I hate to be a cynic because cynicism is the natural enemy of optimism and I have always considered myself to be somewhat of an optimist but it is hard for me not be just a little cynical about Saturday’s Live Earth concerts.
First of all, let’s not fool ourselves, the majority of the people at these concerts were there to see Madonna or the Black Eyed Peas or The Police and if you asked them what a carbon footprint was they would probably knock you over on their way to the beer tent after telling you that they must have missed that band. That’s not to say I don’t agree with the idea behind Live Earth. Global warming is not a fallacy, it is a real problem and we need to collectively get our heads out of our asses and deal with the problem now but a series of rock concerts? I mean really, that is so ‘80s. On top of that, as both the Arctic Monkeys (who didn’t participate) and Snow Patrol (who did) pointed out, touring musicians are one of the greatest contributors of CO2 emissions out there although admittedly that is something that is changing due to the work of such organizations as Reverb. Still, watching the various concerts and those huge lighting trusses and banks of amplifiers or thinking of those idling broadcast trucks in all the venues parking lots bringing the images into our homes couldn’t make you but shake your head and wonder if somehow the point could have been made in a bit more of an environmentally benign way.
I will give the organizers their due in that they have tried to lessen the environmental impact as much as possible as a quick glance at their Green Event Guidelines point out but when somebody like Madonna has parked in her garage a Mercedes Maybach, two Range Rovers, an Audi A8 and a Mini Cooper S (according to the Guardian) you have to wonder if the performers are taking this whole thing to heart. A big thumbs up to Simon LeBon of Duran Duran who sarcastically asked the question “who did not show up at Wembley in a private jet?” A good point to be sure.
As for the entertainment value of the whole thing, I was impressed at watching Madonna strut around with a Gibson LesPaul slung low and those Pussycat Dolls are, ahem mighty impressive but I think I am pretty much Stinged out although it was interesting to see James Hetfield’s Talibanesque beard. Personally the highlights for me were Spinal Tap and those part-time scientist-musicians in Antarctica so that pretty much shows where I stand on all of this.
At the end of the day I suppose if it convinces a good number (how many?) of people to buy those new low-wattage fluorescent light bulbs and to change their day-to-day way of living to at least make some relatively simple changes to their routine then the whole exercise will have been somewhat of a success. My big question is how many people out there are tired of being preached to by rock stars and pop tarts and by extension refuse to listen to anything they have to say, no matter how right it may be? I am not sure I would do anything that James Blunt asked me to do but if Shakira asked I suppose I might change my tune…
Cynical? Maybe just a little bit.
If you are looking for some ways you can lessen your impact on the environment and reign in your contribution to global warming the Live earth site does have some good suggestions and tools and Greenpeace has published the handy How to Save the Climate so you can start there.
Every little bit helps.