The LiveEarth menace

I share George Marshall’s skepticism that the LiveEarth concerts are anything but fooling around masquerading as action on climate change. Writing in the Guardian, the founder of Britain’s Climate Outreach and Information Network suggests that they might actually be dangerous:

Live Earth also plays strongly to another powerful denial strategy: the adoption of minimal and tokenistic behaviours as proof of our virtue. One concern is that people will believe that their participation in the concerts is in itself an action against climate change.

And we can be sure that the rock industry has such an overinflated sense of its own importance that it will hammer this message home at every opportunity. “Here we are,” it will shout through the speaker stacks; “the world’s greatest rock stars and two billion people all standing shoulder to shoulder demanding that something happens about climate change. WOW!”

The 1985 LiveAid concerts for Africa were such a success that they had to be repeated 20 years later. Poverty has not been made history by rock concerts. Farms have not been noticeably aided. And consider that the LiveEarth pledge, which attendees are supposed to take, has seven points and five-and-a-half of them are about demanding that other people do things.

What all these things definitely do is permit some big stars and even bigger companies to associate themselves with the cause of the moment. Chevrolet is a sponsor of the LiveEarth concerts, for instance, supposedly because it wants to bring attention to its “fuel solutions,” such as the smaller cars it sells and its work on ethanol-powered engines and fuel cells. Fine. Good for it. But it also continues to sell models like the Chevy Tahoe, under the slogan “Live Better.” Apparently the Tahoe is pretty fuel-efficient for an SUV. It still gets only 15 miles to the gallon.

Demanding things is not the same as doing them. As Marshall writes, two billion people attending or watching rock concerts to which some political goal is attached is not even remotely the same thing as two billion people making a difference.

The Evangelical Ecologist has a roundup of links and observations, focusing particularly on hypocrisy surrounding the concerts, and including this particularly appalling line from Andrew Stockdale of the band Wolfmother that reflects exactly Marshall’s concern:

“Saviors of the world raise your hands,” he shouted.

Sigh.

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