- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 7, 2007

From combined dispatches

Former Vice President Al Gore’s Live Earth concerts found a last-minute home in Washington yesterday after the Smithsonian offered use of the American Indian museum for the worldwide event.

A few blocks from the Capitol where some Republican lawmakers prevented the concert from taking place, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian will host one of several concerts today highlighting climate change.

“A couple of global warming naysayers used parliamentary tricks in the Congress to block that,” Mr. Gore said on CNN. “Well, instead of the cavalry riding to the rescue, the American Indians came to the rescue.”

Concert promoters initially sought Washington’s expansive Mall as its U.S. venue, but two groups already had permits for that space, forcing Live Earth to find another location.

Mr. Gore turned to friends in Congress in hopes of getting the Capitol lawn but some Republicans blocked legislation to permit it. That bumped the concert to the 80,000-seat Giants Stadium in New Jersey, just across the Hudson River from Manhattan, N.Y.

In contrast, the space at the American Indian museum’s plaza, where the concert will be held, can only hold about 200, but video screens will be set up for larger crowds to gather across the street near the Capitol reflecting pool.

The museum had already scheduled a concert called Mother Earth to coincide with the Live Earth events, but expanded that in the past few days to include Mr. Gore and more performers.

Mr. Gore will begin the Washington concert with a speech on climate change that will be followed by performances by popular married country singers Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood and Native Roots, a reggae band from Albuquerque, N.M.

Mr. Gore has become a global voice on climate change, warning of a “planetary emergency” and calling for U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide, the largest source of the greenhouse gas, to be frozen at current levels.

Other Live Earth concerts will be held in Rio de Janeiro, London, Sydney, Australia, Johannesburg, Tokyo, Shanghai, Hamburg, Germany, and New Jersey, and broadcast worldwide.

Unlike most major Live Earth concerts elsewhere, the Washington event will be free.

Organizers say the concerts will be as “green” as possible, with a tally of energy use being kept. Proceeds from ticket sales will go toward distributing power-efficient light bulbs and other measures that will offset the shows’ greenhouse gas emissions, they say.

“This is going to be the greenest event of its kind, ever,” Mr. Gore recently told the Associated Press. “The carbon offsets and the innovative practices that are being used to make this a green event, I think, will set the standard for years to come.”

There have been some organizational hiccups. A judge canceled the Brazil concert because of security concerns before reversing the decision just two days before the event, and lukewarm public interest caused a planned show in Istanbul, Turkey, to be called off.

Top performers include Madonna and the Black Eyed Peas in London and the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Alicia Keys in New Jersey.

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