The Lorax

The Lorax

All this talk about Dr. Seuss reminded me of one his stories, “The Lorax.” In that story, an entrepreneur known as the Once-Ler comes across the forest of truffula trees. He uses them to create his wonder product, the Thneed. He also comes across the Lorax, who warns him of the devastation that awaits as the Once-Ler seeks to constantly increase production and profits.

Eventually, the Once-Ler’s actions lead to the extinction of the truffula trees, and bring him to financial ruin. The site of the truffula forest becomes an environmental wasteland.

The Once-Ler’s problem was he let his own greed and short-sightedness get the better of him. If he had taken care of his resources, and worked with nature rather than against it, he could’ve made his Thneeds a sustainable industry, and there could’ve been truffula trees and Thneeds for generations to come.

No doubt the Once-Ler was brilliant for creating the Thneed. However, by not taking care of his resources and thinking only of short-term profit, he proved to be a fool.

I thought of this in regards to the reports I’ve seen of groundwater depletion in rural Arizona, and the failure of the Legislature to take any action regarding this. It’s seems to me they are being very short-sighted on this.

The big agricultural interests, most of them from outside Arizona and even outside the United States, are being greedy and short-sighted in how they use the water. Much of Arizona relies on groundwater. Aquifers do replenish themselves, but they’ll go dry if water is taken out at a faster rate than it can be replenished.

This appears to be happening all over state. According to a Phoenix newspaper, of 33,000 wells surveyed, more than one-quarter had seen their water levels drop by more than 100 feet since they were drilled. Mohave County has seen the amount of water taken from the ground increase by 400 percent in the last decade.

This level of water extraction can’t be sustained. We see rural residents whose wells have gone dry due to the large-scale agricultural use. Unlike the big agri-business interests, they can’t afford to drill deeper wells. For that matter, many small farms and ranches can’t afford to drill deeper, either.

By not acting against this irresponsible use of our precious groundwater, the leadership of the Legislature has shown that, like the Once-Ler, they are placing short term gains and profits over long-term sustainability.

As many of the big agri-business interests are from outside Arizona, they won’t have to live with the results of the depletion of the groundwater. They’ll just move somewhere else. It will be the residents with long-term ties to Arizona who will have to live with the results.

I hope Arizona doesn’t become an environmental wasteland like the truffula forest in Dr. Seuss’s book.

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