Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Coal Company Kidnaps the Lorax

Coal Company Kidnaps the Lorax

A coal company has decided to call itself Lorax, the name of a beloved Dr. Seuss character who stood against industrialization and exploitation of pristine environments. In fact, the Lorax didn’t want a single tree cut down. Each was sacred and precious. As were all the animals. And too the great harmony of the environment. The Lorax was special, a defender of a beautiful world unsullIed by ax, shovel, and oil. The Lorax stood for a worldview that the tree cutters and factory-makers and product producers couldn’t understand--because they were focused on profit, fat cars, and energy-guzzling homes.

Basically the Lorax is the antithesis of coal mining and everything that coal mining says about our sick society. The Lorax is the genius loci of the forest.

From the article:

[The company, calling itself LoraxAG, is a startup based in Marlborough, Mass., seeking to develop a “shovel-ready coal gasification and chemical production facility to make fertilizer for America’s farms,” according to the company’s Web site.

“There’s no reason for them to use the term,” said Karl ZoBell, the longtime lawyer for Dr. Seuss Enterprises, “except to purloin the good will attached to the book and use it for a company that appears to be the opposite of everything the book is about.”]


This is a classic technique used by money-hungry men: take a magical concept, associated with beauty, spirituality and harmony, and use it as a mask for amoral grubbing. It’s as if they want to destroy the ideal, which seems beyond their grasp, by assimilating it into their worldview in the way that a monster of iron and fuming oil devours an angel.

They don’t do this consciously, I suspect, though you can imagine a particularly malign CEO who is sick of “hippies and granola” and who wants to stick it to them good by taking the symbols they adore and dragging them through the corporate muck.

Recently I did a blog entry on a car reporter who described an Audi muscle car (13 mpg) as the “Avatar of automobiles” and referred to its color as “Na’vi blue.” In case you don’t know, in the movie Avatar, the Na’vi are the people of the planet Pandora, who live as hunter gatherers in a primordial forest with NO machines whatsoever, let alone gasoline hogs for narcissists. Their way of life is a sacred union with nature. Attaching them to cars is inherently contradictory and ethically repugnant.

The Na’vi are anti-car, yet their image has been stolen by a flashy sophist and used to promote a car. The Lorax is quintessentially anti-coal, and yet the coal company in Marlborough doesn’t get it. Or maybe they do, and they want to attract attention. Either way, it’s a prostitution and perversion of what I like to call "planet respect."

The Marlborough Men’s sin is right out of the Bible, the sort of warning given against the Devil:

“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil.”

If there is a Satan (which I doubt, incidentally, until we create him) he would proceed in just the way these corporates do. He would take the Cross as his symbol, using it to cloak a false religion that preaches materialism, selfishness and rape of the Earth.

Satan grabs the Cross and wields it as a shiny logo. The Marlborough Men expropriate the Lorax.

Honestly, on an ethico-conceptual level, I can’t think of anything sadder or more perverse. It shows what we’re up against if we as a society want to heal.

How do you reach those who think that all the Lorax stands for is a “cleaner” way to exploit the land? Of course, “clean” is being misused, too. There’s nothing clean about coal mining, no matter how you shovel it.

And hence the Orwellian and ridiculous idea of “clean coal.”

Games within games. Lies within Lies. Labyrinths of falsehoods wrapped around each other until they form a sickening likeness of a face. The Lorax painted in lies.

How do you fight this? This level of subterfuge? This level of sneaky tactic? This level of disregard for nature? They just want to manipulate mind and matter to make a buck.

These coal guys are as bad as the worst of cheating spouses, who will tell their wives anything to avoid facing not only the truth, but their hidden emotional wounds. Men like this should not be allowed to rule the world.


  1. yes this is greenwash of the worst kind, an emotional manipulation that a lot of people I suspect won't even think about because most of us are too swept up in corporatespeak and consumerism. I think this mindset is changing but not quickly enough

  2. "clean coal", "avatar of cars"...

    these companies put the "moron" in oxymoron.

  3. Crafty Green! I always appreciate your tinge of optimism, and I just want to say that OWL is my outlet, and yet, like you, I see many positive trends--much hope.

    Good to hear from you! You are a great inspiration to me.

  4. SW,

    What can I say, I agree with your analysis. It's almost like we are turning into each other... ;)