Let’s hope Live Earth doesn’t repeat Live Aid’s results

I applaud Al Gore’s efforts to confront climate change and laud the fact that he has brought many previously ignored environmental issues into the mainstream. But it’s hard not to be a little provoked by a Reuters report today that leads with Al Gore’s hope that the Live Earth concerts scheduled for July 7 will ...

602706_070410_liveaid_05.jpg
602706_070410_liveaid_05.jpg

I applaud Al Gore's efforts to confront climate change and laud the fact that he has brought many previously ignored environmental issues into the mainstream. But it's hard not to be a little provoked by a Reuters report today that leads with Al Gore's hope that the Live Earth concerts scheduled for July 7 will do for climate change awareness what Live Aid did for Africa. Aside from noting that pop stars, with their "taste for conspicuous consumption," are hardly the best advocates for environmentalism, we should ask: What exactly did those Live Aid concerts ultimately achieve, apart from a glittering media spectacle and some healthy publicity for its entertainers? An update more than two decades on:

I applaud Al Gore’s efforts to confront climate change and laud the fact that he has brought many previously ignored environmental issues into the mainstream. But it’s hard not to be a little provoked by a Reuters report today that leads with Al Gore’s hope that the Live Earth concerts scheduled for July 7 will do for climate change awareness what Live Aid did for Africa. Aside from noting that pop stars, with their “taste for conspicuous consumption,” are hardly the best advocates for environmentalism, we should ask: What exactly did those Live Aid concerts ultimately achieve, apart from a glittering media spectacle and some healthy publicity for its entertainers? An update more than two decades on:

  • Life expectancy at birth in Ethiopia—the main target of the concerts—is just above 42 years
  • Almost half the children under five in Ethiopia are malnourished
  • Over a quarter of Ethiopia’s population live on less than $1 a day, over eighty percent live on less than $2 a day, and the country ranks in the bottom ten of the U.N.’s Human Development Report
  • Almost thirty percent of children under five in sub-Saharan Africa generally are malnourished

The Live Earth message is undoubtedly important. I just hope the upcoming concerts achieve more than Live Aid did back in 1985.

Prerna Mankad is a researcher at Foreign Policy.

More from Foreign Policy

The USS Nimitz and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and South Korean Navy warships sail in formation during a joint naval exercise off the South Korean coast.
The USS Nimitz and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and South Korean Navy warships sail in formation during a joint naval exercise off the South Korean coast.

America Is a Heartbeat Away From a War It Could Lose

Global war is neither a theoretical contingency nor the fever dream of hawks and militarists.

A protester waves a Palestinian flag in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, during a demonstration calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. People sit and walk on the grass lawn in front of the protester and barricades.
A protester waves a Palestinian flag in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, during a demonstration calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. People sit and walk on the grass lawn in front of the protester and barricades.

The West’s Incoherent Critique of Israel’s Gaza Strategy

The reality of fighting Hamas in Gaza makes this war terrible one way or another.

Biden dressed in a dark blue suit walks with his head down past a row of alternating U.S. and Israeli flags.
Biden dressed in a dark blue suit walks with his head down past a row of alternating U.S. and Israeli flags.

Biden Owns the Israel-Palestine Conflict Now

In tying Washington to Israel’s war in Gaza, the U.S. president now shares responsibility for the broader conflict’s fate.

U.S. President Joe Biden is seen in profile as he greets Chinese President Xi Jinping with a handshake. Xi, a 70-year-old man in a dark blue suit, smiles as he takes the hand of Biden, an 80-year-old man who also wears a dark blue suit.
U.S. President Joe Biden is seen in profile as he greets Chinese President Xi Jinping with a handshake. Xi, a 70-year-old man in a dark blue suit, smiles as he takes the hand of Biden, an 80-year-old man who also wears a dark blue suit.

Taiwan’s Room to Maneuver Shrinks as Biden and Xi Meet

As the latest crisis in the straits wraps up, Taipei is on the back foot.