In South Africa, host to the Johannesburg concert, a poll late last year found that nearly half the respondents did not think global warming would affect them personally. "When you come from a place where people are looking for their next meal," says Kushmika Singh, a student of Environmental Sciences at Witwatersrand University, "you might not care what is going to happen to the environment in 50 years."
In Rio de Janeiro, organizers hope 1 million people will show up for a concert on Copacabana beach starring Lenny Kravitz. If so, it's likely to be the music, not the cause, that draws. When Greenpeace staged a bicycle ride through the city this past Sunday to draw attention to global warming, only a few hundred people turned out.
Many around the world appear to feel that climate change is so large a problem there is nothing they themselves can do about it. "Individuals can take action by pressuring their government to do something, but I don't think my turning off the lights or driving less will do anything," says Fang Jie, a 27-year-old in Shanghai, China, who has bought a ticket for the concert there.
Ursula Wolsoncraft, a 28-year-old project administrator in Sydney, says she encounters a similar attitude among her generation of Australians. "They feel climate change is such a big problem they have no control over it," she explains.
That is where "Live Earth" hopes to make a difference, says Ms. Robinson. "People feel powerless," she acknowledges. "They wonder what they can do about a melting glacier. Part of "Live Earth" is to tell them, 'Hey, there is something you can do'."
Bring your own chopsticks
Concertgoers and TV viewers will be shown video clips and public service messages proposing scores of practical tips for cutting CO2 emissions, from turning off their computers at night in America to bringing their own chopsticks to restaurants in China, so as not to use the disposable wooden ones provided and thus save millions of trees.