once-ler... who argues for him?"

Truax (pdf) is a logging-friendly rebuttal. It was written by Terri Birkett, the wife of a hardwood-flooring salesman in Virginia, and illustrated by Orrin Lundgren. It's pretty hard to believe that Truax was ever written. And yet it's real!


The plot is this: the Guardbark, who is some sort of half-tree thing, shows up and yells at poor noble Truax, a friendly and happy logger.  Truax proceeds to calmly make a fool of the dryad fellow, who is wildly misinformed about how cutting down trees is probably bad.  There's no story or anything: a storyline is unnecessary when you have the truth of logging's goodness on your side.

Truax kindly tells the foolish Guardbark that they plant more trees than they cut down, and that it's okay that all the new trees are much younger than the old-growth they replace, because young trees absorb more CO2. This is true in an evasive way: young trees do absorb more CO2 as they grow.  But it will take decades for them to absorb the CO2 released by the logging of their predecessor, much less any additional CO2.

Near the end, the Guardbark asks about the animals endangered by loss of habitat. Truax laughs and asks how much we should care about a few animals.  Should we all have to live in plastic and steel houses, which will soon run out and leave us on a barren lifeless planet?  What kind of monster are you, Guardbark?  Why do you want to destroy the Earth by saving these trees?

In the end, the Guardbark flies away, convinced he was wrong and that the Truax is taking care of nature in the best way.

It's a happy ending.

How far will we go? How much will we pay?
To keep a few minnows from dying away?

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