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Artists weigh in on the environment:
By Andy Argyrakis
Nov. 7, 2007
From 1985's Live Aid for African famine assistance to Live 8's quest for debt relief on the world's poorest countries twenty years later, multi-band bills across multiple continents for a common cause is nothing new. But on July 7, 2007, hundreds of superstar acts from all across the globe embarked upon Live Earth, covering an even more urgent situation that affects everyone, regardless of geographic location, economic level, color or creed. Sure, the environment's been talked about through tons of entertainment entities as of late, including Al Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth" on downward. And naturally there's been a variety of opinions on both sides of the coin as to the severity of the global warming problem, but it's nonetheless an issue of essential importance to address beyond a mere movie talking point or concert buzz word.
"There have been many people who've been working on [studying this problem] for 25 years- some people for longer- but they haven't been able to persuade anyone to listen until now," says KT Tunstall, the modern rock troubadour who's practiced a green lifestyle for as long as she can remember. "You either have to not watch TV or keep your blinds down to not notice and you don't need scientists telling you things like Hurricane Katrina and islands that have disappeared in Indochina aren't normal. It's become a bit like the political climate of the 60s where people always tended to look to music, which continues to be a force people will look to for refuge."
Aside from uniting with the cavalcade of other artists to promote that message at the cross-cultural extravaganza, Tunstall also applies environmental consciousness to her personal habits. Beyond merely entertaining, she's one of the founding figures behind Global Cool (www.global-cool.com), which encourages major political and corporate leaders to combat the climate crisis, while she also simultaneously keeps energy draining activities on tour to a minimum. "On the road you're always moving very quickly, but in bigger cities I've been using hybrid car services to get me from place to place," she explains. "I used to get driven around as one person in massive SUVs, but now I use the [Toyota] Prius whenever possible. And when it's a full tour, my buses run on biodiesel fuel."
The whole biodiesel concept has moved deeper into the mainstream throughout recent years, thanks to fellow artists such as Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews Band, Sheryl Crow and the John Butler Trio (amongst countless others) who've developed eco-friendly transportation methods. And those practices have trickled down to artists of all associations, including punk rock band The Academy Is..., who recently teamed with Fall Out Boy on the road. "Educating people on the issue is the first step to change," affirms singer/activist William Beckett. "There are many great books, documentary films and websites we've linked or suggested that people can learn a great deal about global warming from. The internet, though scary in many ways, allows a great opportunity to learn about anything you want, including how to stop global warming. Sites like www.stopglobalwarming.org host a continually growing movement of more environmentally conscious people from across the world. The internet allows people across the world to come and band together, speak out and organize."
In fact, Live Earth organizers, which included Gore and the newly established Save Our Selves organization (but not Bob Geldof's camp, who criticized the event for lacking a specific goal and sounding too similar in name to his Live Aid and Live 8) turned online to keep the momentum going long after the stage lights faded down and media coverage simmered. "First and foremost, Live 8 has a partnership with MSN, which has 465 million unique visitors every week," offers Los Angeles-based Live Earth spokesman Yusef Robb, citing the portal www.liveearth.msn.com, which continues embracing the message several months following the concert. "Live Earth [was more] of a launch party- of equal if not more importance than the concert itself is our ability to maintain engagement with its audience and continue expanding it in the years forward. It's almost like a branding campaign that first starts out as an introduction and continues as an ongoing process."
And alumni of the actual event are committed to furthering the word given their prominent platforms, including Scottish singer/songwriter Paolo Nutini. "I think it's an artist's responsibility to make the world a better place thru their music," asserts the acoustic/electric tunesmith. "We are fortunate enough to have the attention of so many people, we should take that opportunity as human beings to stand up for issues important to humanity. Music is one of the most powerful forces on the planet and can very often be a great catalyst for change. Concerts like Live Earth will help raise attention to the issue at hand without feeling forced."
As for the day to day changes the average person can make, the list is seemingly endless, according to Tunstall. It can be as simple as not leaving the water on when brushing your teeth to using recycled paper when writing notes. "It's really, really easy and not nearly as difficult as one might think," she confirms. "Five percent of all the globe's emissions come from appliances being on standby, so all you have to do is pull out your plugs when that item isn't in us. If you're not charging your cell phone, unplug your charger! You can also change to energy efficient light bulbs and always keep your freezer packed with food because it's more energy draining to freeze moving air. And if you're going to be gone for a month, pack it with books! In any case, you don't have to do too much [out of the ordinary] and you're still making a difference."