Concerts rock the world to save the planet

Simultaneous “Live Earth” concerts spanning seven continents, showcasing more than 100 performances by famous musicians, is arguably not the solution to the crisis of global warming, but at least it’s a start.

And it’s pretty bad-ass, with a message that reached millions worldwide.

Rockers, rap artists, pop singers and band legends made history July 7, with shows in London, Sydney, Tokyo, Shanghai, Hamburg, Johannesburg and Rio de Janeiro to raise awareness about the devastating consequences of global warming.

Organizers described it as the biggest musical event ever staged, registering viewing parties and tie-in events in a reported 131 countries.

“This is unprecedented, and we believe it has the chance to become a real tipping point in the consciousness of the world, the beginning [of] a focused effort to deal with the very real dangers of climate change,” Live Earth co-founder Kevin Wall told the Los Angeles Times.

The motto for the day was “Answer the Call,” urging people to do whatever they can to combat climate change — from using fluorescent light bulbs to carpooling to demanding their elected representatives pass earth-friendly legislation.

Former Vice President Al Gore, who has made educating the world about global warming his priority, called on fans to lobby governments and adhere to a seven-point pledge to tackle global warming, including demanding more renewable energy and helping to preserve forests.

“Not many years from now, our children and grandchildren will ask one of two questions,” Gore said. “They will either ask, ‘What were they thinking, didn’t they hear the evidence of the scientists? Were they too busy, distracted or greedy, didn’t they care?’ or ‘How did they get their act together to rise and successfully solve the climate crisis?’”

Most scientists now agree that the earth’s atmosphere is warming at the fastest rate in recorded history, leading to melting polar ice caps, more intense storms and increased droughts and floods, and threatening human communities.

The evidence is now compelling that this climate change is caused at least partly by human activities, especially burning fossil fuels like oil and coal.

Live Earth performers included The Police, Kanye West, John Mayer, Melissa Etheridge, The Beastie Boys, Genesis, The Smashing Pumpkins, Dave Matthews, Lenny Kravitz, Macy Gray, Phil Collins, Black Eyed Peas, John Legend, Duran Duran, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica, Foo Fighters and Snoop Dog.

Aboriginal dancers opened the concert in Sydney, Australia. In the U.S., Live Earth kicked off at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

“I think these kinds of concerts can really help make people, especially young people, more aware about environmental protection,” a Shanghai attendee told a Reuters reporter.

Organizers expected to top 2 billion viewers via Internet, television and the live shows.

All the concerts were billed as environmentally friendly with recycling containers dispersed around the stadiums, generators running on biofuels and stages made of recycled tires. Profits will go to the Alliance for Climate Protection, the Climate Group, Stop Climate Chaos and other environmental groups.

Some environmental activists criticized the concerts, attacking the lifestyles of many of the featured stars and questioning how a concert could really be effective unless it forced politicians and corporations to announce concrete environmental measures.

Many of the musicians acknowledged that they were not environmental rock stars in their own lives, but said it was important to start a discussion about climate change.

“If you want to peg me as not being entirely eco-friendly, you’ll win,” John Mayer told reporters after his set. “We’re just getting together saying, ‘We want to be healthier.’”

plozano @pww.org