Harvard University - GSD (Quilian)



Sep '06 - Dec '09

  • anchor

    Catch 22

    Quilian Riano
    Jul 8, '07 9:59 AM EST
    "Live Earth" 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.:

    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."



    • Chch

      good coverage, q - but with all this focus on carbon footprints and the like surely we should pay more attention to reason for the overall rise in carbon use - population increase.

      No matter how well we adjust our consumption of natural resources and emission of carbon, as long as population continues to boom, more consumption will result. Even if we were to achieve carbon neutrality for the majority of individuals, more people will result in more homes being needed and demand for resources becoming larger across the board.

      I think it's a very critical, if sensitive, area that needs more discussion. Most people consider it their right to have 2, 3, 4 children, but very rarely do people consider the carbon footprint of introducing another person into the world.

      Jul 8, 07 12:43 pm  · 

      I completely agree.. so they may be somewhat hypocritical in their approach to a concert, but really.. how much effect would there be with no concert? they are indirectly affecting so much, through the people who attend the concert, get aid from the proceeds, or just hear of it from a news source or some archinect blog.

      at least they are doing SOMETHING, other than progress-less criticizing.

      Jul 8, 07 1:27 pm  · 

      alright, if more atrocities of combinations like this happened, i may have to change my opinion..

      Jul 9, 07 7:35 pm  · 

      wow, that hurts to listen to...

      Jul 9, 07 7:54 pm  · 

      Kanye should stick to beats!

      Jul 9, 07 7:55 pm  · 

      Wherever you go, there you are.

      Jul 10, 07 10:38 am  · 

      i agree to a point, because the question i ask is this, does Bono need to be poor to want to do something about third world debt? of course not, but he is doing more than just playing concerts to get his point across.

      at the same time though, i'd like to see these celeb's pay more than lip service, especially when albums get sold, t-shirts get bought, and people pay a$$loads of moulah to see some aging rock stars clinging to what is left of their pathetic, and over careers.

      i didn't see Ed Begley Jr. on the broadcast, and that guy practices what he preaches.

      Jul 10, 07 11:52 pm  · 

      Block this user

      Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?


      This is your first comment on Archinect. Your comment will be visible once approved.

    • Back to Entry List...
  • ×Search in:

Affiliated with:

Authored by:

Other blogs affiliated with Harvard University:

Recent Entries