Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Live Earth 2007: Where to go, who to see, what to know — even if you don't have a ticket

Published as an online exclusive (with excerpts in the Portland Phoenix and the Boston Phoenix)

So you’re headed to a Live Earth gig somewhere, whether outside New York City or in a remote outpost in Antarctica. Maybe you’re staying home to watch the various simulcasts online. But Live Earth is more than just a concert — or at least it’s supposed to be. Organizers are calling it “a concert for a climate in crisis,” and what better way to honor Al Gore’s dream of world climate awareness than by thinking green thoughts and seeing a few unsettling sights, to soak in a bit more the waning days of our nice, comfy climate?

Herewith, a brief list of the Live Earth concerts (the one in Istanbul, Turkey, was canceled because the government and potential sponsors are distracted by upcoming elections), what musicians you’ll hear, a (relatively) nearby place to each concert where you can actually see the effects of global warming, and — for the homebodies preferring to use their exercycle-powered computers to experience the human decline — links to Webcams where you can see the real effects of human innovation on our big blue marble.

WHERE: Rothera Station, Adelaide Island, off the Antarctic Peninsula

WHO: Nunatak (an utterly unpublicized and mostly ad-hoc group of scientists and support staff at the British station)

WHAT TO SEE: Open water just south of Cape Longing on the Antarctic Peninsula, where the Larsen A and B ice shelves used to be (before their sudden collapses in 1995 and 2002, respectively). Researchers in February reported that they had found several new species that had been living under the ice shelves for thousands of years, as well as species that moved in after the collapses, abruptly changing the seabed environment.

WEBCAM: Check out life at Rothera Station

And at the other extreme, a North Pole Webcam

WHERE: Aussie Stadium, Moore Park, Sydney, New South Wales

WHO: Blue King Brown, Crowded House, Eskimo Joe, Ghostwriters, Jack Johnson, John Butler Trio, Missy Higgins, Paul Kelly, Sneaky Sound System, Toni Collette and the Finish, Wolfmother

WHAT TO SEE: The Macquarie Marshes Nature Reserve, north of Nyngan, New South Wales, which are drier than they should be because irrigation systems upriver from the marshes are taking more water than they are allowed to, as farmers do everything they can to minimize the effects of a years-long drought that has turned many Australians’ attention to global warming.

WEBCAM: This vineyard is not that close to Macquarie Marshes, but is well irrigated, and feeling the effects of drought

WHERE: Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro

WHO: Lenny Kravitz, Pharrell Williams, Macy Gray, Xuxa, O Rappa, Marcelo D2, Jorge Ben Jor, Jota Quest, Vanessa Da Matta, MV Bill

WHAT TO SEE: The Amazon Rain Forest, which is actually drying out. As the forest area drops, so does the amount of rainfall. The effect is increased by rain-preventing smoke from the slash-and-burn practices of poor farmers destroying the wilderness to make fertile farmland.

WEBCAM: Keep an eye on very localized deforestation in a residential garden in Olinda, Brazil

WHERE: Oriental Pearl Tower, Shanghai

WHO: Sarah Brightman, Eason Chan, Winnie Hsin, Evonne Hsu, Huang Xiao Ming, Anthony Wong, Joey Yung, 12 Girls Band, Soler

WHAT TO SEE: Linfen, Shanxi province, a city the World Bank says has the worst air quality on Earth, as a result of vast amounts of factories, mines, and homes that all burn coal. China is opening an average of two coal-fired electricity-generating plants each week. The country’s carbon-dioxide emissions surpassed the US level for the first time in 2006, though Chinese officials note that per capita, China’s emissions are one-fourth of America’s, and half of Britain’s.

WEBCAM: Shanghai’s air isn’t that clean, either. See what the folks attending the concert are breathing.

WHERE: Arena at Hamburg, Hamburg

WHO: Chris Cornell, Jan Delay, Juli, Katie Melua, Lotto King Karl, Maná, Michael Mittermeier, Sasha, Silbermond, Reamonn, Roger Cicero, Snoop Dogg, Mando Diao, Enrique Iglesias, Shakira

WHAT TO SEE: The Vernagtferner glacier, in the Otztal Alps, near Innsbruck, Austria. This glacier is one of the fastest-retreating in the world, having lost one-third of its area and more than half its mass in the past 100 years.

WEBCAM: This view of a ski lift at a mountain resort in Bayerisch Eisenstein, Bayern province, will tell you how much snow is falling and how fast it’s melting — both key elements of glacier-mass changes. (Yeah, it’s summer now. Keep checking back.)

WHERE: Makuhari Messe, Tokyo, Kanto region, Honshu island

WHO: Linkin Park, Rihanna, Ai Otsuka, Cocco, Genki Rockets, Kumi Koda, Rip Slyme, Rize, Ayaka, UA, Abingdon Boys School, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Rihanna, Bonnie Pink, AI, Michael Nyman

WHAT TO SEE: Well, there’s always the Kyoto International Conference Hall in Sakyo ward, Kyoto, where the Kyoto Protocol for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions was negotiated back in December 1997. (Nearly a decade later, and the US Senate hasn’t ratified it.) But also head to the Tohoku region, north of Tokyo, to the rice paddies, which are seeing increased production of the country’s staple food as a result of warmer temperatures. At the same time, wheat production throughout the country is falling.

WEBCAM: Pay attention to the streets of Tokyo — if a massive rice-fed monster isn’t trampling through them, maybe there’s hope.

WHERE: The Cradle of Humankind, Maropeng, Gauteng Province (near Johannesburg)

WHO: UB40, Joss Stone, Angelique Kidjo, Baaba Maal, Danny K, the Parlotones, Soweto Gospel Choir, Vusi Mahlasela, Zola

WHAT TO SEE: The Karoo National Park, a desert ecosystem designated as a “biodiversity hot spot,” with as many as 2000 plant species found nowhere else on Earth. The area is being monitored for its reaction to climbing temperatures, and scientists have already found that some young plants aren’t doing well, because they can’t store enough water to survive the heat.

WEBCAM: Watch for signs of plants in distress in the forest and mountain view.

WHERE: Wembley Stadium, Wembley, London

WHO: Beastie Boys, Black Eyed Peas, Bloc Party, Corinne Bailey Rae, Damien Rice, David Gray, Duran Duran, Foo Fighters, Genesis, James Blunt, John Legend, Keane, Madonna, Paolo Nutini, Razorlight, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Snow Patrol, Metallica, Kasabian, Terra Naomi, Spinal Tap, Pussycat Dolls

WHAT TO SEE: The London Underground subway system, which in 2006 was partially disabled because of skyrocketing electricity demand from people around the city trying to beat the heat. (Also check out the M25 motorway encircling London; a segment between Junctions 26 and 27 melted in the summer heat in 2003.)

WEBCAM: If London’s roads are melting, be among the first to see them on the BBC’s “jam cams” monitoring traffic around the city.

WHERE: Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey

WHO: AFI, Akon, Alicia Keys, Bon Jovi, Dave Matthews Band, Fall Out Boy, John Mayer, Kayne West, Kelly Clarkson, KT Tunstall, Ludacris, Melissa Etheridge, the Police, Roger Waters, Smashing Pumpkins, Keith Urban, Taking Back Sunday

WHAT TO SEE: Almost any stretch of the legendary Jersey Shore, where storms (of both increasing frequency and severity) continue to do serious damage to beaches, shorefront areas, and homes. As ocean levels rise, areas near the shore will be inundated, according to a recent report by Environment New Jersey, an activist group.

WEBCAM: Look for rising waters in the beach view.

On the Web
Live Earth: liveearth.msn.com

Antarctica: http://www.awi.de/en/news/press_releases/detail/item/einzigartiges_oekosystem_unter_dem_ehemaligen_larsen_schelfeis/
Australia: http://www.theage.com.au/news/National/Irrigators-want-probe-into-water-theft/2007/06/26/1182623882590.html; http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/052407R.shtml
Brazil: http://trmm.gsfc.nasa.gov; http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Study/AmazonFire/
China: http://environment.guardian.co.uk/climatechange/story/0,,2111124,00.html
Germany: http://www.unep.org/geo/geo_ice
Japan: http://www.epcc.pref.osaka.jp/apec/eng/earth/global_warming/dounaru.html
South Africa: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/08/0804_030804_karoo.html
Turkey: http://www.eonline.com/news/article/index.jsp?uuid=5b7285ea-7f09-4b9a-a4bd-10cae6a51ea7
UK: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/08/07/nhot07.xml
US: http://www.environmentnewjersey.org/reports/global-warming/global-warming-reports/an-unfamiliar-state-local-impacts-of-global-warming-in-new-jersey