Live Earth. An Inconvenient Truth. Both brainchildren of former Vice President Al Gore. Both designed to bring awareness of human caused global warming.
Of course, there has been a bit of blow back.
Critics of the movie point to Mr. Gore's personal energy use. Critics of the concerts point to their energy consumption. Does that matter?
First, a bit of history. An Inconvenient Truth won an Oscar, and the very next day a conservative think tank issued a press release criticising the amount and cost of the Gore family home's energy consumption. The Tennessee Center for Policy Research said that the Gore home uses 20 times more energy than the average household. Cries of hypocrisy were embedded in the release, and spread through the various media outlets. Many rose to the vice president's defense, including Keith Olbermann. Even though I was not moved by Mr. Olbermann excusing the energy use because VP Gore has a really big house, plus a guest house, these defenders bring up some very good points about how the think tank analyzed the raw data. Bottom line, though, Al Gore does use more energy than the majority of Americans.
Live Earth suffered much the same fate as VP Gore's house. It was a well-intentioned effort to spread the global warming message that also generated a lot of criticism. Critics spread the word that all those concerts all over the world would generate a huge negative environmental impact that would obviously be at odds with the concerts' message. This time, however, it wasn't just think tanks on the offensive. PETA sent Mr. Gore a letter criticising the meat items being served at the concerts, citing a UN study which shows that the meat industry causes more global warming than all the cars and trucks in the world combined. PETA maintains that the single biggest cause of global warming is meat, and that is where our efforts should be focused. Interestingly, these warnings were met with indifference, despite the United Nations data. Bottom line, concert organizers made huge efforts to reduce their environmental impact, but there was no way around it.
Does all this matter? Is it hypocritical to use so much energy while advocating reducing the world's energy use? Does the good of spreading the global warming message outweigh the negative? Do the ends justify the means?