EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The stage was set for a global revolution.
Hundreds of musicians, actors and politicians gathered around the world to spread the word to the masses about the impending doom of global warming.
Live Earth, a worldwide concert event, was the first of many planned by the Alliance for Climate Protection, former Vice President Al Gore's newly founded organization. All proceeds from the Live Earth shows will benefit the Alliance and its mission of informing people about what they can do to make a difference against carbon emissions.
The globe-spanning event was a well-intentioned effort, but will it jump-start people into action? Judging from the show in New Jersey — both in terms of its execution and the response from the crowd — one would certainly be justified in being skeptical.
With a single glance over the parking lots of Giants Stadium on Saturday morning, one couldn't help but notice that at least seven out of 10 cars were trucks or SUVs.
People everywhere sported Live Earth visors and T-shirts in support of the cause, and yet by only 1 p.m., obscene amounts of garbage and plastic bottles littered the grounds. One image that was particularly ironic was of a couple sitting in their pickup truck, listening to coverage of the event with the air conditioning blasting (a big no-no for carbon emissions).
While hundreds of volunteers were present, clearing away trash and sorting out recyclables, there was also an overwhelming array of merchandise stands, most of them obscenely overpriced (as they are at many big-name rock concerts).
Long-sleeved T-shirts were $55, while event programs were $20. All of the profits from the sales went to the Alliance for Climate Protection for future efforts, but not one of the sales workers was informed of this.
In fact, it was quite ambiguous throughout the entire show exactly where the profits would go, or for that matter, the overall point of the event.
Gore presented his seven-point pledge to slow the process of global warming (including cutting down on carbon emissions within the home and fighting against the building of new coal-burning factories), but no clear long-term goal was ever presented, other than the very vague mission of saving the world for future generations.
In addition, each of the many musical and performance artists who graced the stage (including Kelly Clarkson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Keith Urban and Roger Waters) offered their own words of wisdom on the subject.
This commentary ranged from being sincere and insightful (Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz likened the effort to working out: a pain at first, but worth it) to rather uninformed (Taking Back Sunday’s lead singer, Adam Lazarra, expressed his hopes that “All of you will leave here tonight with some ... literature,” before launching into the next song.)
However bumbling and unfocused Live Earth’s presentation was, one could say that it was a genuine effort to reach out to people and to inspire the developed world to think twice before buying that SUV or leaving that refrigerator door open.
The real cause for concern was the reception of the concertgoers.
Though the run-of-the-mill cheers and applause were certainly there for comments like “We can change the world,” and the event’s repeated tagline, “Answer the call,” one got the impression that the vast majority was only there for the spectacle.
While the introduction of Dave Matthews Band elicited a deafening roar from the teenagers in the stadium, environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s very poignant and articulate speech lost the crowd’s attention within a matter of minutes.
In all, Gore and the show’s impressive list of artists and activists seem to have given Live Earth their best, in hopes that their actions will inspire people to change their carbon-emitting ways. Did it work? Only time will tell.
As far as the actual concert was concerned, walking past piles of empty cans and caravans of honking trucks, one got the idea that Live Earth might have amounted to exactly what Bob Geldof and The Who singer Roger Daltrey predicted: a huge, offensive rock concert.