Jul. 8, 2007

Saving the Earth with Rock and Roll

Well yesterday was 7/7/07 and the big Live Earth Concert which has saved us all just in the nick of time. By the middle of Madonna's second number, the Greenland Ice Sheet had started to refreeze and what with Al Gore's enormous investment in carbon offsets, we should all be laying in extra firewood for the cold winters ahead. Polar bears are celebrating.

Sarcasm aside, this whole event is quite depressing in the way it typifies our pathetic response to the very real climate crisis. Scientists like Monbiot and Lovelock are painting a very grim picture; according to the latter, we may already have passed the critical "tipping point" where the earth system is going into positive feedback through reduced albedo and released methane from the melting of the Canadian and Siberian permafrost. People at all levels, even the thickest of politicians, are finally facing the facts, about twenty years too late.

But what are we doing about it? Putting in flourescent bulbs mostly. And on the political level, setting ambitious "targets" decades in the future, targets without concrete plans in most cases.

And, oh yeah, holding rock concerts. A really good article from the online Daily Mail has the following snippet;

A Daily Mail investigation has revealed that far from saving the planet, the extravaganza will generate a huge fuel bill, acres of garbage, thousands of tonnes of carbon emissions, and a mileage total equal to the movement of an army.

The most conservative assessment of the flights being taken by its superstars is that they are flying an extraordinary 222,623.63 miles between them to get to the various concerts - nearly nine times the circumference of the world. The true environmental cost, as they transport their technicians, dancers and support staff, is likely to be far higher.

The total carbon footprint of the event, taking into account the artists' and spectators' travel to the concert, and the energy consumption on the day, is likely to be at least 31,500 tonnes of carbon emissions, according to John Buckley of Carbonfootprint.com, who specialises in such calculations.

But take solace in the fact that they've bought all kinds of guilt removing "carbon offsets."

The hard fact is that if we can stop this warming at all (which is doubtful, curly light bulbs or no) it can only be done by massively scaling back our (meaning the rich countries) lifestyles. Use less power, travel less, consume less. In many cases it may not hurt to eat less. Nobody wants to face up to that yet, and probably won't until Mother Nature scales back our lifestyles for us, the hard way.


Anonymous said...

Haha. I love the 24-Hour Fitness photo. Another sad thing about those places is that people will also circle the parking lot several times until they get a parking spot that is close to the entrance. Heaven forbid they should have to WALK (hello! free exercise!) across the parking lot in order to work out.

Tom said...

You are right, of course. But humans need of a lot of being whacked over the head to get their attention. I think this big, burly concert thing was necessary. A necessary failure so that we can get to some more-sensible bleetings about what will befall us so that we may divert the 6-billion-ton ship of Western culture a little away from melting iceburg.

The most we can hope for is something astoundingly significant: a slightly less painful catastrophic Dark Ages.

glenn fitzgerald said...

Punnadhammo, you don't have to be completely despairing about the politics of the environment. That is because the whole of politics in the U.S may be undergoing a giant upheaval.

You might find one particular comment I made on Blogs Canada a hopeful challenge to your pessimism. So here it is:


"Koby, you really need to see Moore's counter-attack on CNN, where Moore skewered Gupta's "facts."

Here is the link:


You also need to track Kieth Olberman's site:


Olberman and to some extent Moore seem to be forming the center of a huge revolt brewing in the United States against it's political system and elites. This revolt is just now gathering momentum.

A few recent commentary videos of Olberman on MSNBC had me riveted in my seat. Those commentaries likely rate as the most powerfully and passionately delivered ever in American history. And I don't think I'm exaggerating. Go to the following links and you might see what I mean:



I think it's just possible that revolt might turn the American Republic away from the strange and suicidal course it has of the recent decade embarked on at the behest of neo-conservative ideology.

The gathering revolt against the established political order bears watching---who knows that it won't lead to a new health care system in the U.S. Who knows that the revolt won't lead to a completely new kind of government in Washington."



The "organic" whole of established politics has to change before anything really significant happens to force governments to really address the environment.

So, that's the good news, Punnadhammo.

You might also track Blogs Canada. I can promise you that in the coming weeks and months some impassioned attacks on the Canadian media and political scene will also gather steam.

Glenn Fitzgerald.

solitaire said...

I was just listening to a BBC radio programme this morning on obesity. It struck me quite hard as i had just watched James Nachtwey's film "War Photographer" the night before. Half the world is struggling with poverty and starvation, and the other half is combating obesity and heart (in every sense of the word) disease.

glenn fitzgerald said...


scott said...

Sentiments, please stop flying