Every trip should have a soundtrack, so we’ve asked CJ Fahey with Nat Geo Music to select artists from their catalog whose songs will inspire you to get going.
Two weeks ago Nat Geo Music hosted an Earth Day concert in Rome, Italy, that brought close to 200,000 people to the famous Piazza del Popolo to hear music groups including Ben Harper & Relentless7 and Nat Geo Music’s own Bibi Tanga & The Selenites. For a concert, it was a smashing success. But the occasion was Earth Day, so how did we fare with respect to our goal of raising environmental awareness, promoting eco-friendly lifestyle, and offsetting carbon costs of the event?
To offset the carbon footprint of the event we’ve planned to plant 1,000 trees in a park in Rome, as well as acres of trees in Costa Rica. An Italian non-profit helped calculate how many trees we would need to plant to stay carbon neutral. Between every musical act speakers and video content highlighted the Earth Day theme and spoke to simple things each individual can do to make a difference.
But when the concert ended I was crushed to see the piazza full of trash and empty drink bottles. And problems with public transportation (welcome to Italy!) forced more people than we expected to show up in cars and scooters. I wondered how many people left the concert having absorbed our environmental message. If we really cared about the environment would it have been better not to have a concert at all?
Those questions made me think of the Intelligent Travel blog because “intelligent travelers”–ie. people who care about the planet and strive to be eco-friendly–must encounter similar ethical questions in their travels. Does the carbon footprint of a plane trip across the world compromise eco-ideology? Should we all just stay at home and hold our breaths until global warming cools down?
If the only acceptable currencies of environmental consciousness are vigilance and self-criticism, we’re in trouble. I believe eco-friendly living requires a healthy dose of inspiration and fun. When you travel to Costa Rica don’t forget how much fuel the plane that takes you there consumes. But let the rain forests and beaches fuel your commitment to make other sacrifices in your life to help protect and preserve the local habitats. Instead of communicating environmental messages only through laws, editorials, and scientific reports, let’s add some music, invite some friends, and turn it into a celebration. Even if some people show up just to have a good time, there’s a good chance we’ll reach others who otherwise would have been out of reach.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Next year for Earth Day we’ll have lots more trash and recycling bins and figure out new and creative ways to engage the audience in environmental action. But we’re also going to keep the music coming and not give up on our goal to make environmentalism inspiring, relevant, and fun.
Photos: Mirta Lispi