Change Alley

information, opinion, conversation

The Hijacking of Live Earth

with 15 comments


There’s been a lot of disagreement about the Live Earth project, its motivation and usefulness. There’s always room for a bit more.

Off-Grid journalist Brendan Montague tells the tale of how British environmentalists who first conceived the idea of a climate change concert were forced into the margins and their attempts to reduce carbon emissions replaced with a series of hopeless gimmicks.
They claim Live Earth became a huge PR-driven machine with multi-national companies who have disputable green credentials – like Smart cars, Pepsi and Philips – jumping on the green bandwagon. With Al Gore, eager to maintain the momentum of his ‘Inconvenient Truth’ vehicle, also clambering on board, the project became “a monster with the organizers handing over £1million just to off-set the carbon being generated by 100 acts flying to seven cities”.

“The Twisted Path To Live Earth”


Written by Pete Smith

July 8, 2007 at 1:06 pm

15 Responses

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  1. so, exactly like live8 then!

    Dave On Fire

    July 8, 2007 at 2:15 pm

  2. [So those guys in Bristol stole The Coffee House’s blueprint of organising a few hippies to play the flute while rolling around in the mud. It’s a cruel world. Me thinks I’m going to have a chat with Big Al and send my wife over there to sort him out. 🙂 ]

    Scary stuff. From idealists to fundamentalists to being hijacked by a corrupt political system that freely mixes business with politics. I was reading in the IHT recently that every single presidential candidate in the US has venture capital/private equity money backing them! A poor little boy from Bristol can’t compete with that!


    July 9, 2007 at 6:59 am

  3. “every single presidential candidate in the US has venture capital/private equity money backing them”

    Yes, bring back the good old days when it was just Republican oil against Hollywood Democrats. Life was so much simpler then.

    “to play the flute while rolling around in the mud”

    Don’t try this at home kids.

    Pete Smith

    July 9, 2007 at 7:54 am

  4. Doesn’t everyone roll about in the mud for fun? Whoops! :blush:

    Of course, where there is a situation to be exploited, the exploiters will find it – and exploit it.

    This is an interesting article that I just came across . . . .

    It claims that Live Earth was doomed to fail. And it also states, the concerts totally failed to get the message accross that it is the economic and foreign policies of Western governments and their love affair with oil and big business (particularly the Bush administration), that is causing and accelerating climate change.

    Also makes a very valid point about the failure to really engage the Middle East in this campaign-concert.


    July 10, 2007 at 4:36 pm

  5. I’m not sure about the word “fail”; it implies that they were actually trying. I admit, I haven’t looked at LiveEarth anywhere near as closely as Live8, as the latter soured me on massive third-sector-corporate issue-marketing like this completely.

    Oh, Bono and Geldof earned their “Knight Commander Of The Empire”-hoods alright. As with climate change, so with poverty – once people start to learn about it, they are likely to come to the reasonable conclusion of opposing imperial corporatocracy and, as with this year’s summit, not ask the G8 to help so much as to get out of the way. Live8/MPH was to ensure that millions of would-be rebels only engaged on the issues on G8’s terms.

    And why were those G8’s terms? Debt was the most effective tool of imperial control in the 1980s, but by the 2000s the writing was on the wall. Venezuela and now Bolivia have paid their debts off, Argentina and Russia defaulted: these countries posed the threat of a good example, and could have started a mass movement of countries using the threat of collective default to negotiate a new settlement on their own terms. The HIPC debt relief programme preempted such a movement, lessening the amount of debt in the countries where it was most extreme – and therefore most begging to be defaulted upon – (though this side of the bargain was only partially-kept), and in return, those countries would implement the same kind of ‘structural adjustments’ to their economies that were the intended outcome of the debt.

    I didn’t appreciate all this at the time, but the clues were there: Africa was consistently the focus of the campaign, yet not a single African leader or spokesperson played a prominent role. And a movement based entirely in the rich countries doesn’t do such a great job of promoting the needs of poor countries. Many African NGOs now consequently promote the motto “Nothing about us, without us“.

    I don’t think any particular package of policies is being bundled along with Live Earth – if it is, it’s no doubt one that benefits its sponsors more than the real victims of climate change – but we can already see it as an attempt to co-opt the Green Movement – which could potentially be virulently anti-corporate – into a harmless advertising campaign.

    On the other hand, can anything involving Spinal Tap really be wrong? 😉

    Dave On Fire

    July 10, 2007 at 4:56 pm

  6. Doomed to fail indeedy earthpal and fail it did.

    And Dave shows exactly why, because it all rang so hollow as an attempt to co-opt the anti-corporate, pro-environment ‘rebels’ into the slip stream of mediocre, armchair, pop concert protest.

    Hey, why not spend your money to protest by buying concert tickets and soaking up sponsor’s advertising. It’s all very ‘Brazil’ (ie. the film). Desensitizing the masses.


    July 10, 2007 at 5:44 pm

  7. Hi all,

    Live Earth didn’t fail! It put several million dollars in Al Gore’s pockets. Wasn’t that the point?

    the Grit

    the Grit

    July 10, 2007 at 11:11 pm

  8. Hi Grit,

    If you’ve got concrete evidence that Al Gore benefited personally from Live Earth, I’m sure we’d all like to hear it. If not, I’ll move our legal department to Defcon 3.


    Pete Smith

    July 11, 2007 at 10:27 am

  9. Hi Pete,

    I thought I answered this one, but perhaps I forgot to click on submit.

    Here’s a source for you,

    And a quote from the article:

    “Live Earth will send proceeds to the Alliance for Climate Protection, a nonprofit organization chaired by Gore (tickets for the U.S. concert range from $83-$348).”

    It must be nice to have a legal department.

    the Grit

    the Grit

    July 11, 2007 at 7:17 pm

  10. Hi Grit,

    Perhaps you did, and I forgot to click ‘read’ 🙂
    It’s a bit of a leap though isn’t it? I mean, if you were to make a donation to Oxfam, you wouldn’t expect it to go straight into the purse of Janet McKinley, the Chair of Oxfam America. Or would you?

    The legal department consists of me and a well-thumbed copy of ‘Libel Law For Dummies’.


    Pete Smith

    July 11, 2007 at 7:30 pm

  11. Nevertheless, Pete, big charites like Oxfam don’t exactly run on a shoestring. A lot of people have comfy salaries paid by Oxfam, and these people have an entrenched interest in eternalising and broadening the organisation’s mission. Sadly, the big charities are pretty much the only way of getting money to where it’s needed, but this takes the decision making away from where it’s needed.
    As for the appallingly anti-freedom-of-speech uk libel laws:

    Dave On Fire

    July 11, 2007 at 8:25 pm

  12. Those two ‘heroes’ that took on MacDonalds come from my neighbourhood and one of them is now active locally taking on the council over various matters to do with the running of our borough’s parks.

    He’s very persistent and quite organised in his campaign, encouraging and bringing together Residents Associations from across the borough. I think the council fear, loath and respect him all at once!


    July 11, 2007 at 9:48 pm

  13. Dave, I take your point, but I still maintain it’s important to choose one’s words carefully to distinguish between a paid salary and misappropriation of funds.

    Pete Smith

    July 11, 2007 at 10:22 pm

  14. fair enough, i may have been being a bit facetious

    Dave On Fire

    July 11, 2007 at 10:30 pm

  15. On fire again Dave? 😉


    July 12, 2007 at 6:48 am

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