If you saw the coverage of Al Gore’s press conference on the Live Earth global concert series planned for July 7, 2007 to raise awareness about the global climate crisis, you might have noticed that two of the participants Fher Olvera and Alex Gonzalez of the Mexican supergroup Maná. The band is Latin America’s answer to U2. For the past 20 years Maná has inspired its fans with some of the best environmental songs ever performed.

WiLDCOAST, the organization I run, has worked with Maná to carry out environmental campaigns over the past four years. The band has a foundation, Selva Negra,

that carries out sea turtle conservation and environmental education projects in Mexico. Maná’s fans are arguably the most receptive group of rock fans on the planet for coastal protection campaigns. Last year, the band was awarded the “Environmental Hero” award from the Monterey Bay Aquarium for its pioneering work in Mexico and among Latinos in the U.S. promoting environmental protection.

The environmental movement in the U.S. and around the world is really at a dead-end. The new task of environmentalists is to reach out to new constituencies to build a broad-based movement that is not about exclusion. Promoting campaigns that espouse high-end organic lifestyles and carbon credits to offset McMansions and ski vacations in Switzerland is a ticket to nowhere.

That is why working with groups like Maná and reaching out to Latinos and broad audiences in Latin America is so critical to saving the planet. Just as the way that Bono and U2 created a new audience for helping Africa, Maná and Latino stars such as Los Tigres del Norte and El Hijo del Santo are demonstrating that you don’t have to be Albert Markovski to be an environmentalist.

I joined Maná in Mexico City last month to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Selva Negra and on their recent swing through Southern California during which they received a Grammy for best Latin Rock Album. At the San Diego Sports Arena 16,000 fans stood up for over two hours singing every word of every song as the band played their hearts out. At the Gibson Amphitheater in L.A., Maná played out four sold out shows. Even Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and his family attended (can you imagine Jerry Sanders ever showing up at a Latino rock event? That is why Villaraigosa is such a good politician and Sanders is so lame).

During the concerts, over 1,000 people signed up for the current WiLDCOAST “Amar es Conservar” campaign to support statewide ocean protection measures.

Last year, when I joined the band at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, I watched the band members, Fher, Sergio, Alex and Juan, show genuine enthusiasm as we toured the exhibits with Julie Packard. Maná are true believers. Now only if our elected officials in the United States were as serious about the environment as Mexico’s most inspiring rockers.


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