Coming to theaters October 21st!
Standing in the street, I tell myself to hold my breath and it will get better. Although I had learned in psychology class the idea of sensory adaptation—that breathing in the fumes would eventually adapt my sense to the smell—I couldn’t help but hold my breath. I close my eyes, standing behind this idling truck, and I’m taken back to a moment in time.
Sitting in a tent, 8 years old, I take a deep breath and close my eyes. Ten Earth Ranger campers are packed into an enclosed tent, surrounding a twig-filled metal bucket. “Imagine a world where you must pay for oxygen,” says the counselor. “A world where oxygen is sold in tanks, like gasoline from the station.” Imagining this far off world, I smell something burning. I open my eyes, see twigs on fire, and smoke filling the enclosed tent. When campers begin to cough, the counselor passes a gas mask around and directs each camper to take a deep breath through the mask and pass it along. She explains what will happen if society continues destroying the environment. I panic. I can’t breathe. I’m going to suffocate. She unzips the tent door and we exit. I am relieved beyond imagination. Breathe in. Breathe out. You are alive. You can breathe.
From the summers of 2004-2009, I attended a local park district camp at Emily Oaks Nature Center. As a camp for kids who loved to be outdoors, activities ranged from canoeing to hiking to camping and building fires. I learned about the environment and nature from an innocent child’s perspective, and I was forever scarred with the memory of that activity.
Due to its frightening and dangerous nature, that activity was never again done at the camp; but, I think I was taught a truly important lesson. Standing in the streets of New York, I often times wish I have a mask to wear to breathe in untainted oxygen. “It’s nice to be home and breathe in fresh air,” my sister says every times she visits Chicago from New York. The world my camp counselor demonstrated is not that far off. It’s much closer to home than it may seem to most people.
After numerous attempts, I have finally done something that could possible influence people.
The underground illegal market (including animal items such as rhino horns), according to ‘‘Invisible’’ wildlife trades: Southeast Asia’s undocumented illegal trade in wild ornamental plants by J. Phelps and Edward L. Webb, now has become nearly “invisible”, meaning it has been hard to detect evidence of trades without heavy researching (Phelps, Webb., 296). Phelps and Webb mention that there had been under-reporting and non-reporting of illegal products, which contributed to the “invisibility”. After third-party monitoring and research efforts, apparently there are illegal trades “such as the South Korean market-based trade of whale meat (Baker et al., 2007), and bushmeat trade from Africa into Europe via air” (297). The most surprising conclusion to come from this research, is that the market is alive and running. And also the size of the wildlife trade market is enormous. The article THE ORGANIZATION OF THE ILLEGAL TIGER PARTS TRADE IN CHINA by Rebecca W.Y. Wong, notifies the alarming numbers: “[t]he global illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be worth US$ 20 billion per annum, ranking second behind the illegal narcotics trade (Wyler and Sheikh 2008; 2013).” Agreeably, 20 billion is not a small number.
And the trade items include tiger heads, which is used for decoration and accessories. In China tigers are symbols of strength and power and it is crucial in China’s tradition (1). They are often used for aesthetic decorations, and also are used as “traditional medicine” (Leung and Cheng 2003; Maciocia 2004)” (1). This wildlife trade is embedded in their lifestyles, and the citizens that partake in the trade do not have any problems persisting slaughter of threatened animals. Thus, by observing Leung, Cheng, and Wong’s research of China, it may be nearly improbable to put a halt to illegal wildlife trade. Now in China, “criminal networks” exist in order to be participants of the illegal trade (3). Criminals utilize reputation by having trust as a commodity, serving the adequate demand (4). And by analyzing these criminals who earn power by serving demands of wildlife, chances for reducing illegal trade become slimmer and slimmer.
Furthermore, there are consequences when these activities prolong. When China continues its wildlife trade in the industry, the number of wildlife animal dwindles. There are only 3,890 tigers in the wild today (World Wildlife Fund 2015), and they are in danger of extinction. Similarly, in Racing Extinction, (a documentary discussing the issues of the planet, environment damage) when it covered the black market in Hong Kong and other places in the world, there were tiger heads on the shelves, packed in rows. The recent coverage of this footage, proves the very fact that the trade of endangered animals takes place in the current.
What I decided to do, is create illustrations of endangered animals, but in the reverse. I have drawn human figures as animals. I wanted people to feel that killing an animal’s life, is still killing a life. They need to realize how serious the issue is, and people need to stop poaching.
I have made an instagram account to post my photos. It is called saveanimalsgg. Although this media can be very limiting, I think that social media can have a big impact.
I was pleased with the way my presentation turned out in class, however I learned within a few minutes of my presentation that fifteen minutes was not enough time to fully explain my whole project and therefore, I was not able to fully present my project and its best. That being said, I believe I was able to convey some of the main ideas in my project. The main points I wanted to highlight in my presentation were how each of the characters in “The Lorax” were symbols for environmental issues in the world today. However, I learned that in order for this presentation to be useful to a general audience, I would need to rework it and make some revisions.
Prior to beginning my project after I had many different formats of presentation that I was considering. Ultimately, I chose Prezi to present my information in the most aesthetically pleasing and concise way possible. I initially had trouble working through the book and trying to decide what motifs in “The Lorax” were important to highlight. After sifting through Dr.Seuss’ imaginative language and coming up with a list of important characters and metaphors, I needed to discover what they all meant. This proved to be the most enlightening and exciting aspect of my process.
I started with THE LORAX, who represents all of the companies and protesters against logging and dumping products in an animal environment. The Hershey Company aims to source 100% of their palm oil needs from sustainable sources by the end of the year and ensures that they will not purchase palm oil through deforestation. In response to mass deforestation in Indonesia, Disney is no longer associated with paper suppliers who have been linked to deforestation. Disney has stopped using paper prodcuts that do not meet the FSC-Controlled Wood Standards.
Next, was THE ONCE-LER, who represents all of the companies whose factories destroy environmental resources and surrounding areas. While most are fully aware of the damage caused, they proceed to deny it is their doing. A company called Sinar Mas, reminded me of the Once-ler. The Palm oil subsidiary of Sinar Mas has been accused of causing deforestation in Indonesian rainforests. This corporation has also been targeted as one of the eight companies responsible for sending hazardous levels of smog into Singapore and Malaysia. Companies such as Unilever, Nestle, and Burger King have all dropped Sinar Mas as their paper and palm oil supplier, due to the large amount of damage the company has had on the environment.
THE YOUNG BOY represents a chance for change in the environment for harm and waste. The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) attempts to reach the average American audience by offering programs around the country that educate people about nature, climate, weather, and health in order for the participants to create personal ties and to understand how the environment impacts their lives.
SWOMEE SWANS represent the consequences of all unchecked air pollution. Air pollution particles increase the risk of contracting cardiovascular and respiratory disease. Globally, more than 3 million people die prematurely due to air pollution. By 2050, it is predicted that 6.6 million premature deaths around the world will be caused by extended exposure to air pollution.
BARBALOOTS represent the land animals that cannot continue to live in their environment due to waster and pollution. About 80% of wildlife live in the rainforest, many of which are the most vulnerable to deforestation. When there species lose a place to live, the become easier to hunt and therefore their populations begins to decrease and some go extinct. Some species that are currently threatened due to deforestation are the Amur Leopard (Around 60 in existence), the Black Rhino (Around 5,000 in existence), and the Cross River Gorilla (200-3000 in existence).
HUMMING FISH represent all consequences of unmitigated water pollution. Around 2 years ago, the state of Michigan decided to switch the Flint water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River in order to save money, although the river is know for its polluted water. The water was eroding the iron water main pipes, turning the water brown and lead began to enter the water supply. A young pediatric doctor in the area noticed lead levels doubling and tripling in her patients’ blood levels, which is irreversible.
TRUFFULA TREES represent the materials that companies use for themselves that is from the environment. Some over-exploited resources include fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal), precious metals, trees, and water. Problems that arise with exploitation of naturals resources include deforestation, forced migrations of species, soil erosion, ozone depletion, water pollution, and the threat of natural disaster.
GRICKLE GRASS represents all of the plants that cannot continue to grow and flourish. Habitat loss, deforestation, and acid rain have caused many species of plant life to become threatened. This does not only reduce the amount of diversity in plant life, but also reduces the amount of nutrients and habitats for different wildlife. Some threatened species include tongue fern, dwarf lake iris, prairie fringed orchid, and Houghton’s goldenrod.
SMOGULA SMOKE represents the air pollution made by companies. American Electric Power (AEP) emits 130 metric tons carbon dioxide a year. This accounts for about 2% of the American annual total.
GLUPPITY GLUP represents all waste caused by manufacturing and industrial companies On April 20, 2010, an explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig caused a sea-floor oil gusher to flow for 87 days into the Gulf of Mexico. It is considered the largest accidental marine oil spill in history. Due to the spill, extensive damage was caused to marine and wildlife habitats. In 2013, it was reported that animals continued to die at exponential rates due to the explosion.
THNEEDS represent fad products companies manufacture that are quickly no longer in demand. The clothing industry is the second largest polluter in the world, next to oil. The production includes raw material, textile manufacturing, clothing construction, shipping, retail, and disposal of the garment. Determining the footprint of this industry is nearly impossible due to the immense variety in production processes. However, a general assessment must take into account not only obvious pollutants – the pesticides used in cotton farming, dyes used in manufacturing and the amount of natural resources used in extraction, farming, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, and shipping.
After my analysis, I covered a brief history of “The Lorax.” “The Lorax” was published in 1971, a year after the first Earth Day was held. Dr. Seuss chose to set the story in a post-apocalyptic landscape in order to show the consequences of excessive industrialization. “The Lorax” was Dr. Seuss’s way of critiquing capitalism. He implied that the Once-ler relied on an aggressive advertising campaign in order to promote thneeds, a product that has no real purpose, in order to explain how advertising creates a false need for products with temporary appeal. Pro-business groups have attacked “The Lorax” as environmental propaganda and the book has been banned in some schools and libraries. A book very similar to “The Lorax” called “The Truax” was sponsored by the logging industry from the pro-consumerism point of view in response to Dr. Seuss’s book. In 1988, a school district in California has “The Lorax” on the second grade reading list. Terri Birkett, a member of a family owned hardwood flooring company, wrote “The Truax” and it was published by the National Oak Flooring Manufacturers’ Association (NOFMA).
I also thought it was important to do a section in my presentation about what we can learn from “The Lorax” at any age.
The final aspect of my presentation were four pictures where I took characters from the Lorax and put them in current environmental situations.
Swomee Swans having to leave due to excessive smog and air pollution caused by Indonesian clothing factories.
The Young Boy finding a deserted forest in the Sumatran rainforest where there used to be ample amounts of wildlife and plant life.
Humming fish having to leave the water they live in due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill polluting their waters.
The Lorax appearing from the stump of a tree that has been cut down in the Sumatran rainforest for palm oil.
I really enjoyed learning about companies who are trying to make a difference and reduce deforestation, such as Disney and Hershey. I found researching environmental issues, such as deforestation in the Sumatran rainforests due to unsustainable farming of palm oil, the Indonesian clothing industry, over-exploited resources, and specific events, like the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, very eye-opening. What I ultimately enjoyed most about my project was that it allowed me to learn about topics of a wide array. I was able to research so many different environmental issues that I was previously unaware of. I also really enjoyed taking some of the characters from the book and putting them in current environmental situations. I am not a Photoshop expert whatsoever (I used it for the first time in this project!), so it was fun to learn how to utilize some of those tools to put the end of my presentation together. I hope that I am able to finesse my skills in order to make the end product of the pictures even better.
Some of my notes from when I was initially outlining my Prezi presentation
The main reason I chose to do a project based on “The Lorax” was because I genuinely believe in the message the book conveys. In Green World, I have learned that there are so many different ways to make the general public aware of environmental issues in the world and as artists, it is our job to inspire change. As odd as it may seem, Dr. Seuss is an artist. He has used his art (in this case a childrens’ book) to convey a message and evoke change. I wanted to further elaborate on the groundwork he had already laid out with “The Lorax.” I believe that fully analyzing the book and applying his fictional dystopian world to the real world is necessary in order to fully appreciate the message of “The Lorax.”
Perhaps the most difficult part of this project for me was to find 10 strangers to impact through this project. One day I decided that the specific people I wanted to impact with my first version of my project were adults who were fans of “The Lorax.” This lead me to a specialty children’s bookstore called “Books of Wonder.” I had the opportunity to speak with the manager of the store about my findings in “The Lorax” and why I find that it such an essential book to have on the shelves at children’s bookstores. She and I discussed “The Truax” and she introduced me to various staff members who were very kind and willing to discuss my findings with them further. I brought up my presentation and discussed what I had found with the staff of the book store. One of the women told me that she wished I had come in earlier, because she had just read “The Lorax” to a group of children on Earth Day and would have loved to have shared some of the facts I had shared with her and her co-workers. I unfortunately was not permitted to take pictures in the bookstore with the staff members, but I am very happy that I was able to have an in-depth discussion with people who love children’s books and who have felt that the impact of these books on their lives have been great enough for them to want to currently work in a specialty bookstore of this kind.
I hope that this presentation can be used as groundwork for a potential teaching tool. I have spoken with teachers, principals, and others who work in environmental education about my project and potentially adapting it to the needs of their classrooms. I think that in order for this project to go further, many revisions to my presentation must be made, but what is great about this project is that “The Lorax” has stood the test of time and concern for the environment is still quite apparent. A project such as this will have to change with time in order to stay pertinent and engaging. I am grateful for the opportunity of presenting my project to the class, because ultimately, it was a “first draft” of what this presentation can be. I needed the experience of presenting this in front of my colleagues to understand what the next step in the process must be. I have no doubt that this project can make change, but first I need to go back to the drawing board and decide what needs to be revised, deleted, and added.
New York is dirty, there is trash everywhere on the streets, it constantly smells like fumes, yet people continue to be very set in their own ways. All of these New York factors have somehow made me even more environmentally conscious throughout the years. The fact that so many of these issues are prominent around us in our daily lives should make us feel the urgency to act upon cleaning up our surroundings: or at least slow down its pollution.
The air that humans breathe in cities is polluted by running vehicles, fossil fuels, and manufacturing chemicals. There are pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, black carbon, and dust. These are terrible pollutants that are the cause for many cancer cases and a 6% annual death rate in NYC. With the average adult breathing in over 3,000 gallons of air every day it is frightening that people still persist in believing that pollution is a myth.
In order to slowly bring people to the realization of the situation, I want to show them small steps to becoming eco-friendly in an urban household in an environment such as New York. I’ve noticed that a lot of people do want to be “green” but often think that they do not have the tools, the knowledge, or the up-bringing to do so.
Growing up, I was not taught about simple eco-friendly habits and now that I am older and live on my own, I have found it difficult to get into a routine of being environmentally conscious and sometimes think that the information I find on the internet is not direct enough in telling me how to help the planet.
To help people like me, and to make their lives easier, I have created a series of quick videos demonstrating simple household tricks for those interested in helping the environment just by making a couple of small changes in their lifestyle. Every seemingly minor action can have an enormous effect on the larger picture of cleaning our environment if we all learn to incorporate eco-friendly actions into our daily life.
To calculate my results, I measured in subscriber numbers on my YouTube channel. To spread awareness about the project, I posted about it on my Facebook and asked people to share my channel with anyone they may know. I also contacted my friends who live in different states or even countries to ask them to tell their friends about it, and to subscribe if they enjoyed it or found it to be helpful. I wanted to spread awareness about my channel organically and through word of mouth, because that’s when people tend to pay the most attention. This process took place over the course of 2 weeks. The result is:
In the future, I would like to continue The Lazy Person’s Guide To Eco-Friendliness in order to cover more environmental topics. I got a positive response from people in the comments section who liked that so much information was packed into such a short video. The efficiency of the project made them want to see more and I hope to continue growing the channel.
Sources For Facts In Videos:
I have been working on my final project for around a month now and have found some very interesting material that I am excited to share with the class. I have been dissecting Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax”, taking the individual components of the story and applying them to various modern day events in order to show that a children’s book is not only for entertainment purposes but can also be used as a learning device in order to encourage change in the world. As an artist, I believe that we can use various mediums in order to reach people of many ages. What I have found in my research is what makes “The Lorax” such an important book for environmental change, is that it reaches various ages. Adults (school teachers, parents, babysitters) read this story to children and therefore audiences of various ages receive the message of the story.
What I think is special about my project is that I am taking Dr. Seuss’ message and presenting it in a way that makes the fanciful world of Seuss more concrete. I have provided evidence to show how the make believe world Seuss has created is actually not far off from the truth of our current society. I am excited to start putting the finishing touches on my project and share my work with you!
With the event in the article above, competition for our ocean’s diminishing resources has begun a new chapter.
Which is the greater danger – nuclear warfare or the population explosion? The latter absolutely! To bring about nuclear war, someone has to DO something; someone has to press a button. To bring about destruction by overcrowding, mass starvation, anarchy, the destruction of our most cherished values-there is no need to do anything. We need only do nothing except what comes naturally – and breed. And how easy it is to do nothing.
— Dr. Isaac Asimov, biochemist and science writer (in this 1966 interview he predicted that the world’s population would reach 6 billion around 2000. Possibly due to the dystopian vision of an overcrowded planet in his science fiction books, most leaders dismissed his prediction as outrageous. Global population passed the six billion mark in 1999.)
As mentioned, Tucker and I’s interview with Alfred Meyer went very well. We have reviewed the footage and though we will have to cut it down considerably (we have almost 25 minutes of interview for our 5-10 minute documentary) we got a ton of great information. But unfortunately we did not take any production stills. Alfred did wear the same outfit as he did during his talk about Fukushima, so the photo below is good reference. Additionally the bookcase in the second photo is the same one in Alfred’s apartment which used for our interview backdrop.
Alfred Meyer at the “Global Health and Environment in the Post-2015 Agenda Talk.
Alfred Meyer’s reference photo for the Physicians for Social Responsibility webpage.
Additionally my wonderful partner Tucker Pearson was able to attend an event sponsored by Stop the Algonquin Pipeline (SAPE) where protestors addressed a variety of environmental issues. The event particularly revolved around the current implementation of a natural gas pipeline which will be installed less than 105 feet away from Indian Point infrastructure. Alfred Meyer touched briefly on this new development in Indian Point’s dangerous history. Today, concerned citizens and activists alike gathered to draw attention to this pipeline (which many experts have asserted could lead to a nuclear disaster equal to or greater than to Fukushima meltdown of 2011.) At the event Tucker shot B-roll of the Indian Point power plant itself, filmed some of the anti-nuclear power talks, and spoke to local activists. Here is some behind the scene footage of Tucker’s adventure:
The crowd at the SAPE2016 Event.
Indian Point nuclear power plant on the Hudson River.
This cute doggie calls for the shutdown of Indian Point.
I unfortunately was not in attendance for our esteemed guest speaker, George Pakenham, an environmental activist who has focused his energies on the idle car issue in New York City. But after reading everyone’s blog posts about his informative and inspiring visit to the Green World family and watching his independently made documentary, Idle Threat, I’m coming to better understand the term activist (here is a really great article about 50 famous environmentalists who are working towards saving and sustaining our planet).
Watching George’s turbulent and at times maddeningly frustrating journey really put what it means to be a true activist into perspective for me. When we think about the word, we immediately correlate it to someone who is passionate about a cause and his become somewhat of a spokesperson for it, which is simple enough. But being in this class has made me realize that our simple, and superficial understanding of the world around out and the detriments we are putting it in, is the root of the problem in the first place. Watching George’s journey helped me visualize, for the first time ever, the action that goes into activism. He fought tooth and nail to combat the lax law enforcements of the City of New York and sometimes it didn’t even pay off. He funded and produced his own documentary to help spread the word on the matter. He approached strangers on a daily basis to convince them to stop their idling. He waited for no one. He did it all on his own.
And that’s what being an activist is all about: it’s about taking matters into your own hands and it’s about doing. The problems that we face today are all because we’re waiting for someone else to do the job for us. We are just as idle as the the idling engines of the cars that get stuck in traffic every day on the busy streets of New York, waiting for a George Pakenham to come save the day. The sad truth behind this all: it really only takes a turn of a key. The world will become a more sustainable place to live when we no longer need the George Pakenham’s of the world to remind us to do a simple task we can do on our own.
I’ve taken away something very meaningful from reading about George and learning about his work that will help my project become a much more productive effort. In my last blog post I mentioned how it is my hope to make the Green World snapchat a thing that can be passed down to next year’s class and a source for this current class to come together (as I would love for fellow classmates to take over for a day). I am more convinced of this idea now because activism is clearly its most successful when it a “by the people, for the people” type campaign. And that’s what I want this snapchat to be. I am just an ordinary college student, doing ordinary things, speaking on behalf of ordinary people. That way, anyone from anywhere can feel like what I’m saying is accessible and not feel intimidated or threatened or bombarded by facts and statistics and chats. It’s a Snapchat by the people. For the people.