With the G8 Summit just days away, pop stars the world over are preparing for marathon concerts tomorrow in each of the eight wealthiest nations in the world. Modeled after the Live Aid concerts 20 years ago (when the likes of U2, David Bowie, and Mick Jagger performed for some 1.5 billion people and helped raise money for Ethiopia’s famine), the Live 8 concerts aim to draw attention to and demand action from the leaders gathering at the summit.

Unfortunately, however, Live 8 is focused on only one of summit leader Tony Blair’s two main goals for the meeting — and it’s not climate change. Don’t get me wrong; I’m definitely anti-poverty-in-Africa. I just wish some of the media attention this Live 8 concert will get on outlets like MTV and VH1 — where younger, impressionable viewers will be watching — could be focused on that other major issue. Live 8 organizer Bob Geldof says the event will be the “greatest concert ever,” and with appearances from superstars like Coldplay, Jay-Z, U2, Justin Timberlake, and even a Pink Floyd reunion, I’m not one to disagree. But I also have to side with critics like humanitarian aid expert David Rieff who questions the efficacy of what he calls “a new kind of celebrity activism.”

“The Live 8 phenomenon is part of this Western fantasy of omnipotence,” Mr. Rieff [said] in a telephone interview, “a politically correct version of the imperial impulse to give some money and all will be well, as if the problems of Africa are just the results of our not paying enough attention.”

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations DOUBLED!

Do greens suffer from this sort of mindset as well? That if we could just get the message out that climate change is real — that global warming is indeed happening (because it is, people!) — then we’ll be able to effect positive change?

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

It’s clear that the White House, with all their climate-change report editing — er, interagency review, ahem — believes knowledge is power, and any AA-alum will tell you that acknowledging the problem is the first step. But what is the second step?

Even as major corporations make moves to change their own operations and make known their interest in greenhouse-gas regulations, the U.S. refuses to acknowledge the issue, and early drafts prepared for the summit indicate that the G8 is even further from any sort of agreement.

So, what can we expect from the G8 Summit? What should we even hope for? And would a climate change concert on the scale of Live 8 (and perhaps featuring Canadian band Hot Hot Heat!) really help save the world?

Says Niall Stokes, editor of Irish music mag Hot Press, “Politics and rock ‘n’ roll don’t go together all that well most of the time.” Hmmm. Don’t tell Bono.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.