Saturday, February 21, 2015

Three Short Films

This is the original animation of The Lorax, from 1972 (much thanks to Synthetic_Zero for posting it). There was a more recent version, which unsurprisingly, is presented with a rosier view of humanity's relentless exploitation of the natural world.

It is so bleak - "If I don't do it, somebody else will" - in fact, that it reminded me of this brilliant and stark satire of human nature:

Both of these are completely unsentimental and offer none of the popular idealized, romanticized alternate view of the behavior of humanity - which is a relief, since from any objective viewpoint, it's undeniably true that our practices have been, in general, so self-serving that we aren't even aware of just how anthropocentric we are.

This is inadvertently illustrated in the Greenpeace documentary below in which indigenous people decry factory fishing (quite understandably) because it is threatening "their" food supply.  One of them even describes themselves as being "part of the ecosystem" which seems absurd since the ecosystem would be just fine without any people there at all.

Depicted, but not discussed, is that they are living in houses produced by industrialized civilization, driving vehicles and boats built using industrial mining and powered by oil, wearing clothing produced and transported by industrial manufacturing - even the children's toys are plastic.  All of these modern amenities only exist, because somewhere, somebody else lost their traditional homeland to industrial agriculture and mineral extraction and drilling.  I wonder how many in the audience who have seen this film at all the "festivals" where it was shown noticed that glaring dichotomy.


  1. "Mister!" he said with a sawdusty sneeze.
    "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" –
    He was very upset as he shouted and puffed –
    "What's that THING you've made out of my Truffula tuft?"
    I am the Lorax who speaks for the trees,
    Which you seem to be chopping as fast as you please!
    But I'm also in charge of the brown Bar-ba-loots,
    Who played in the shade in their Bar-ba-loot suits,
    And happily lived, eating Truffula fruits.
    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!
    UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
    nothing is going to get better. It's not.
    "So . . .
    Catch!" calls the Once-ler.
    He lets something fall.
    "It's a Truffula Seed.
    It's the last one of all!
    You're in charge of the last of the Truffula Seeds.
    And Truffula Trees are what everyone needs.
    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."
    Now all that was left 'neath the bad-smelling sky
    was my big empty factory...
    the Lorax...
    and I.
    The Lorax said nothing.
    Just gave me a glance,
    just gave me a very sad, sad backward glance,
    as he lifted himself by the seat of his pants.
    And I'll never forget the grim look on his face
    when he heisted himself and took leave of this place,
    through a hole in the smog, without leaving a trace.
    And all that the Lorax left here in this mess
    was a small pile of rocks with the one word:
    Whatever that meant . . . well, I just couldn't guess.
    peace, dmf

    1. Thank you! I must have hit "publish" when I meant to save it for later (duh!) - this is what I had intended.

  2. Your commentary on the "Ecosystem in Crisis" video surprises me -- I think we *can* be part of the larger ecosystem. There's a place for predators in any ecosystem... within reason.

    When our predation wipes out an ecosystem, then it's gone too far.

    Factory fishing tends in that direction -- and is several orders of magnitude (100x, or 1000x, or 10,000x) more destructive than anything the Bering Sea natives have ever done, living within the carrying capacity of the ecosystem.

  3. But that is what we do, and have always done - isn't it - it's just a matter of time. We certainly *are* part of the larger ecosystem, and we are overwhelming it with our numbers and our ability to destroy everything. Basic ecology/evolution. So yes, factory fishing is considerably worse than the earlier extinctions caused by humans, but only in scale, not in kind.

  4. We certainly have, in our earlier history, sucked up every molecule, for profit... or turned any perceived advantage, into a billionaire or two.... or twisted any desire, into a satisfied desire (for a price)....

    I like to think that now that we are able to grapple with the inevitable true cost of our actions, we'll begin to pull back from the worst waste. That is, we'll acknowledge our own overshoot.

    That's a tall order, but also an appropriate one, if we can confront it that far.

    1. Michael did you ever watch Sea of Slaughter? Humans devastated ecosystems long before factory fishing.

      Driving megafauna destroyed ecosystems too, 40 or 50,000 years ago - my removing linchpin species (and using fire) entire ecosystems were transformed. People now just don't remember what was once there, so we accept it as "normal". The whaling industry began on the beaches in Nantucket, and by the time they stopped they had chased what few remained all the way around South America up to the northern Pacific. Also for instance, there are still osage orange trees, but they are one species that narrowly escaped extinction when humans slaughtered the huge animals that could digest their fruit and distribute their seeds. Because their wood was especially good for hunting bows, Indians grew the trees and one group had a monopoly on them, trading them with other tribes. The white settlers discovered they make a dense thicket when coppiced and used them as hedgerows so they multiplied on farms, and still grow along the road I live on. Other trees are gone forever.

      I don't disagree that acknowledging our own overshoot is an appropriate thing to do, but on the planet I live on, I see absolutely no evidence that is happening or will happen. None. Deforestation and pollution are increasing, population is increasing, while meanwhile we are running out of fresh water, and the climate is spinning out of control. It IS out of control - sea level rise is unstoppable, according to the scientists, which means all the cities and fertile deltas and low lying islands will be gone. I can't imagine that the people that live there are going to be evacuated and welcomed elsewhere in peace.


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