The supposedly wooden Al Gore, former US vice president and presently a high profile environmentalist, will be coming alive, almost literally, across the world Saturday next.
He is behind the Live Earth program - a series of concerts of pop and rock music featuring various artists planned to take place on Saturday July 7, 2007 to promote action to confront the global warming crisis.
AdvertisementThe concerts have the intent of bringing together 150 of the world's most popular music acts and drawing a worldwide audience of 2 billion people, making it one of the largest global events in history. The umbrella organization for the event is a new global movement under the name Save Our Selves (SOS).
It will begin at 1.10am British Summer Time in Sydney, Australia, then roll around the globe with concerts in Tokyo, Johannesburg, Shanghai, Hamburg, London's Wembley stadium, New York and finally, at 8pm, Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach. A special performance at the British Antarctic Survey Station in Antarctica will ensure all seven continents are included. There will be saturation coverage from TV, radio, the internet and at more than 6,000 parties in 119 countries.
Gore will use it to urge people to sign a seven-point pledge calling on governments to agree, within two years, an international treaty that cuts global warming pollution by 90 per cent in developed countries and by more than half worldwide. It also asks people to cut their own pollution, make their homes, businesses, schools and transport more energy efficient, and plant new trees and preserve forests.
The organizers are happy that China too has been roped in, despite its known reservation on the global warming issue.
Kevin Wall, the executive producer of Live Earth, said, "We're on Chinese TV with 800 million people, ' he told The Observer. 'People often think on a parochial basis, so it's vital to be there. We've got to talk and make the whole world listen."
Live Earth China, on the steps of the Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai, will feature popular national singers as well as Britain's Sarah Brightman, and be broadcast across the country by the Shanghai Media Group.
Steve Howard, chief executive of The Climate Group, a London-based campaign organisation supporting Live Earth, said: 'The US and China are responsible for half the world's carbon emissions. Live Earth will get huge attention in both. The biggest issue on the planet ever requires the biggest media event ever.'
The seed was planted less than two years ago at the Beverly Hills Hotel in California, when Wall, a veteran concert producer, attended a slide show about global warming presented by Gore, as featured in the Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth.
'Over the course of the 90 minutes my wife and I were very emotionally moved by the climate crisis,' said Wall, 54, a father of three. 'We understood for the first time it was about us, our children and our children's children. This is not just a movie - it's happening.'
On Saturday Gore will be at the Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, near New York City, where the Police, Smashing Pumpkins, Alicia Keys and others will perform. 'We don't want him getting on planes burning carbon,' Wall acknowledged. Profits from Live Earth will go to Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection.
But sceptics have also pointed to the amount of electricity used to power the speakers and lights, and the fuel spent on ferrying musicians and their equipment to the venues by plane and lorry.
Wall said: 'We are trying to minimise the carbon as much as possible. Most artists are coming from nearby areas. Madonna, for example, lives in London and will be performing at Wembley.'
He added: 'There are 3,000 concerts a year. We're doing 10, but touching 2 billion people about what I think is the biggest issue that's ever faced humanity.'
Steve Howard of the environmental charity Climate Group said: 'Dealing with climate change doesn't mean we have got to stop live performances or call for a moratorium on football matches. There are positive choices for people to make. If we get this right, in 10 to 15 years time every product will be a green product.
'Live Earth is a big step in the right direction.' Howard added. 'Arnold Schwarzenegger put it well when he said in Washington DC: "We need to make the environment cool and sexy."'
Organisers deny that Live Earth will be a one-off that could be soon forgotten. They have produced more than 60 short films, 30 public service announcements featuring stars such as Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz, and a book, The Live Earth Global Warming Survival Handbook by David de Rothschild, that will be published in Britain this week.