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What's Music Got to Do with Climate Change?
Adventure chats with Control Room CEO Kevin Wall about his latest endeavor,
Live Earth.   Text by Mary Anne Potts   Photograph courtesy Live Earth

Photo: Kevin Wall

THE MASTERMIND: Following up on his Live 8 concert to bring debt relief to Africa, Kevin Wall is also at the humming core of Saturday's Live Earth event.

July 6, 2007

This Saturday, July 7, 2007, the world's biggest musical artists—the Police, Lenny Kravitz, Kelly Clarkson, Bon Jovi, Madonna, John Mayer, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the list goes on and on—will come together for Live Earth: Concerts for a Climate in Crisis. For founder Kevin Wall, this is his second worldwide musical event of epic proportions.

The 24-hour extravaganza to draw attention to global climate change will have performances on all seven continents and will be distributed via TV, Internet, radio, and wireless channels. And yes, even Antarctica isn't too extreme for Live Earth: The indie-folk band Nunatak will represent the bottom of the world from the British Antarctic Survey (read our interview with the musicians).

The ambitious global event is the brain child of Emmy Award-winning producer Wall, CEO of Control Room, which produces and distributes live music. Live Earth follows in the wake of Wall's Live 8, which aimed to bring debt relief—and one of the largest audiences in history—to Africa.
This time, the theme is SOS, or "Save Our Selves." The rhythm of the international distress signal will come alive in original compositions by many artists. On the Live Earth Web site (worth a look—it's pretty cool), you can find the Live Earth Production Blog, musician updates, and illustrated eco-tips from National Geographic Emerging Explorer David de Rothschild's The Live Earth Global Warming Survival Handbook: 77 Essential Skills to Stop Climate Change.

Here, Wall reveals what music's got to do with climate change.

Read about the Antarctic band Nunatak >>


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Why are you compelled to take on this massive environmental event?
Wall: Music, like nothing else, transcends geographic borders. It's the international language. When you combine it with a message, it can emotionally move people like nothing else. This is a red alert for the planet. If I can help put two billion people on a TV screen, if we can move that needle, then I think that's the most important thing we can do for humanity today.

The theme, SOS, Save Our Selves, is pretty bleak. Are we on a sinking ship?
Wall: No, but I think it's a call to action. And we're answering the call. Around the globe, SOS is an international language. Everyone understands it. We've taken that SOS beat and had major music artists reinterpret it with their own sounds.

There are six continents with live concerts. Is Antarctica too extreme for rock-and-roll?
Wall: July is the beginning of the winter in Antarctica, so we're obviously not going to stage a concert there. However, we are doing something from one of the British scientific research stations, which will be live around the globe. It will be something very special. (Read our interview with the Antarctic indie-folk band Nunatak.)

What do you think the coolest element will be?
Wall: The coolest part is that if you watch any fifteen minutes of it, you walk away with something you can do in your life to start to make a change. We want to get people thinking about climate change as they've never thought about it before—whether it's being a vegetarian for one day a week or easier things, like changing your light bulbs.

You were also the brains behind Live 8. Did that effort pay off?
Wall: Well, Live 8 was timed to influence a G8 conference that was happening five days later. It was about eight leaders deciding to forgive $50 million in debt. That was successful, but there's still a lot to do.

This show, however, is not about the "haves" taking care of the "have nots." This is about all of us. The problem is as resonant here in the U.S. as it is in China, in New Zealand, as it is places like the UK, where they have a great environmental movement happening now. But everyone needs to participate.

What do you feel is the most disturbing issue surrounding global warming?
Wall: The fact that it has been politicized. That is the most harmful thing today to global warming.

Why are celebs so interested in being involved?
Wall: Celebrities have an understanding that they have power with the media. They understand that they can help effect change in a positive way.

Do you think this is a fad, this "Green Movement" of people actively addressing their impact on the Earth?
Wall: I hope it's not.  Unfortunately, the weather is going to continue to drive this for the next 10, 25, and 50 years. The weather is going to keep moving this forward. This is not a Hollywood movie. This is real life.

Read about the Antarctic band Nunatak >>

Cover: Adventure magazine

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