I’ve had a few issues with uploading some video, but I’ll take care of that when I get back home tonight. Anyway, some updates:
Dave Matthews just took the stage. He’s having a fine time here, and was rather amusing at the mini-press conference earlier (video to come). “We’re aware of a certain amount of hypocrisy” about using fossil fuels when going on tours, he says, but the awareness coming from a concert of this size outweighs it. Like the energy it’s taking to cool the media bubble, which is literally the size of a football field. And it’s hot outside.
Al Gore again! Man, this guy really hogs the spotlight. This time, he’s leading everyone in the stadium in a 7-point pledge.
Well, the battery on the N800 is almost gone, but it lasted a good seven hours. More to come later…
Meet the Press
Throughout the day, a number of artists came through the media bubble for impromptu press conferences. Everyone from Randy Jackson, who peppered his answers with more “dawgs” than a pound, to Jane Goodall, who came from delighting the estimated crowd of 52,000 with a chimpanzee greeting, talked to the press for a few minutes about the importance of conservation. Some were more eloquent than others. That goes for the press, too. As promised, video!
Dave Matthews started off a bit slow and went on a bit of a scatological riff, talking about used baby diapers and bovine flatulence before warming up. In what will be the biggest issue stemming from Live Earth in the weeks to come, he said that while it’s great to have a lot of people come together to support a cause, “we’re essentially powerless if our governments just ignore us, and in a democracy, you would hope that they pay heed.”
But what incentive to they have to listen if there’s no efforts at organization beyond the concert? That’s what many have been talking about, even before the whole event started. Just how effective will this concert be in changing people’s attitudes, if not to press politicians, then to make even minor changes themselves? Ann Curry, who interviewed a bunch of high-wattage personalities on an NBC special, said in a press conference that Mayor Michael Bloomberg noted that if everyone in New York City replaced one lightbulb with a compact florescent bulb, there’d be enough power for two Empire State Buildings. But when you can’t get people to unplug their cell phone chargers when not in use (another recurring example of energy waste cited during the concert), how many are going to switch a bulb? As an aside, the guy that figures out how to get the chargers to automatically stop drawing power after a cell phone gets unplugged is gonna make a million bucks.
John Mayer took exception to the doubters in the room, and, in a slightly more aggressive tact than is custom for gatherings of these sort, challenged one questioner to a debate–which was kind of unreasonable considering the press conference only lasted five minutes. He did get off a good quip at one point. Asked about Jessica Simpson, he declined to answer, saying, “I’m going to practice some conversation conservation.”
Jane Goodall made some of the most cogent points of all those assembled, linking economics to conservation, and in between, educating others on the biological differences between chimps, apes, and gorillas. In the areas surrounding the Gombe Reserve in Kenya where she studies chimps, she said the humans have more pressing needs than saving primates (save themselves), and their own condition will always take precedence, even if that means cutting down swaths of trees in order for them to feed their families. And that’s ultimately what conservation will come down to. Not only will it have to be convenient for people, a la CFLs that work just as well as traditional bulbs, but it will have to make economic sense, too. We are seeing lots of investment by venture capital and others in cleantech from ethanol to solar, but, to mash a few catch phrases here, the real tipping point will be when it reaches the bottom half of the pyramid.
The scene from inside the stadium. We’re also told that the Internet feeds are drawing 10 million people, which, according to them, is the most of any online concert ever. This is a big coup not only for Live Earth, but also for Control Room, which managed to pull this off without any major hiccups. Will this also cause a surge in the number of people who watch concerts over the Internet? Control Room already puts on about 40 shows a year, but this concert, more so than Live 8 two years ago, may have really proven the technology to a wider audience, who might pay for such things in the future.
In order to cut down the time between sets (and keep the TV program moving), a huge rotating stage was set up in each of the locations. Here you can see it mid-revolution–all those circles are recycled tires. Were they recycled for this purpose? Above and on each side, concert-goers were treated to performances from other venues around the Earth, interspersed with artsy, sometimes humorous public service announcements. After 8 hours, though, no one seems to be paying much attention. As Mayer said, the music’s always going to win out.
After The Police finish their set and the concert with “Message in a Bottle,” (and with many people throughout the stadium holding up empty water bottles–you decide if it’s ironic or not), Al and Tipper take the stage for one last time to wish everyone a good night. My video looks like something Monet would have taped, but the sound comes through well.
The scene leaving the concert. Most people seemed to have come by mass transportation, but apparently someone didn’t get the memo.