Talk about Newsnight

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Friday, 6 July, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 6 Jul 07, 05:28 PM

Presented by Emily Maitlis.

Live Earth

liveearth_203.jpg“Would you,” one viewer asked “hold a hog roast to promote vegetarianism?” The analogy takes a moment. But it's there. Just.

Does the staging of an enormous carbon-spewing series of concerts across the globe really raise awareness of green issues? Perhaps, inadvertently, it does. Just as the hog roast - like the proverbial visit to the abattoir - really could convert you to the joys of a meat free life.

Tonight, we'll debate the point of Live Earth. We'll ask whether those involved really should practice what they preach. Or whether it's nice just to have a tree hugging sing-a-long anyway.


Gordon Brown made it clear this morning that he would be holidaying at home. No borrowed rock star villa in Barbados for him. Unfortunately, the man in charge of sanctioning the final touches to the Government of Talents is vacationing as we speak. Peter Gwynn-Jones is the man who can grant titles to the new peers. Without him nothing happens. And the Lords, as they say, are revolting.

Newsnight Review

diehard_203.jpgPresented by Martha Kearney.

Die Hard 4.0; FX's new forensic drama Dexter; photos from Fleet Street, at the National Portrait Gallery; and The Last Confession.

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  • 1.
  • At 06:21 PM on 06 Jul 2007,
  • Sarah wrote:

I find it hard to criticise Live Earth given the week before we had the Diana Concert. We are going to get music extravaganzas whether there are good causes or not. Frankly I think it is more important such events make people think about the greatest threat we face as a planet than a single unfortunate (but very famous) road traffic victim.

The rather overworked analogy of 're-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic' also comes to mind as it's probably too late to raise awareness of global warming. But if we're doomed we might as well go down singing and cheering. Alternatively, as with Olympics and other supercarbonivorous global events, let's compete for which country is to host the next Live Earth Expo based on who spews the most carbon. It's bound to be China - so they could call it Veli Thare (non-pc anagram).

  • 3.
  • At 10:47 PM on 06 Jul 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

Is live earth the new live aid?

  • 4.
  • At 11:08 PM on 06 Jul 2007,
  • Stan Evans wrote:

Your interviewees said that Live Earth was intended to influence the world's electorate so they would put pressure on their governments to act on Global Warming.

One of the worst CO2 offenders is China, which unfortunately does not have an electorate because it is a totalitarian state. The Chinese government is self-elected and is a law to itself. Any Chinese citizen who dared to criticise the government would find himself / herself behind bars, and possibly worse.

Let's hope China's leaders like Rock Music and take more notice of Rock Stars than they do their own people.

Watching two zealots for climate-rescue “talking the talk” with vast sincerity, reminded me of one of my main themes in recent years: “We humans do not mature.”
Eric Berne illuminated the human mental structure as being in three parts Parent, Adult and Child. Holding a carbon-heavy rock-concert to reduce carbon emissions, without embarrassment, can only be done in Parent (zealousness) and Child (self indulgence). Maturity depends on a strong, developed Adult, that knows (and seeks) no hiding place from reality. In truth, all the ills of the world can be attributed to individual (hence organisational and governmental) immaturity. Pop stars, politicians, religious leaders, murderous dictators etc, need the current situation – turkeys do not vote for Christmas. The way forward lies past the turkeys, through the chicks. I offered a suggestion to Rowntree in 1995 for a way forward; they were busy. If interested, it can be found on my website under: “Visionary stuff”.

Yep, it's easy to scoff at Live Earth, the thought of millionaire rock stars flying from one part of the globe to another in the name of environmentalism seems like a pitch for a Chris Morris wind up. However, the one good thing these global concerts do (apart from keeping Pete Doherty off the bill) is raise the widest possible awareness of the issue which is truly transnational. A small request, if McCartney is on the bill, could someone please have a word in his ear to the effect that he should stick to his back catalogue from the 60s & early 70s?

  • 7.
  • At 03:31 AM on 07 Jul 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Having driven a stake through the heart of music about 50 years or so ago, leaving it deader than dead, why should humanity be worthy of survival? Oh you don't think music is dead? The very fact that you'd consider listening to the live earth concert is proof enough that you never knew it while it was still alive. Recordings don't do it justice, at best they are a pale facsimile of the real thing.

Interesting to ponder the relative number of comments for this issue vs., say, JP's tie. Ho hum.

Anyway, I have just watched the piece and see it as a worthy start point to what will doubtless become a fairly healthy debate about what the individual gets exhorted to do, can do, and does. Plus those who would take it upon themselves to 'help'.

This is TV. So you get powerful imagery and snappy sound bites. I was therefore unsurprised to see scenes of heavy industry and belching smokestacks, with the VO saying something like : 'it's about stopping them doing this... '. Ok, fine, but that ore being smelted goes towards a lot of iPods, CDS and custom 737s. I wonder how many will ponder the irony, or consequences of what they campaign against, as they party away. Or care.

But to offset this we get... planting trees. A bit unfair to select just this Joss Stone quote as I am sure there are... were others, and a bit more considered than hers. Sadly, while there are still some viable offsetting options of this nature, in this member of the public's mind the principle of whacking a fir in the firmament to 'deal' with the last gig, without really worrying what happens thereafter, has been rather discredited thanks to some, rather high-profile, 'offsetbacks'.

For what it's worth, if we are going to think forest, I'd advocate considering this from Newsnight's very own archives a few weeks ago:

Though over in a flash, and a perhaps a tad over simplistic, the preamble about the 'Chinese' question was still telling. Seems it's for the US to start, and they'll wait, despite their own strategy predictions. Understandable in most ways, but a bit akin to the scene in Blazing Saddles where the black sheriff holds a gun to his own head, only this time the rest of the world's 'heads' attached in line: 'Cut emissions first, or we ALL get it'. Hmmn. 'Rein in your economy (and hence military spending), to allow us to catch up, and we promise we'll stop making dolls, and tanks, as soon as we have the same number of SUVs and a/cs'. Is that gonna happen?

I also don't recall too much by way of the vox pop responders' thoughts on the concert, as such.

Anyway, interesting to see two such well versed (and one presumes, paid) members of the green elite 'industry' in such polite debate. I'd have preferred a few from more challenging viewpoints across the table, with the interviewer being allowed to be more balanced in her critiques, which of necessity seemed to be too much in that role, with the authority her chairperson position confers.

I have to agree totally with the chap from Global Cool, though: the danger is in this being packaged, and hence viewed, as a one-off event. A bit like Ethical Man, where I was very disappointed to see all the year long 'good' in information and awareness rather undercut by it all... stopping. I felt the message left was unfortunate, with an impression that this is something one dabbles in, does a bit of, and then gets back to the real world of rampant consumerism, travel and anything else money can buy in pursuit of the next 'hit', fad or rating.

As stated, these are now ambassadors of, what? Doing 'what I say but not, necessarily, do?' It was accepted that they ''have" to fly around. So, I guess, does Air 'Well, it's not really practical for ME not to' Blair, plus of course all the carbon traders from the City, and ecojournos on book promos, and... er... who is left?

While not simple at all, we can surely accept that most of the problems from CO2 emissions can be pretty much laid at the door of the affluent consuming like stink. And you don't get much more affluent than rock stars. So it's hard to imagine them having all this wonga and not being a teensie bit tempted to blow it all on a few indulgences. And I reckon when they do, a tabloid will be ready and waiting. And while they may have offset their last hat-collection flight by buying half of Africa a solar cooker to prevent the inefficient burning of wood, Mondeo Man (and maybe even Pious Person in a green broadsheet) will be sitting in his tent in a monsoon in the Mendips, reading his Daily Mirror about Huffy Diddly on the beach in the Caribbean on a jet ski. And that may not play so well to the cause.

If they believe in what they are doing, and that it is their celebrity and not so much the music that really matters, if going to walk around the country with a big banner is not going to happen, I'd like to simply ask...why?

And, to be fair to them, has anyone asked? Seems a heck on an idea. Relevant too. As noted, we get an 'awareness' concert pretty much each week now.

Hence Saint Bob's rather colourful views on the actual need for more 'awareness' beyond boosting CD sales resonates, but for perhaps not the right reasons. We have the message. But what of the messengers? Joss and her popping a sapling in? For one night? It has the same effect on me as newspaper supplements on green travel offsetting that issue to show they are on board, yet still sending a correspondent the next week to cover a fur and Ferrari catwalk show in Antarctica to promote a 'see the polar bears before they're gone' competition. Pop your green token in the slot here.

I will be mostly in the garden today, as it is shaping up as a nice one. But I will be dipping in to the show when I can, if I can. I wish it... them... well, but really hope that the tangibles that are inspired from it are as positive as intended, and go a lot further than all I have heard about, which so far seems to be a pledge. I made one a while ago, and got a low energy bulb, which was nice. And useful.

  • 9.
  • At 06:20 PM on 07 Jul 2007,
  • csharp wrote:

What a tub thumping good ding dong on Newsnight Review. We even had Plato and the Republic mentioned. Five stars.

  • 10.
  • At 03:42 PM on 08 Jul 2007,
  • viking wrote:

The NN website summary to Live Earth piece, was very funny - 'hog roast' indeed.

Working amongst scientists as I do, i was very interested as to their professional view of the 'science' behind arguments around climate change, which is a distinct topic from that of 'global warming'

Few would doubt that souring then releasing billions of tons of carbon sourced chemicals into the atmosphere will have consequences: PRIMARY - pollution & high rate usage of finite non replaceable resources; SECONDARY - climate change?

However, there is a significant amount of scientific opinion, that the latter is bad science, if it discounts all possible significant scientific reasons e.g. behaviour of the Sun, the position of the Sun - in relation to the Earths climate & position..

Given there is a myopia, what motivates those who eschew the arguments.

A doubly dangerous game … lets use a real issue to achieve our aims (which by other means, we cannot readily do)


  • 11.
  • At 05:05 PM on 08 Jul 2007,
  • brossen99 wrote:

Climate change science is nothing more than a quasi-religion promoting a huge great marketing scam. As it turns out we find that even something as simple as low energy light bulbs are full of potentially dangerous toxic compounds and elements. If there was ever anyone out to promote a marketing scam it is the music industry, just imagine how much CO2 the world would save if everyone stopped listening to and watching music on the broadcast media, let alone going to live concerts. It would not be too bad if they were asking for a reasonable cut in CO2 emissions, but they want 90% which would put everybody back in the stone age.

  • 12.
  • At 04:15 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Poppaea wrote:

Watch Dexter - it's a fantastic series!

  • 13.
  • At 11:58 AM on 22 Jul 2007,
  • csharp wrote:

Newsnight Review

Here is one show where they don't have to apologise for showing things that are made up.

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