Journalists tune out Live Earth's harmony

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – This isn’t New York.

It is the Meadowlands Sports Complex, home to Giants Stadium, where Live Earth “New York” is taking place. Tens of thousands of sweaty, sunburnt yet energetic individuals surround me under a mostly clear sky with a temperature in the 90s.

Overhead flies a small prop plane circling the stadium, which, through the course of the day, drags along three banners knocking Al Gore and the concept of global warming.

No use in paying $4.25 for a bottle of water here; I brought my own. I continue to refill it throughout the 8-hour concert. I push off the temptation of $7 beer realizing how dehydrated I am. That, and having spent about $100 for a ticket, I’m thinking money conservation is as necessary as energy conservation.

I carpooled with a friend from Boston to New Haven, Conn., where we boarded a New Jersey commuter train ($25 round-trip) into New York City on Friday night. Rail transportation from Boston is ridiculously priced via Amtrak. Flying – though cheaper than Amtrak - was ruled out as an option for this eco-safe event. A New Jersey public transit bus ($10 round-trip) brought us from the city to the stadium.

Saturday, Giants Stadium was filled with excitement and optimism for change in our climate. But watch most mainstream media outlets’ coverage of the concerts and you’ll hear that the attempts are in vain. Journalists are more focused on pointing out flaws of others instead of admitting their contribution to the problem.

Sure, some people were more environmentally conscious than others. In one of my visits to the restroom and water fountain I observed a young man in his early-20s (if that), visibly drunk and disoriented. Focused on maximizing tanning time and sex appeal, the shirtless, toned and confused guy stumbled from the restroom sink toward the door. He walked past a mirror, stopping to check his complexion for a solid 20 seconds.

The quest to end global warming apparently requires finding a way to get sloshed and laid.

Leaving my second-row seat in third-level section 314 around 10:30 p.m. Saturday, I looked above the exit to see grandstands littered in materials. Even at an eco-friendly concert, people still found it difficult to throw their bottles and wrappers in one of three labeled boxes as they departed for home.

When you put on an event of such magnitude there will be flaws. Without doubt there were people attending solely for the music – I practically was at first. Yet by day’s end I had a new understanding. Ideally, so did most of the world. Unfortunately, journalists are too caught up debating the politics of global warming instead of focusing on the positive effects of conservation.

Neglect the argument of whether global warming exists. Consider the ideas of energy conservation and recycling, the very principles of smart consumption and consumerism. They can’t possibly hurt as much as they can heal.

Recycling might be less convenient than throwing everything into one can. Flipping light switches off more often takes a little bit of training before it becomes habitual. You can’t suggest these actions are damaging or a waste of time. If they don’t curb global warming, they’ll at least spare landfills and save you subtle amounts on your energy bill.

And yes, it will take some time to theoretically offset the waste produced by Live Earth’s multi-continent production, but it’s the awareness organizers wanted, not one day of green peace.

Thanks to the politics involved in the debate, namely vendettas against organizer Al Gore, the efforts of billions were overshadowed by senseless debate. Journalists turned the worldwide harmony of Saturday’s concert into an out-of tune melody of cynicism, politics and hypocrisy.

When it comes to waste, journalists are just as guilty. Tour newsrooms across the country and you’ll be horrified. Paper is everywhere. Computers are never turned off. Reporters and photographers rarely travel together. Lights are left on for no reason.

Mainstream media, don’t bitch to me about how hypocritical the Live Earth concert is when your executives are traveling around in Lincoln Town Cars, reporters are flying across oceans and domestic crews are traveling to “breaking news” about a hotel heiress wannabe-princess whose life has little to no influence on, frankly, anything.

You, mainstream, are no better than the pop stars, the celebrities, the (few) excessively wasteful concert-goers. You, too, are the hypocrites. At least give some of the artists the credit for admitting their downfalls.

Criticize, if you must, the waste created in the venues and en route to or from them. Then look at the collective spew of senseless cynicism – the newsprint, the energy to control the airwaves or provide editorial server space – and you’ll see the most shameful waste of all.

Success from Saturday’s concert cannot easily be measured in the short term, and it will only be noticed in the long run if journalists give the cause a true listen and admit their faults, as well.

John Mayer lays it out for the press before Saturday's show.

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