Troubled water evokes 'Lorax' lessons

More than 40 years ago, Dr. Seuss introduced the world to the Lorax.

The book's message, voiced by the frumpy, mustachioed Lorax, was brilliant in its simplicity:

If we pollute the Earth — either through "schloppity schlopp" in our rivers or "smogulous smoke" in our skies — bad things will happen.

In Seuss's world, the effects of mistreating nature were immediate. Schlopp gummed up the gills of the Humming-Fish. Smoggy skies sickened the Swamee-Swans.

Within 42 pages, pollution turned the land barren.

The story was simple to understand. Kids quickly got it.

Yet today, 40 years later, the Lorax's story lives on in Florida.

It's being told on the front pages of our paper this week where we're learning that almost all of Florida's major springs are in declining health. Once-crystal-blue waters are now tinted green by algae and choked with hydrilla.

We see the schlopp flowing through our major rivers — half of which are now in decline, thanks to everything from industrial pollution to human excrement.

The Sentinel's environmental reporter, Kevin Spear, spent a year kayaking and surveying the state's major rivers and reached the same conclusion as state scientists — Florida's waterways are in trouble.

You don't have to be a tree-hugging Lorax to be concerned.

Water means life in this state.

Our aquifer provides drinking water. Our springs and rivers are key to our tourism and economy. Lakes and marshes provide crucial habitats to animals that are key cogs to the ecosystem.

Yet most of us go through life blissfully unaware of the system that sustains us.

Why, many locals never had even heard of Shingle Creek until Harris Rosen named a massive resort after the headwaters to the Everglades where bald eagles nest, slider turtles breed and river otters frolic.

And those who run this state often ignore and abuse the environment. Last year, Audubon of Florida called the state's budget "the most anti-environment budget this state has ever seen."

Lawmakers dismantled the state's growth-planning agency, closed water-quality offices and slowed plans for the Everglades restoration.

Some of the decisions were amazingly short-sighted. Closing water-monitoring offices at the state's aquatic preserves, for instance, saved only a few hundred thousand dollars … less money than legislators spent renovating their offices some years.

Even more troubling is the increasing animosity some business interests have for those who dare speak for the trees. Last year, a business-backed group actually launched a campaign that tried to convince the public that environmental protectors are the enemy — that people who want clean water really just want to kill jobs.

It was the product of myopic minds.

Original source: Troubled water evokes 'Lorax' lessons on Orlando Sentinel