I didn’t think I’d find much of interest in the Live Earth concerts, thinking it little more than a big hype, but nevertheless I tivo’d all 20-some hours of it. When I sat down to watch it yesterday I found it both inspiring and annoying. There are incredible little films interspersed throughout the concert footage that tell small stories of the effect of climate change that made me want to make big changes in my own “carbon footprint” by doing things like turning off lights that I’m not using and using less water. And then you have these incredibly huge stages with billions of watts of power being used for flashing light shows and electrified instruments. Not to mention Madonna’s really bad song “Hey You” being promoted throughout the entire 20 plus hours of video.

Madonna is another issue – Phel posted a link to a Fox News article that outlines the investments of Madonna’s foundation in companies like

Alcoa, Ingersoll Rand, Weyerhaeuser, and several others associated with oil exploration, digging, and refining including British Petroleum, Schlumberger (a chief competitor of Halliburton), Devon Energy, Peabody Energy, Emerson Electric, Kimberly Clark and Weatherford International.

In 2002, the University of Massachusetts’ Political Research Institute ranked Alcoa No. 9 on a list of all-time toxic American companies. And I don’t mean toxic as in toxic bachelor. This is toxic as in air pollution.

The same UMass PRI study ranked Ford Motor Company at No. 7 on the Toxic Top 10. Northrop Grumman was No. 17. Weyerhaeuser was No. 42. Emerson Electric was No. 56. 3M Corp was No. 70. Kimberly Clark was No. 96.

You get the picture. Madonna’s Ray of Light Foundation has stock in each of these companies. Her last published tax statement claims $4.2 million in corporate stock, and only $620,000 in donations to other charities including her pet project: the Kabbalah Center.

Baby boomers (the Pluto in Leo generation) often get a bad rap for the hypocrisy of our lifestyles; we have high and mighty ideals that are inconveniently in conflict with our desire for a big lifestyle. We love the planet but don’t want to give up our SUVs, five acre lots and vacations via jet airplanes. We prefer to use our money for granite countertops rather than install expensive green features such as photovoltaics in our new homes. (This is me I’m talking about, folks.) That’s the inconvenient truth.

I’ve been thinking about this a great deal because one of the things I teach is something I call the Alchemy of Abundance which helps clients to create a new vision for the life they want to lead. I encourage them to think big – to expand their vision into a life of affluence and joy. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that abundance is infinite, and that one person’s expansion does not necessitate loss for another.

At a certain point, however, abundance turns into greed. The Aral Sea in Russia that was highlighted in one of the Live Earth short films is shrinking because its waters were diverted for irrigation projects. Billions of dollars are being spent to establish a permanent US base in Iraq and provide business ventures for Halliburton and Kellogg Brown & Root that could be going to fund projects that would help millions of people around the world. CEOs of major US corporations are earning millions of dollars in bonuses while their employees are laid off. Abundance needs to have a balance.

Pluto in Sagittarius has brought about many things, including globalization. Pluto as we know brings extremes of experience, and Sagittarius is an adventurer and explorer. Pluto in Sag has brought about an explosion of world music and the ability to link 150 countries in a satellite network to provide the Live Earth concert experience. However, Pluto in Sag has also brought the breakdown (Pluto) of employment in the US via outsourcing jobs and sending factories overseas.

But back to Live Earth . . . I believe we can criticize the hypocrisy and still believe in the goal; in fact, it’s crucial that we be able to recognize hypocrisy where we find it. Especially if it’s in our own lives. There is no doubt that millions and perhaps billions of people were inspired by the concerts and the buzz around them to make changes in their lives. I have already hauled a bucket up to my shower to catch the water that falls while I’m waiting for it to heat up. And I’m more careful about the lights I leave on, and have started turning up the temperature during the day when I’m not at home.

And I also believe we must hold our icons to the standards which we are espousing and not make excuses because their hearts are in the right place and they’re saying the right things. Was Madonna really the best headliner for this enterprise with her nine houses and private jet?
I checked my own carbon footprint and found my impact is almost 21,000 kg per year. The average person in the US has an impact of 19,000 kg but it’s 11,000 in other industrialized nations. Before I preach about saving the earth, I had better start in my own home!!

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