“Our Environmental Destiny” – An Afternoon with Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

I had the fortunate pleasure of hearing Robert F. Kennedy Jr. talk last weekend in Camden, New Jersey. And needless to say I was blown away. For those who may not know, Mr. Kennedy is an environmental activist, lawyer, and president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, an organization that protects waters from pollution. He was such a passionate speaker about the environment and our inefficient use of resources. His talk was dedicated to thinking about different ways to use energy instead of oil. He talked a lot about river pollution and the Hudson not being a place to fish because of the pollution. There are dangerous amounts of mercury in fish today that make it completely unsafe to fish. He stated that 1 in 6 women today have high levels of mercury in their womb. Today, because of his efforts it is one of the richest waterways. Also, one of his focuses was turning resources to cash. According to Mr. Kennedy, environmental protection and economics should go hand-in-hand, but in the US this is not the case. Money is funneled to corporations and the rich therefore lowering the quality of life for poorer populations. Money that could be used for energy efficiency is used to line the pockets of big corporations. What this does is makes things cheaper but taxes astronomical. He made the point that gas should cost $12 dollars or so a gallon but it is so cheap because we pay for things that we shouldn’t have to. We are charged less to support those corporations but do not see any of the benefits. He additionally made the connection that the US and its members are essentially funding the war on terror and ISIS through our dependence on foreign oil. Instead of solar power or other energy efficient methods we use foreign oil that takes money from the tax payers and gives it to terrorist groups. This was shocking to hear because it is something that isn’t thought about when pumping gas. Some may not agree with his position on corporations but it is interesting to think about the way our environment is used for our benefit and the benefit of corporations. Mountaintops in West Virginia, and I believe in Pennsylvania, are being removed for the coal industry. I know little about this but this shows the commodification and destruction of the earth and its resources for the use of corporations. It is such an interesting topic because the destruction of the environment is not often thought of when doing everyday things. Why can’t we fish is certain places? Or why is the air in certain places so bad? More conversations of energy efficiency should be held and more measures should be taken to preserve and maintain our environment. So, when driving around or taking public transportation, or even walking think about how your environment came to be. Look at what you buy. What can we do to be more energy efficient and what is our impact on our environment?


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