was a series of concerts that took place yesterday in nine cities worldwide that has proven to be the most controversial
of its (multi-city, multi-celebrity) type. The discussion that has developed in the news item
about it and in this thread
seem to point out that environmentalists often find themselves in a catch-22. They are either accused of being Luddites that despise progress and want you to use one AND ONLY ONE
square of toilet paper, or taken to task for putting on events that have no larger impact than night matches of your favorite sport teams. In short, we are more willing to scrutinize the greenies trying to put on a global event while we applaud the baseball team for going carbon neutral FOR ONE GAME
There is also the hubris issue, "how dare they say something about the way we live? look at them how they travel, etc...
It seems like the only options for people of notoriety is to keep quietly going about their business or becoming Luddites (and then we will resent them for that too). The fact is that we can only expect people with the amount of money and stature that Al Gore and some of the celebrities in 'Live Earth' to have a bigger carbon-foot print than us, but we have bigger foot prints than the subsistence farmers in Latin America, Africa, Asia, etc... I prefer for people at all levels of society to start doing something (at a level they are prepared to) than for no one to do anything.
In all reality all of us that speak about environmental issues at any social level and stage of life (specially those of us in 'industrialized societies') are hypocrites. The simple fact that I wake up in the U.S., turn on my Mac, and check this website to discuss environmental issues makes me a HUGE hypocrite, I am quite aware of this. And the design of the built environment IS one of the most unsustainable human endeavors that we, as a society, take on. BUT, if concerned people do not engage society using the media and methods of the day (even silly forum websites and multi-city concerts with has-beens), won't the problem just get bigger? What if we do not engage the built environment? If nothing else, I think that the concerts are making us talk about green issues and the methods used for those issues to come out. I hope that we take the same criticism and now start looking closer at all our other major (and not so major) media events. How much carbon does the Super Bowl and the NFL in general use? The World Cup? what about Dancing with the Stars? I wonder how many CO2 emissions were released to make and show Die Hard and Ratatouille?
However, and I think that this is what the discussion in archinect is really about, this concert did not really look for a new way of doing things. They thought that holding the same type of events we have seen since the 80's and simply offsetting their carbon emissions was enough. We expect more from environmentalists, as we are by now accustomed to look that way for innovation and out-of-the-box thinking. What we seem to be arguing is that with today's media all we needed is ONE concert at most. Or maybe no concert at all and a you tube account instead, but then we have to wonder how much CO2 google releases running their warehouses full of servers. 'Live Earth' was a clumsy step, but a step nonetheless towards a larger awareness of green issues. I hope the next event breaks the tired-some mold.
I leave you with Susan Szenazy's passionate call to (metaphorically green) arms in the digital age.:http://www.metropolismag.com/cda/story.php?artid=2862
Quote from editorial "Calling all Designers"
by Susan Szenazy, June 2007:"In the Internet age, the 2010 Imperative, Webcast in February, was the first global emergency teach-in; it sought to bring design education into the green movement. This event attracted a quarter of a million designers, students, educators, and their allies from 48 countries. Thousands of visitors continue to share their thoughts on the subject on the movement’s Web site. All this was organized in the office of one passionately committed architect, Ed Mazria, by a few dedicated people with laptops."