i don’t know what to make of al gore. i mean, i know he means well, even if he doesn’t always walk his own talk. and with the live earth concerts taking place today, i know it’s supposed to be a good thing, raising awareness to the things we all can do to help slow down or even reverse climate change. however, i think today’s concerts are really little more than corporate musicians thinking they are doing something good and therefore feeling good about themselves. it also seems to me that the costs and logistics of putting on these concerts negate any benefit that may have been derived. i had a friend joke that maybe the shows should have been ‘unplugged’, which very well may be true, but still, getting performers and their crews to various points on the planet had to have some negative effect on the very ice caps we are trying to prevent from melting.
i am all for being environmentally responsible. i use the funky looking compact fluorescent bulbs, i am an ardent user of public transportation, i’m a vegetarian, and in general, i just try to be environmentally aware of my actions in day to day living. hopefully the concerts today will help people become more aware of the necessity of, and the fairly easy options involved in doing their small part to slow down climate change. but, as i watched these shows, it was painfully obvious that most of the people attending were overwhelmingly caucasian, even at the johannesburg concert. the fact is people who were able to attend or watch these shows are affluent (even the poorest americans watching the shows on tv are affluent in comparison to many people on the planet) and therefore have the option as to whether or not they will prioritize living in an environmentally friendly way (although it may not always be just an option). however, if every single person who watched/attended the concerts did something positive in their own lives to help alleviate global warming, while it certainly would make a difference, it wouldn’t end the problem. while the west has contributed more than its fair share to the global warming problem, the fact is that third world countries also contribute a great deal. however, most of the people living in these countries simply don’t care about the problem; their main concern understandably is with day to day survival. they don’t see as we do how their actions affect the planet; they only care about feeding themselves and meeting other more immediate needs. i believe that one way we can help to combat global warming is through helping people in these underdeveloped countries learn how to better meet their own needs in an environmentally conscious way. once their immediate needs are met, then perhaps they can turn their focus to joining the rest of us in helping to avert climate change. but it’s unrealistic to expect that the problem will be solved by a few relatively rich folks buying compact fluorescent bulbs and recycling. it’s a great start, but i think that the only way the planet can realistically be saved is with the entire planet participating, and the only way that will happen is for the basic needs of the entire planet being met.
excellent book to read: world changing: a user’s guide for the 21st century. at 600 pages, you’re not gonna sit down and polish it off in one evening, but it’s a great book for getting ideas on things we can do locally and beyond to help deal with global warming. another book to look at, a much smaller book, is the rough guide to ethical living by duncan clark.