FERGIE (OF BLACK Eyed Peas fame) has put her Hummer up for sale – or so she claimed in a backstage interview during the Live Earth concert. To me, the revelation sums up the breathtakingly superficial approach many celebs have to serious issues, climate change included.
Celebrities are hardly the most authentic green ambassadors. Think of their gigantic carbon footprint from all that jetting around the world on tours (or to far-flung filming locations). And then there are their mansions with their massive consumption of electricity. The film industry is also, by the way, Los Angeles’s biggest source of pollution.
On the face of it, Live Earth and its accompanying celeb endorsements is a great idea. It’s an opportunity to raise awareness about climate change – and through corny adverts throughout the coverage, attempt to make viewers greener.
Bob Geldof doesn’t seem to think so – he claims that the concept doesn’t have a fixed goal. But then bearing in mind the mushy, wishy-washy motivation behind 2005’s Live Eight, that may just be sour grapes.
Yet the cynic in me says Live Earth is just another opportunity for artists to perform and for their profiles to be associated with the latest and greatest “good cause”. For politicians, actors and musicians climate change would appear just to be the latest saintly hobbyhorse everyone’s clambering on: this year’s starving Ethiopian kid. Al Gore has made environmental campaigning sexy. For the inane consuming western masses, he has successfully changed perceptions: no longer is being green thought of as the domain of weed-smoking hippies or anarchists with long beards and a can of spray-paint.
It’s worth being reminded, however, that long after An Inconvenient Truth was produced Al Gore was using more electricity in his house in one month than the average American family does in a year. Apparently, he’s putting greening measures in place – but installing those solar panels so belatedly reeks of hypocrisy, doesn’t it?
It is vital we save the planet – and I have no doubt that recycling glossies and installing permanent filter cones in your coffee machine instead of disposable ones (as Jennifer Garner suggests) will help. But aside from changing the way we live so that we consume less and reuse more, we also need to awaken big business and government’s [probably nonexistent] environmental conscience. South Africa has a lot of work to do: we pollute about the same as Brazil yet only have a quarter of its population!
For the long term preservation of our planet, economic growth needs to be inextricably linked to responsibility. Sustainability needs to move from being a buzzword to an actual reality.
As humans, we are custodians rather than owners of our planet – so let’s make it last. I guess selling your Hummer is one way to start.