World News

Hi-Tech concerts for Planet Earth and 7-7-7

18 July 2007 at 11:16 | 717 views

By Abayomi Charles Roberts in Edmonton, Canada

Saturday July 7, 2007 had a special meaning - bordering on superstition - to millions of people all over the world. The coded forms of the date are a trio of ’Lucky Number Seven.’ That is 07/07/07 or 7-7-7, etc, presumably spell good fortune - or good luck. To music lovers, especially enthusiasts of live concerts, and also to environmentalists, the day came with a bonus. It was the day LIVE EARTH music concerts were held in eight cities on several continents - Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, South America.

More than 100 music superstars; from Alicia Keys, Phil Collins,...to Duran Duran, Madonna...to Shakira... and Sting. You name them, they were on stage! On at least one of the stages, to be precise. The synchronized gigs took place in Hamburg, Johannesburg, London, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Shanghai, Sydney and Tokyo. Due to the time (zone) differences, the shows easily came to viewers/listeners who were not actually at any of the scenes, as a 24-hour event. The curtain rose at the Aussie Stadium in Sydney, Australia, (in the time zone where the sun - apparently - rises daily) before subsequent chapters kicked off in other time zones, as the rest of the world ’woke up.’

Over Two billion people watched the concerts on TV and the Internet, not to mention many more radio listeners and those who were actually at one or more of the eight jam sessions. More than 10 million watched on-line, via MSN alone. According to the hosts’ website, www.liveearth.org, "It was transmitted live on air from each of the eight cities by INTELSAT (www.intelsat.com), using the latter’s industry-leading network of satellite and terrestrial facilities in standard and high definition, across multiple media channels - TV, radio, Internet and wireless.".

Sceptics had contended that the worldwide extravaganza begs the question of minimizing environmental damage. Their point is that these high-technology concerts were so huge that the hundreds of thousands of people who physically attended, alone, would leave behind equally large amounts of garbage. Maybe the fans did litter a lot. Is that reason not to use such mass-appeal gimmicks? I think not; it is a matter of cost-benefit. Leave as little litter as possible while making the world as safe, healthy and as sustainable as we can ever make it. Nothing positive or progressive will ever be done if these sceptics get their way. I suggest a change of terminology; that we use Environmental Prudence, stressing the judicious use of resources. Simply, we should strive to recycle and/or re-use as much waste as we possibly can. In Sierra Leone, where I was born and raised, we had similar sceptics. We told them that we burn a few chunks of firewood to prepare food; to give tree planters enough energy to plant trees that would serve a whole community for much longer than the hours spent planting the tree seedlings. Kapish? Already we have people doing profitable business in various aspects of ’Waste Management’ in the western world. This I know from personal experience. I worked with the Edmonton Waste Management Company a couple of years go, as a sorter. While there I witnessed how old newsprint (paper) is reclaimed and packaged for export.

Waste is inevitable. The goal should be to minimize such waste while optimising the livelihood of mankind - individually and as communities. In any case the Live Earth organizers were prepared in their bid to spread the word about global climate trends and the needed remedies. First, it was not a one-off jamboree but a futuristic annual project. One of the prime movers, former US vice-president, Al Gore, in saying thanks later said "A decade from now, when people look back on Live Earth, what they will remember isn’t what happened during the show(s) - instead my hope is they remember what happened after..."

According to the LIVE EARTH web site,"With support from the US Green Building Council,...Live Earth will implement new Green Event guidelines. All Live Earth venues will be designed and constructed by a team of sustainability engineers who will address the environmental and energy management challenges of each concert site, as well as the operations of sponsors, partners and other Live Earth affiliates" Each venue will be designed to minimize environmental impact (damage) while showcasing the latest state-of-the-art energy efficiency, on-site power generation, and sustainable facilities and management practices.

I am not sure what the impact of this year’s inaugural ’Concerts for a Climate in Crisis’ will be in terms of promoting awareness about the climate issue - and more important, prudent practices to match. However, from what I saw on-line and on TV; the huge audiences in the various arenas, it was ’Big, Big Time!’ as far as such concerts go. So impressive were the constellations of performers in each metropolis. To me, LIVE EARTH makes a difference. Those who think Al Gore made a mistake by sticking to the ’Earthly’ cause, instead of making a bid for the White House one more time, are the very ones who are mistaken. I bet Al Gore may have just landed one of the biggest - and most LIVELY - jobs on Planet Earth. It is just a matter of time for us to see that he has quite a vision, if not a visionary himself. I only hope he is resolved to follow through.

Kevin Wall founded LIVE EARTH. He was Worldwide Executive Producer of Live 8, a similar project held in various cities globally on July 2, 2005. Those were in aid of programmes to eradicate poverty in Africa. Twenty years earlier, Live Aid was spearheaded by Sir Bob Geldorf. It was also for Africa, specifically for famine victims in Ethiopia. Those concerts were held in just two cities, London and Philadelphia, on Saturday July 13, 1985.

Kevin Wall, this time, teamed up with Al Gore and The Alliance for Climate Protection "to ensure that Live Earth inspires behavioural change long after 7/7/7."

The day was also when The Seven New Wonders of the World were announced, after a worldwide poll (www.new7wonders.com). Many environmentalists consider man-made monuments, artifacts and other remains to be part of the environment. So they too deserve similar treatment in terms of conservation.

Photo: Al Gore and Queen Latifah.

Comments