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 AUSTRALIA
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 BRAZIL
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 CHINA
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