Live Earth: The Morning After

The morning after Live Earth.

It’s the morning after Live Earth, the largest event of its kind, according to Al Gore. Despite its scale, impressive as it is, the proof of its value will come later when we learn if the public awareness and calls to action have lasting effect.

As I watched, I had several reactions beyond the entertainment value of the music itself. These are observations, not criticism. It’s too easy to sit back and criticize. Pulling off a global event with as many moving parts as this was a monumental achievement.

First, the message for any movement must be reduced to its simplest and most obvious form. When Al Gore asked the crowd at the Meadowlands to take the Live Earth pledge I thought he would offer this simple formula. Instead, his first point sounded more like the preamble to a treaty on global warming, which was, in fact, what he asked the crowd to support. He asked us to lobby the government to sign an international treaty on global warming with specific measurements and outcomes. Serious as this action step is, it was almost comical to hear it stated in that venue in all its wordy glory. Keep the message simple. “Save the earth. Recycle. Don’t waste. Walk, don’t drive. Carpool. Save water, bathe less. ” 🙂

The second musing I have is that celebrity isn’t enough to build support for a cause. In fact, some of the innane interview comments of celebrities trivialized the seriousness of this cause. It’s about the message and even celebrities must stay on message. There are articulate celebrity spokespersons, Bono being foremost, but the wisp of celebrity is hardly a solid basis for joining a cause.

Third, some of the criticism of the global event had a point. It’s fair to ask if the behavior of the sponsor is consistent with the values we are being called upon to support. Similarly, it’s fair to ask if the the event itself models the behavior we are asked to live out ourselves. Live Earth attempted to do this, but in an entertainment venue noted more for excess and extravagant celebration than for earth friendly responsibility. Whether it was able to overcome this incongruity, I don’t know. Will the entertainers and promoters actually make arena events more green? Time will tell.

But, we are more aware. The makings of a global movement has begun and with Al Gore continuing to keep global warming in front of us in new and innovative ways, perhaps this generation will become the advocates for the Earth that their elders have failed so miserably to be.

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