Speaker Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., previewed critical issues concerning the environment at Missouri Western’s annual convocation dinner, which filled over 450 guests on Sept. 30 in the Fulkerson Center.
Kennedy–son of Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968 while running for president–gave a small glimpse of the speech that he would give the following day at Western’s annual Convocation on Critical Issues, held Oct. 1 in the Looney Complex.
“We need a new industry to pull us out of this recession,” Kennedy said. “That new industry is going to be the Green Tech industry.”
Among subsidizing to a new industry, Kennedy emphasizes the need for our economy to remove our addiction to oil.
“The biggest economic tragedy in our country today is our deadly addiction to oil. We are borrowing $1 billion a day in order to import $1 billion of oil a day.”
Kennedy’s facts included that $1.3 trillion a year goes to the oil industries. Among that we have a deadly addiction to carbon. Also, Kennedy, who was named Time Magazine’s Heroes of the Planet, pointed out that the mercury that poisons our fish also greatly affects the fetus of pregnant women and can lead to autism, brain damage or asthma for a newborn baby.
“We poison our fish in this country with mercury,” Kennedy said. “The fish are almost certainly contaminated with mercury which is very damaging to the fetus for children and for adults.”
However, our nation is the third highest nation with the most solar resources and the second highest nation for geothermal resources. This implies that as a nation we can make some significant changes to save our environment.
“The main thing that people need to do is get involved in the political process so we can stop subsidizing the carbon cronies. Good environmental policy is equivalent to economic policy.”
Part of this environmental policy also includes an electric grid that provides selling and buying of electricity at consistent prices all over the nation, according to Kennedy.
Janet Gorman Murphy McCarthy, previous Western president of 17 years whom Murphy Hall is named after, introduced Kennedy at the dinner and explained her honor in presenting him.
“When they asked me to introduce Kennedy, I asked was it because I had volunteered to be an assistant for Robert Kennedy [Sr.] when he was running for president,” McCarthy said.
This allowed McCarthy, who was present when Kennedy’s father was killed in California in 1968, to reminisce back on the influence of Kennedy’s father while working for him many years ago. The dinner allowed McCarthy the opportunity to see the future of Kennedy’s father through the voice of his son. McCarthy then continued to explain Kennedy’s many attributes.
“He has the reputation as the resolute defender of the environment,” McCarthy said.
Dinner members included alumni, students, faculty, and many leaders of the St. Joseph community. Missouri Western sophomore Steven Wichern expressed the experience he had at the dinner.
“Just getting to familiarize myself with people in the community is a great experience,” Wichern said. “I really enjoyed the fact that they invited students to the dinner. It’s a great opportunity. It creates an intergenerational atmosphere that represents the whole spectrum.”
In addition to the dinner, at a post dinner press conference, Kennedy directed environmental concerns toward the Missouri Western campus. Kennedy, who also authored three books, concluded that instead of focusing on local issues such as recycling programs, students could do greater things.
“College students can run for office,” Kennedy said. “I encourage them to do it. Make sure we get rid of the political leaders who are essentially indentured servants to the carbon industry and the big polluters.”