When I was a boy, my brothers and I and my parents participated in the Cub Scout program. If memory serves me correctly, we would occasionally have Cub Scout gatherings and at the end we would have what they called an “Ice Cream Pig Out.” This consisted of several flavors of ice cream and a variety of toppings to choose from, and everyone helped themselves to creating the ice cream sundae of their choice. Though not the most healthy dessert, it was fun and a very delicious way to celebrate advancement in the Cub Scout program.
Now imagine holding an Ice Cream Pig Out to raise obesity awareness. Maybe not your best option; in fact, it’s quite counter intuitive. Even though the event my raise obesity awareness, the participants in this ice cream binge would be contributing to the obesity problem.
The creators and supporters of Live Earth are apparently suffering from this same twisted logic. Live Earth (according to www.liveearth.org) “is a 24-hour, 7-continent concert series taking place on 7/7/07 that will bring together more than 100 music artists and 2 billion people to trigger a global movement to solve the climate crisis.” Concerts were held on 7/7/07 in eight cities around the globe and also broadcast on TV (though you probably didn’t see it on TV as the concert had record low ratings 1).
One single Live Earth performer, Madonna, created more carbon emissions getting to the concert in her private jet 2 than I would create in 120 years. And just one of the 8 Live Earth Concerts used as much electricity (with it’s corresponding carbon emissions) as my house would use in 3 years.
Of course, when confronted with this hypocrisy “fans in the crowd at Wembley Stadium were unperturbed, with 27-year-old Neil Hanafin telling AFP that, on balance, the concert was ‘more of a positive thing. Raising awareness is what this whole thing is about.'” (http://entertainment.iafrica.com/music/news/194579.htm) “Awareness” of course, is much harder to measure than the carbon emissions of the concert, so it’s easy for them to say it was an overall net positive. But awareness wasn’t even the stated goal of the concert; a solution was the stated goal. And with the amount of emissions coming out of these concerts, a solution appears to have been put on the back burner.
Another rationale Live Earth concert supporters will use is that the organizers bought carbon credits to offset the emissions of the concert. This whole concept of carbon offsets is a ridiculous notion and will perhaps be a subject of a future blog. Until that time, maybe I ought to embrace the offset concept. I wonder what else can you buy offsets for? Speeding maybe? Pay money to an organization dedicated to reducing traffic violations in return for the liberty to speed at will.
I leave you with the advice given Live Earth concert goers, “If you want to save the planet… start jumping up and down!” 3
1. “Perhaps it’s because watching TV isn’t a carbon-neutral activity, or perhaps those Fourth of July hangovers were especially nasty this year, but Saturday’s Live Earth broadcast on NBC was the lowest-rated programming of all four major networks. The Washington Post reports that nearly twice as many people watched a repeat of ‘America’s Most Wanted,’ and even ‘Cops’ beat out the “historic” concert.”
2. “Madonna, who headlined the Wembley concert – one of nine held on all seven continents – seems to have got the most rap for not practising what she preaches. With her nine homes, a private jet, a fleet of cars and a carbon footprint nearly 100 times larger than the average person’s 11 tons of greenhouse gasses per year, the Washington Post points out, it’s not hard to see why. “
“But she wasn’t the only one on stage that night whose life doesn’t exactly fit the climate change message. Some of the artists, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, for example, even used their private jets to get to and from the concerts. At least the British comedian Ricky Gervais acknowledged the paradox in one of his jokes: “We did have to fly some people in on private jets. They do use up a lot of fuel – but it saves queuing.” ” http://www.alertnet.org/db/blogs/1265/2007/06/11-125127-1.htm
3. “If you want to save the planet, I want you to start jumping up and down!” Thus Madonna revealed her plan to combat global warming. Clad in a black satin leotard, she gyrated with dancers and simulated sex with an amplifier and a guitar. Along with the Foo Fighters, the 48-year-old Queen of Pop transformed a Live Earth concert that at times had seemed earnest and slow.”