In the early '80s, native Arizonan M. Scott Johnson picked up a newspaper at a gas station in Tucson. The headline changed his outlook on life and even sparked a new career for the musician. The headline boasted new details about how scientists suspected the Earth's climate was changing drastically over time--global warming.
What caught Johnson's eye was the fact that these scientists were linking car emissions with damage to the Earth's climate. At the time, the topic was getting little discussion, yet Johnson said he felt inclined to begin advocating for social change.
"I realized all life is intricately linked to the air--and now, if I am not conscious, I can hurt that air," Johnson recalls.
So Johnson took an active stance on the situation that today has people all over the globe changing their ways of life and "going green."
Johnson has since devoted his energy and passion to the cause. His social-change work led him to Defenders of Wildlife (defenders.org), where he is senior outreach representative. Defenders of Wildlife is an educational outreach organization that encourages awareness of endangered habitats and ecosystems.
This past January, Johnson was selected from thousands of international applicants to attend a special seminar and convention in Nashville, Tenn., for Al Gore's Climate Project. About 1,000 advocates and scientists gathered to share information, Johnson said.
"There is overwhelming evidence from major models that show, as a collective species, we are negatively affecting the climate. Climate change for me presents a wake-up call for sustainability," Johnson said.
The training seminar provided information that Johnson discusses when giving presentations around the state. Each person who changes a simple facet of his or her lifestyle--such as switching to beauty products that are carbon-footprint friendly--can make a difference, Johnson said.
"It is a big challenge to come together as a nation," Johnson said.
In a local community, there are easy ways to get involved: "The resistance is that people don't know how powerful they are collectively," Johnson said.
Johnson says that the power people today direct toward materials and consumption ignores the big picture and the climate crisis that a future generation may face.
"We are seeking out happiness in ways that don't really make us happy. When we direct that power toward a vision of abundance and prosperity, that is when we will be able to enjoy the things the world has to offer," he said.
Johnson and Defenders of Wildlife are sponsoring an event to spread this kind of awareness in Tucson. Many organizations geared toward an environment-conscious life are coming together to celebrate the global cause.
"Rock the Earth is a sustainability festival showing people how to reduce their carbon footprint," Johnson said.
With support from programs like the Arizona Native Plant Society, Natural Systems Solutions and the Community Food Bank, Rock the Earth will offer Tucsonans the tools they need to reduce carbon and connect with the community, Johnson said.
The festival will feature a live feed of the LiveEarth concert series that was jump-started by Gore and is being featured on the same day. LiveEarth will have eight concerts around the world. Artists like The Police, the Dave Matthews Band, Madonna and the Red Hot Chili Peppers will perform. A musician himself, Johnson knows the power music can have in times of crisis.
"Music brings people together," Johnson said. "We have a big challenge, but we can also have fun."
In addition to the live broadcast of the concerts, Rock the Earth will feature a presentation given by Johnson about the climate crisis and how to reduce carbon usage. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias will also speak.
The Rock the Earth Tucson LiveEarth Concert and Sustainability Fest starts at 5 p.m., Saturday, July 7, at O'Malley's, 247 N. Fourth Ave. The event is free and open to all ages; food and beverages will be available for purchase. For more information about the event, call 229-7238; for information about LiveEarth, visit LiveEarth.org.
Johnson said he hopes the event raises awareness and promotes understanding of the climate crisis.
"It feels really good to work in the community for something greater than yourself," Johnson said.