Britain pulls plug on Al’s big climate change show


Times Online – June 3, 2007

This article concerns the concert to increase awareness of global warming called Live Earth.  The concert series is being planned by former Vice President Al Gore with as many as 12 concerts. The shows have been receiving a fair bit of criticism for their use of energy, which in itself is indicative of the entire movement.

The reality is that we use a lot of energy to do many of the essential things in our modern life and some of the non-essential things in life use even more energy. While most of us would consider life-support machines and other medical devices to be a good use of energy, it gets a little more uncomfortable when we talk about our extras in life. How much does that new computer use in energy and resources (especially when you factor in the energy, water and other resources it takes to build the computer).  How about that plasma TV? How about playing your stereo really loud as you listen to some of the musicians in the Live Earth concerts?

In the Midwest part of the US, where I live, there is a religious group called the Amish.  They believe in a very simple lifestyle devoid of modern energy using conveniences like computers, TV, and cars. Are we prepared to go to this level of civilization in order to reduce our carbon dioxide footprint to pre-industrial levels?  For what it is worth, the Amish are not perfect in this either since they eat a lot of meat which means their methane footprint is probably higher than the average US citizen.

I would be 100% behind this concert if I felt that it did some good.  However, even past promoters of these events are looking at this one with disdain.

IT WAS intended to be the symbolic gesture at a global series of rock concerts next month to alert people to climate change. Al Gore, the former US presidential candidate turned climate doomsayer, had wanted a massive switch-off of lights by television audiences, but the National Grid has vetoed the idea.

The inconvenient truth, it says, is that the power surge when people switched their lights back on could cause disruptions in supply and even endanger hospital patients on life support machines.

Roger Daltrey, of the Who, said another concert would simply waste fuel; Bob Geldof, who helped to organise Live Aid and Live 8, said people were already aware of the greenhouse effect; while Matt Bellamy, front man of the rock band Muse, labelled it “private jets for climate change”.

However, it has had to be shelved after the keepers of Britain’s power supply said no. “We are in favour of sustained energy efficiency as opposed to people just doing it very suddenly as a stunt,” said a spokesman for the National Grid.

Gore has admitted that the concerts will consume a vast amount of electricity. To combat criticism of their own damaging effect on the environment, the organisers will pay at least £1m in carbon credits and supply acts with hybrid cars, partly run on electricity, to ferry stars to venues as well as fuel-efficient Smart cars to run around backstage.

Janet Wood, of Utility Week, the industry’s trade journal: “The organisers of the concerts might decide to buy from green suppliers but they have no way of knowing how the electrons they use are generated.”

You can read the full article here.

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