Gore Pins Hopes on Live Earth Environment Concerts
LONDON -- Environmental campaigner Al Gore hopes the Live Earth concerts on July 7 will do for climate change awareness what Live Aid did for Africa.
The former U.S. Democratic presidential candidate is spearheading efforts to get the world of pop music to back his crusade to avert what he calls a "planetary emergency", and already has Madonna and the Red Hot Chili Peppers on board.
"The Live Earth concerts on July 7 of this year will be the largest musical event in world history and the beginning of the biggest change we've ever had to make," Gore told Reuters in a recent interview to promote the concerts.
"It will be profitable for us. People who make the change to less pollution are going to find that their lives are better, the jobs are better.
"But we have to really make a commitment to this change, and that's what the Live Earth concert is really designed to symbolise and kick off."
The former U.S. vice president said there would be a series of concerts held across the world over a 24 hour period.
Following the model Bob Geldof used for his anti-poverty Live 8 gigs in 2005, Live Earth will be held in Johannesburg, London, New Jersey, Rio de Janeiro, Shanghai, Sydney and Tokyo.
A U.S. venue was only announced on Tuesday after some Republicans in Congress rebuffed Gore's suggestion to stage a gig on U.S. Capitol grounds in Washington.
Organisers say the concerts could be watched and heard by two billion people worldwide, and acts already confirmed for London include James Blunt, Madonna and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
"It will ... mobilise public opinion in ways that we hope will affect public policy and nations from the United States to China and every place in between," said Gore.
CLIMATE CHANGE, CELEBRITY
Gore believes that recruiting world famous performers is an important way of getting the message on climate change out.
He has already caused a stir in Hollywood with "An Inconvenient Truth", the Oscar-winning documentary he inspired with his slideshow, and celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Sheryl Crow are active environmental campaigners.
A handful of complaints about Live Earth have already surfaced on the Internet, with bloggers questioning whether pop stars and their taste for conspicuous consumption are the best advocates for cutting fossil fuel emissions.
Gore himself has come under attack for high energy consumption at his home, although the 59-year-old defended his environmental record.
"It was very misleading," he said of the report from a Tennessee-based think tank.
"My wife and I, first of all, we have combined our home and office so the office activities are included in that.
"But more importantly we pay for green energy from sources like wind power that don't produce CO2 and at present in the United States, at least, that means paying considerably more to bypass the CO2 pollution.
"I'm walking the walk as well as talking the talk, and there will always be those who don't like the message and who want to attack the messenger."
Gore, who was vice president under Bill Clinton for two terms and narrowly lost a controversial presidential election to George W. Bush in 2000, said environmental campaigning had taken the place of politics.
"I don't have any plans to be a candidate again."
When asked if he was enjoying his return to the limelight in a new guise, he replied: "It's hard to enjoy something that is premised on solving this crisis that is very threatening. I think a great deal about my children and grandchildren.
"But alongside that, if you're doing work that feels fulfilling and useful and worthwhile, then there's a certain joy of labour that goes into that."