The goal of Al Gore’s continent-spanning Live Earth concerts on July 7 — which feature an all-star lineup including Madonna, James Blunt, and Beastie Boys — is to raise awareness about global warming. But as the event nears, organizers are pouring their energy into making sure the fans (approximately 2 billion are slated to attend), musicians, and entourages descending on the worldwide venues won’t turn Live Earth into a man-made environmental disaster.
”We’ve looked at everything from where their energy originates to the cups and the utensils they use,” says Live Earth’s founder, Kevin Wall. Each show is expected to consume an average of 20 megawatt-hours of energy, so Live Earth has some crunchy solutions: All tickets are printed on recycled paper, nearby wind and solar power sources will fuel sets by Bon Jovi (New Jersey) and Rihanna (Tokyo), and on-site generators that run on clean fuel will be placed in Rio de Janeiro for singers like Lenny Kravitz and Macy Gray.
Other artists will also fly long distances to perform (Shakira and Snoop Dogg, for example, will jet to Germany), so Live Earth is paying for carbon offsets (e.g., planting trees) to remove an equivalent amount of harmful gases from the atmosphere. The event’s environmental director, John Rego, notes that more than half of an average concert’s greenhouse emissions result from the audience’s transportation — so he’s encouraging fans to use mass transit or to carpool. And Blunt, who’ll play in London alongside Duran Duran and Foo Fighters, says it’s what fans do after the event that really counts: ”If we all agree to switch off our air-conditioning and open a window instead, [then] Live Earth will have offset itself hundreds of thousands of times.”