6 July, 2007
Tomorrow, millions of TV sets all over the world will be on – creating a huge amount of carbon emissions – showing a giant multi-city event which itself will contribute substantially to the environmental pressures we load on our planet every day (in terms of greenhouse gases, pollution and waste).
Of course, the Live Earth concerts’ organisers are aware of the sceptics ‘ potential criticism and have therefore done all they could to give the events a “green” and “climate-neutral” image, but in the end there is no denying that the hugeness of Live Earth will have its ecological price.
That would not be such a big problem if the awareness-raising of such events would also make a huge political impact, but historical examples (Live Aid and others) show that the pressure on politicians lasts not much longer than – in the best case – a few weeks.
So, what other arguments can we use to defend the “Gore concerts”? Maybe the participants and viewers will change their consumption behaviour, buy energy-saving light-bulbs, go a bit more with the bike instead of taking their new climate-friendly Toyota Prius or have one exotic holiday less per year.
Won’t this make a difference and therefore make the concerts a good thing? Well, of course not. This trend of making individual citizens responsible for solving the climate change/energy crisis through greener consumption behaviour is probably one of the biggest menaces to a really effective climate change policy, because it “de-responsabilises” the global political class and keeps them out of the firing line when things ultimately will end in climate catastrophe. Once beyond the “point of no return”, our world leaders will be able to point to their citizens’ failure of changing behaviour and as a result start their “green Leviathan world government” which will abolish most of our democratic freedoms and will re-educate us in the best of authoritarian regimes’ tradition.
Changing our individual behaviour is of course not wrong. I also try to fly less and have my climate-friendly car with which I drive less than 4000 km per year. But, in the end, this might soothe my conscience but will do absolutely nothing to save our planet.
As Alex Steffen of WorldChanging.com wrote in an excellent recent article: “the reality is that the changes we must make are systemic changes. They involve large-scale transformations in the ways we plan our cities, manufacture goods, grow food, transport ourselves, and generate energy. They involve new international regulatory regimes, corporate strategies, industrial standards, tax systems and trading markets. If we want to change the world, we need to forge ourselves into the kinds of citizens who can effectively demand such things.
Dire practicality demands that we reject the privatization of responsibility. None of us can make this great transformation happen alone, and it removes pressure from our leaders to take needed steps when some suggest that the changes that need to be made in the world start with our personal choices. They don’t.”
So, should we ban this kind of big megalomaniac media event? Should we refuse to watch it? Hell no, if you like the music, enjoy. If you watch or do not watch will not make any difference anyway, but while watching please make sure you remember you are NOT saving the world. The only winner from these concerts will be Al Gore, whose reputation as the climate change “hero” will continue to grow. I wonder how many influential business men, pop or film stars will urge him after and during the concert to run for President again. It is a pity he was not elected the last time. We would have known by now what HE would really have done to fight climate change.
So, in the end, who profits from Live Earth? The politicians who lack the leadership, the courage and the vision to redefine and re-distribute our prosperity by accepting the ecological limits of our Spaceship Earth economy.
Good night and good luck!Author : Willy De Backer