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As the world continues to collectively recover from the death of Michael Jackson, the world’s most famous person (sorry, Oprah), two questions remain: how did it happen and who was Michael Jackson?

The first question is being investigated and the second, well, no one’s quite sure. MJ was a mystery with a capitol M. But was he green?

It's certainly been a question that's been floating around. Here's my take: due in part to Jackson’s well publicized spending habits, he certainly didn’t practice the “less in more” lifestyle practiced by those who follow the green path, celebrity or layperson. In addition to being the King of Pop, he was also the king of grandiose (we're talking really grandiose) consumption … not a very eco quality by any means.

In my opinion, the short answer to the above question — at least in relation to his household habits — is a giant "eh, not really." However, it's worth pointing out that MJ was no enemy of Mother Earth (and of exotic animals) and he actively threw himself behind social issues like world hunger and AIDS research. I'd like to think of him as a whacked-out, big-hearted Dr. Doolittle with a Peter Pan complex.

Oddly, Jackson’s best-selling single in the UK was a eco-cautionary ballad from 1995 called Earth Song. Shocking, I know. Although the song, not even released as a single in the US, is a bit dated (written in the pre-climate change era) and a bit banal (it's no "We Are the World") it is not without merits.

Writes Leo Hickman in a thoughtful piece on "Earth Song" from The Guardian:

Given its universal success and the repeated showing of its powerful video, it is highly likely that it was the spark that made many people - particularly young Michael Jackson fans, which, even in the mid-1990s, would have numbered many millions of people around the world - stop and think about environment for the first time.
Whatever your feelings about MJ's environmentalism, "Earth Song" is worth a watch and a listen.

A full disclosure: I'm reluctant to tag MJ as green despite "Earth Song" and his humanitarian work because I'm bitter and have really never forgiven the man for something that happened many years ago: When I was eight years old, I had tickets to see MJ perform — on Halloween of all nights! — in my hometown as a stop on the Bad tour. He cancelled due to illness and I cried my eyes out for a day straight. In the end, even though Michael Jackson managed to leave a bad taste in my mouth for decades, he did leave behind one sage piece of eco-advice, cliched as it is: "Make that change."
Via [The Guardian]

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.