Live Earth concert: Was its message heard?

Despite the overtly green theme of Saturday's global event, some concertgoers felt the main point was lost amid the music.

By , Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor

With an estimated broadcast audience of 2 billion from 130 countries, Saturday's Live Earth concerts may have been the largest media event ever. But for former Vice President Al Gore, the driving force behind Live Earth, the concerts are but the springboard for a three-year campaign to convince the world of the urgency of climate change.

"The planet doesn't have a PR agent," Mr. Gore said Saturday. "But now it will, because the Alliance for Climate Protection is going to use the modern techniques of messaging to get the scientific evidence in front of people all over the world."

The organization, whose board of directors is chaired by Gore, says it is undertaking a "mass persuasion exercise" – a sea change in global thinking that Gore says he was unable to effect as vice president.

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"You are Live Earth," Gore told the crowd at New Jersey's Giants Stadium, urging concertgoers to endorse a seven-point pledge that includes a promise to lobby governments and employers to do more to save the planet.

But despite the overtly green theme of the concert, Gore's message of doing one's part in the fight against climate change fell on many deaf ears, at least in Giants Stadium.

"There are people at this event who are not picking up their trash," said Clive Hall, a bartender and deejay from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Cassie Toner, another attendee, was disappointed that there weren't more efforts to inform concertgoers. "I thought that there were going to be more educational and NGO booths set up outside," but instead, she said, companies gave away useless materials, which were strewn around the grounds.

Some of the singers also openly admitted to being relatively uninformed. Akon, a singer who has spent much of the year at the top of the charts, admitted to not knowing what "green" meant until the day of the show, but said that he had decided to perform because he "wanted to be more educated about it."

Others were more in tune, performing songs about environmental activism and taking steps to minimize their personal carbon footprint.

The Police, in an onstage collaboration with singer John Mayer and rapper Kanye West, ended on an optimistic note with their "Message in a Bottle," in which a castaway sends an SOS message in a bottle, with little hope of finding help. He wakes up one morning, however, to find 100 million other bottles with SOS messages washed up on his shore. He realizes that he is "not alone at being alone" – a key concept behind Live Earth, which hoped to unite billions into one environmental force.

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