The World Prepares For Al Gore’s ‘Live Earth’ Event

Like the planet, Live Earth keeps changing.

A ninth concert was added Friday to the global series of shows to raise awareness about climate change, whose worldwide lineup includes Madonna, Metallica, the Police and Kanye West.

Country music stars Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood will headline a show in Washington on the National Mall, about two blocks from the U.S. Capitol. The biggest names will appear at Live Earth concerts in London and the United States, with more modest lineups of mostly local and regional acts in Australia, Japan, China, South Africa, Brazil and Germany.

Live Earth was inspired and is backed by former Vice President Al Gore’s campaign to force global warming onto the international political agenda by generating a groundswell of public concern.

But critics say that it lacks achievable goals, and that bringing in jet-setting rock stars in fuel-guzzling airliners to plug in to amplifier stacks and cranking up the sound may send mixed messages about energy conservation.

“The last thing the planet needs is a rock concert,” The Who’s singer Roger Daltrey recently told a British newspaper.

Organizers say the concerts will be as green as possible, with a tally of energy use being kept. Proceeds from ticket sales will go toward distributing power-efficient light bulbs and other measures that will offset the shows’ greenhouse gas emissions, they say.

“This is going to be the greenest event of its kind, ever,” Gore told The Associated Press recently. “The carbon offsets and the innovative practices that are being used to make this a green event, I think, will set the standard for years to come.”

More than 150 artists will perform at the eight concerts. Other venues are in Tokyo, Shanghai, Johannesburg and Hamburg. The New York venue is actually being held in East Rutherford, N.J.

Besides some criticism, Live Earth has run into some organizational hiccups. A judge canceled the Brazil concert because of security concerns before reversing the decision just two days before the event, and lukewarm public interest caused a planned show in Istanbul, Turkey to be called off.

Promoter Michael Chugg said on Friday there were still plenty of tickets available for the Sydney show.

But organizers were predicting live broadcasts on cable television and the Internet could reach up to 2 billion people. Scores of short films and public service announcements will be aired giving the audience tips about how to conserve energy and reduce their environmental impact.

Laid-back rocker Jack Johnson is the only international act in Sydney, which features the reformed 1980s pop group Crowded House as top billers.

The Tokyo concert, featuring artists including Ai Otsuka, Kumi Koda and Linkin Park, comes next, followed by the other cities. Madonna and the Black Eyed Peas topline London, while the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Alicia Keys are among the acts in the United States.

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