While throngs of thousands were coming together in a show of unity for Al Gore's Live Earth climate-awareness event on Saturday (July 7), reactions outside the concerts was decidedly mixed. Responding via MTV News' "You Tell Us" comments section and our new You R Here blog, some lauded the nobility of the cause, others offered constructive criticism — and more vehement readers accused organizers and artists of outright hypocrisy.
"I do think that this concert is going to help," New Yorker Bianca said positively from the show at New Jersey's Giants Stadium (see "Kanye West, Fall Out Boy, Alicia Keys Are Out Of This World At Live Earth"). "I think that, at the end of the day, everyone's going to wonder what this concert was going to be about, and ... people are going to really be aware of global warming and the whole nine. ... I think it's going to work."
Another concertgoer at the Giants Stadium gig seconded some of Bianca's thoughts but was a bit more reserved with his expectations. "I would hope the whole concert is helping with the global-warming issue," said Frank from Netcong, New Jersey. "If it can do good in the end ... I'm all for it."
Thrupthi, another New Yorker who took in the Giants Stadium show, added some perspective to the event. "A lot of people that never think about these things once during their day, even if you can get them to think about conserving the planet once, for one day of the year, I think it goes a long way."
But despite those praises, the reaction outside the concerts was hardly uniform. "I am torn between whether this is hot air or helpful," Stacey from Oxford, Alabama, commented on the You R Here blog. "On one hand, I do see how this could raise awareness to the world, but on the other hand, I see this as being just a great show for people to go to. ... If we were asked to donate the amount of money the ticket cost to helping the environment and to raise awareness, I don't think most people would be selfless enough to do that."
Bernie from Red Bluff, California, also commented skeptically on the You R Here blog, voicing support for the mission but criticizing Live Earth itself. "The concerts need a cause or aim," he wrote. "For instance, a percentage of proceeds going towards better hybrid technology in cars, increased research in reducing hydrocarbons in the air, or many other avenues money can go into to slow down our detrimental effects on this planet. Having a bogus multimillion-dollar worldwide concert to show people something they can find out by stepping outside their doorsteps is a total waste of those resources."
Like Bernie, Brittany also expressed criticism on the You R Here blog. And, as someone who is pursuing a Bachelors of Science degree with a major in Environmental Policy and Planning at Virginia Tech, she had the goods to back it up. "I am 100 percent for making the public aware of the environmental crisis that we are facing, however ... I am asking you to calculate the ecological footprint of running each of these concerts. Look at the resources used; here are just some of the factors that needed to be included for the ecological footprint: fuels used in transportation for everyone who attends the concert both to and from it; pollution caused by all the transportation; energy from hotel rooms that people were staying in; energy to actually run the concert: bathroom/water, electricity for the lighting and sound, trash from concerts that would be either put in a dump or landfill."
Scott added more wood to the fire, stoking criticism on the blog: "Hundreds of musicians hopping planes and flying all over the world," he wrote. "Thousands of people all over the world catching planes and driving thousands and thousands of cars to these concerts. Lots and lots of electricity being used to put on these shows. Tractor trailers full of supplies being trucked in. Yeah, sounds like they are really making an effort to reduce their 'carbon footprint.' But, we can all take comfort in knowing that Sheryl Crow will only be using one square of toilet paper today."
Meanwhile, Darcy from Justice, Illinois, shot back in You Tell Us: "I wish the people that are complaining about the Live Earth concerts would do something positive instead of complaining. So what, people are flying. If you do two, three or even four positive things for the Earth, don't worry so much about those flights. ... Ihey can't change everything overnight. Gas is a tremendous problem for all of us, but guess what, we need it until something more environmentally friendly is brought to light."
Sammantha, who responded on the You R Here blog, tried to put the argument to rest. "Whether you agree with the cause or the people that arranged Live Earth, one has to recognize that Live Earth is making history," she wrote. "These concerts are the Woodstock or the Monterey of our generation. People all over the world are united under one front to get their message out there and to be heard. That, in itself, is remarkable."
Wish you were there? We have Live Earth covered: Watch the show, see reports from the scene, submit your concert photos and video, make a pledge to stop the climate crisis and more at MTV's Live Earth site.