Cause concerts won’t solve problems

Editorial

We didn’t catch much of Al Gore’s “Live Earth” extravaganza last weekend. A Gilligan’s Island marathon was running on TV Land and we couldn’t tear ourselves away.

But we weren’t surprised to read that it was a poorly received, and reviewed, dud. Some “cause concerts,” like some causes, are better than others. And while card-carrying greens probably thought the shows rocked, most people don’t want to be lectured to about their wasteful lifestyles by a bunch of rich rock-and-rollers.

Willie Nelson may have a modicum of credibility hosting the “Farm Aid” concerts. But can Madonna really be taken seriously as a spokeswoman for the environmentally responsible lifestyle? And unless all who performed at or attended the nine concerts traveled there on skateboards, or via camel caravan, the emissions generated only pushed us closer to the precipice.

Due either to a lack of organization or a fear of indoctrination, some shows were poorly attended. And a “Live Earth” special broadcast on NBC “failed to generate much enthusiasm,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“The estimated 2.7 million viewers was slightly under the 3 million viewers NBC has averaged on Saturday nights in the summer with repeats and the Stanley Cup hockey playoffs on what is already the least-popular night of television.”

How many of those viewers tuned in strictly for the entertainment value, and ignored the lectures, is impossible to say. About one third as many Brits watched the shows on the BBC than saw the “Concert for Diana” a week earlier.

Never one to stint on the hyperbole, Gore called “Live Earth” the “largest global entertainment event in all of history” (apparently forgetting Elvis’ “Aloha from Hawaii” special in 1973). But The London Daily Mail called that city’s show “a foul-mouthed flop.” The London Daily Telegraph called it “a dismal affair.” The Washington Post called it “clunky.”

It’s easy to poke fun at the hypocrisy — and the British tabloids were merciless. One called Madonna a “climate-change catastrophe,” pointing out that she owns nine homes, a fleet of cars and a private jet. Critics also pointed out that the nine shows generated more than 1,000 tons of garbage and had a “carbon footprint” that would require the planting of a forest to offset.

Performers traveled an estimated 220,000 miles getting to the shows. How many more auto trips and flights were required to get fans to and from the concerts is anyone’s guess. And the organizers believe everything’s right with the world if they drink their Dom Perignon from paper cups.

Gore urged attendees to take the “Live Earth seven-point pledge” — which doesn’t include a promise to stop burning up resources attending cause concerts, or one to stay off the Environmental Alarmism Lecture Circuit, in a loophole seemingly designed for Gore.

“I think I am an environmentalist,” said musician KT Tunstall. “I don’t have a car. I live in a small apartment.” But the true test will be whether Tunstall remains carless, and will keep her small apartment, if she hits it big.

Gore and others make much of the “carbon credits” they purchase to make up for their extravagant, environmentally incorrect lifestyles. But this has been likened to the “indulgences” sinners could buy from the Catholic Church, pre-Reformation, and sounds, according to one critic, “too much like rich men paying others to take their place in the draft during the Civil War.”

But this wasn’t just entertainment; it was an “event” meant to spark a great awakening over the alleged dangers of climate change. Its value in that regard is hard to measure. Bumper-sticker bromides such as “more trees, less Bush” may pass for profundity with college freshman, but whether they significantly alter the nature of the debate, or settle the serious scientific and policy questions that need to be grappled with, is doubtful.

If anything, Al Gore’s “Live Girth” further sensationalized and trivialized the debate.