08 July 2007

Live Earth Complainers

Well, I hate to be a bore, but this is MY blog and I get to say my bit! I have heard from quite a few people recently that Live Earth is just a way for a whole bunch of celebrities in their private jets to feel good about themselves and organise a wasteful environmentally unfriendly waste-of-time festival. And I'm getting more annoyed about it the more people say it.

There seem to be a number of misconceptions about the festival. For a start, those who watched will have noticed that many of the artists who performed weren't in their home countries. That's because they were asked to play at the concert they were closest to. So most won't have had to fly more than an hour or so and many won't have flown at all. The website for the event had a great deal of information on it for how to get to the venues by public transport to help the audience avoid using cars and planes. And besides, if it wasn't this gig, the venues involved would all have had some other major concert going on anyway. Do you seriously reckon if these gigs didn't happen they would have closed Wembley for the weekend and planted trees over it instead? I don't think so.

It has been shown that these sort of events can raise awareness, to the extent that much needed change actually happens. After all it was just after Live 8 that a great deal of debt was cancelled for the poorest countries in the world, giving them a chance to start again and improve their lot. On that occasion about all people were being asked to do was write a quick letter to dear ol Tony. Unfortunately this time they're being asked to actually think about their own lives, find those areas where they are being wasteful and trying to tighten the belts a little. I don't think you'll ever hear Al Gore suggesting we all have to live by candlelight and ban all vehicles. We only have to make small changes, but we have to all do it. But of course until we're actually screwed and we have to squeeze into the last little band of the earth that's still hospitable, everyone prefers the ostrich position. Nice and easy huh? And if, as seems to be popular, the media tells us that actually it's all just a hoax (which they say is in the interest of giving both sides of the story) using misrepresented data and outright lies (don't get me started on The Great Global Warming Swindle!) only panders to our desire to ignore the possibility that we are shooting ourselves in the foot unnecessarily.

Now I don't want to debate whether climate change is really going to happen and/or happening. Cos I just don't know. Of course the number of scientists whose data and models all agree on climate change (and have done for 20 or 30 years) provides compelling evidence, but the major problem with this issue is that we just won't know for SURE until it's too late. I really don't understand what is wrong with using precautionary tactics. Some people compare the precautionary policy to the absurd concept of "pre-emptive war", but this is a bad and dangerous analogy, since war necessarily involves violence, death and environmental damage. The only thing needed to solve this potential problem is to tame our rampant desire to consume. As such, a 'pre-emptive war' on climate change is a much more wholesome beast. People claim that there's no point in each of us making an effort as long as china is still growing and polluting, but they forget that the main market for what China produce is US - half the time buying pieces of tat that we don't even need. And making these small changes will have other benefits - if you cycle to and from work each day you'll feel healthier and happier (as I now do since I made the change) and that way you won't have to pay to drive to the gym, then pay when you get there to run on an electronic treadmill. So saving the planet saves you money too! (not to mention your cheaper electricity bill)

One small point on the lack of consensus on if climate change is really happening, though: go turn your engine on, and sit down next to the exhaust pipe for a few minutes. What do you think? Does that smell like good, wholesome, natural goodness? Even if you don't believe in climate change, surely you'd have to agree that that air isn't good air. Not the life-giving, healthy stuff we like to breath, huh? So really, would it be that bad to minimise it - even if there is no such thing as climate change?

At the moment most of the debate for stopping climate change revolves around 'how can we produce electricity with less CO2 emissions?'. This sort of question is clearly very important (and as usual ol Georgie has set his heart on arguably the worst of all the options). But first and foremost, the easiest thing to do is just use less.

To return to Live 8 it is important to remember that poverty and climate change are linked. Our reliance on oil fans the flames of most major problems facing our society. Many wars (both outright and subversive) have been fought over 'strategic resource management' and many of these wars promote extreme counterreactions like terrorism. Usually the discovery of oil in a third world country does not cause the growth and development of that country; it throws them into turmoil. And realistically if climate change turns out to be true it will be the poorest countries that will be least able to adapt and will suffer the most.

I was, therefore, horrified to hear that Bob Geldof is one of the chief amongst the Live Earth complainers. Get this quote from our great saviour, Mr Geldof: "I would only organize Live Earth if I could go on stage and announce concrete environmental measures from the American presidential candidates, Congress or major corporations. They haven't got those guarantees, so it's just an enormous pop concert. ... I hope they're a success. But why is Gore actually organizing them? To make us aware of the greenhouse effect? Everybody's known about that problem for years. We are all [expletive] conscious of global warming."

Riiiiiiiiiight. I don't remember the bit of Live Aid when Bob got on stage and announced 'it's ok everyone; George, Tony and the boys have agreed to give all those poor people a few quid, so you can all go home now'. As I recall it was 'just an enormous pop concert'...which managed to generate awareness and force change. And dude, seriously, YOU organised the one twenty years before...we are all [expletive] conscious of poor African children. I'd say Bono was pretty conspicuous in his absence at Live Earth too. Seems like sour grapes to me - throwing their toys cos someone else found a cause too.

So anyway. I should close this rant and congratulate those of you who reached the end of such an ill-constructed and train-of-thought hodgepodge of ideas. All those of you who did will receive a free chocolate fish (those in the UK can have a rolo instead) for making it. Claim your prize next time you see me! Feel free to write abusive comments if you think I'm talking rubbish and if you can convince me, you'll get a bonus chocolate fish!

PS I must say, some of Live Earth did get on my nerves and some of those videos were particularly over the top. It also seemed like it was mix and matching different issues rather than concentrating on the main one. Plus I'm not convinced that changing lightbulbs alone is the answer (which is the impression the sum of those videos gave me), personally I'd suggest the humvees and Ford 25o's might have a little bit to do with it too. Although that video with Prunella Scales was genius! Anyone who can tell me who the guy in it was also gets a bonus chocolate fish!


Anonymous said...

I totally agree. It is one thing for Joe Public to say that they don't think these concerts are going to do any good (see the NZ Herald poll where something like 85% think it'll do no good), but I really don't understand why Bob had to even open his fat gob.

It's not like people switching to CFLs or biking to work is going to prevent those same people from contributing to his pet causes. If anything, I expect that as people become more environmentally aware they are likely to become more aware of other issues such as extreme poverty (and, for example, how that links in with population growth).

People like Bob Geldof who have a voice should be careful to use it constructively, and perhaps reserve comment for topics on which they actually know something. As it is, Bob just comes across looking petty and jealous (perhaps he's green about not having any bands in Antarctica for Live8).

Not a way to win respect.

Anonymous said...

PS: maybe Bob was just whacked on drugs at the time?

Ruth said...

Here here Annabel. People need to think about their own personal adjustments to reduce their impact on the environment. And Bob should know that if he hasn't got anything good to say he should be quiet.

Love ya :)

E said...

Absolutely agreed! It takes media and glitter to get people to think these days and most people actually do want to make the world a better place... if you make it easy for them to do so. And that's the trick... if the lightbulbs are taking off it's because it's an easy change. As for carpooling, biking and public transport, if you make it easy, fast and cheap people will do it. Build all new houses energy efficient (especially in NZ) and make help available to improve old housing. And for consuming less: pour less money in advertising and more in the quality and durability of the products. The problem with making it easy for the people to change is that it relies on government and industry to become ethical...

Anonymous said...

Yup, thats my girl! However do try to look on the positive side of the global warming swindle. There is absolutely no doubt that global warming exists. What is contentious is what is causing it.

Undoubtedly that programme used flawed and distorted data. The positive was that it highlighted the global warming industry that has sprung up around the CO2 issue. I am not saying that they are wrong, just that they started the argument with an assumption and worked backwards. When you do that you can miss the point and expend all your energy and effort on a wild goose chase. Who is to say that it is not some other aspect of mankind's activities that is not the real and unseen root cause. The earth is not flat!

The scientific community needs to get this back from the media. You may remember the episode of Star Trek where there was an unseen alien force that lives on the fear in others. It makes people think and act irrationally. Well the alien is the worldwide media. The more catastrophic the effects we are facing, the better they like it and the more papers they sell!

The worst thing is they are not hindered by having their points examined with scientific rigour. As long as they can broadly align their claims with what has been accepted before they get away with it. More copies sold, kerching!

There are compelling reasons to conserve the world's resources and use them wisely, which are not driven by fear of climate catastrophe. Just the moral imperative of treating all living things with respect should be a start.

The problem we have with the media driven CO2 climate change industry is that it can be transient. A couple of normal seasons across the globe and they would all latch on to the next big fad, leaving this one for dead. Worse still, things do get worse and we get a media driven fascism, which is prepared to sacrifice the developing world "for the greater good".

As for the Live Earth concerts, if they do get people doing the right things for the wrong reasons, some good will have come of it.

A said...

Nice to have you up and commenting pops! I hate to point out, though, that the scientific community have been carping on about this issue for over 30 years now. You seem to have your chronology wrong. They made observations, THEN theories, then looked for further observations to test those theories. The media caught onto this very late in the day, cos it's not fashionable to suggest we all have to make a few easy sacrifices. THEN everyone said we need more evidence. Now that the evidence is piling in, apparently we have to call into doubt the integrity of the scientists.
So I would have to debate the concept that they started with an assumption and worked backwards. And the world being flat was not science's idea - that was the church - it was science that proved otherwise.

And I'm totally with you on the problems of fear and paranoia being spread through the nation - but unfortunately it's in relation to terrorism and is being used to erode our freedom. Certainly all the "fear" being spread by the media on global warming isn't working, cos noones doing much about it.