Using music by the likes of Ludacris and the Red Hot Chili Peppers to attract young people's attention, "Live Earth" aims "to have people make changes in their own lives," says Yusef Robb, global coordinator for the concerts. "When people change, corporations and leaders follow."
Critics, such as Roger Daltrey, former lead singer for "The Who," and Bob Geldof, the original global-gig guru, have said that the last thing the world's climate needs is a yeti-sized carbon footprint left by rock stars jetting to venues that will tap megawatts of electricity for lighting and sound systems.
"Live Earth" planners counter that they have deployed "sustainability engineers" at all the venues to make them as green as possible, from using recycled toilet paper to LED lights. And they say that hundreds of millions of people are not aware enough of global warming's threat.
Certainly the Turks do not appear overly concerned. Plans for a concert in Istanbul had to be scratched because "nobody is interested," complained Cengizhan Yeldan, the frustrated promoter.
In China, No. 13 on green issues list
In China, which is about to overtake the United States as the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, climate change came 13th on a list of 14 environmental concerns in an opinion poll last year, way behind food safety and air pollution. "The sense of urgency is still not so big as in other countries," says Ma Jun, head of the Institute for Environmental and Public Affairs, a Beijing think tank, "because here air and water pollution threaten people's health directly every day."
When Hu Xin, an environmentalist, returned home recently from studying in Sweden to take the helm of "Global Village," a prominent NGO in Beijing, he says he found "hardly anybody (on the staff) who knew enough about climate change to conduct change-related projects."