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Robert Kennedy Jr. speaks to an audience mix of students, faculty and distinguished guests in the Ann & Steve Morgan Auditorium on April 14. Kennedy's lecture, "Our Environmental Destiny," focused on energy for the future.

Robert Kennedy Jr. speaks to an audience mix of students, faculty and distinguished guests in the Ann & Steve Morgan Auditorium on April 14. Kennedy's lecture, "Our Environmental Destiny," focused on energy for the future.

The Power to Change

Robert Kennedy Jr. makes a strong case for exploring new and underdeveloped sources of energy to supplant coal and fossil fuels used predominantly in the United States.

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  • May 23, 2011

His voice a little raspy following an all-night flight after attending a presidential dinner in Washington D.C., Robert F. Kennedy Jr. dug deep into his own energy source before taking the stage April 14 in the newly renovated Ann & Steve Morgan Auditorium for his lecture, “Our Environmental Destiny.”

The audience for the event, part of the Benazir Bhutto/Ahmed Ispahani International Lectureship series established by Jeanne & Paul Moseley, was well balanced between students, faculty and distinguished guests, and most were still in the building as Kennedy’s remarks concluded nearly an hour later than scheduled.

Kennedy, senior attorney for the National Resources Defense Council, spoke passionately about alternative energy, attacking large energy and fuel corporations for their greed and negligence about the environment and the future.

“It’s socialism for the wealthy and capitalism for the poor,” Kennedy said of the current economic system, in which he said is a form of “capitalist kleptocracy,” because wealthy industries receive vast subventions from the government while sharing the profits almost solely among themselves.

Kennedy said one such example exists in Virginia coal mining. In the practice of what he calls “colonial capitalism,” outside or foreign companies mine the coal, giving little to the state’s inhabitants in return.

He pointed out the dramatic contrast between the immense problems of coal consumption (still often portrayed as “cheap energy”) and the vast possibilities for creating a new energy grid to integrate geothermal, wind turbine, and solar energy sources.

Bringing things closer to home, Kennedy leaned one elbow on the university podium to the side and talked about how energy consumption is not merely about powering our cars, houses, and industries but rather is a matter vital to our national security. He said the U.S. cannot continue giving trillions of dollars to countries that do not support our values, and even are antagonistic toward Americans.

Kennedy supports a true system of free market capitalism for producers of energy in which innovation, and a transition to sustainable energy, would reward those most deserving of the profits. He added that thin film technology for solar energy has immense potential for the future of green energy in America.

After taking a few questions at the conclusion of his remarks, Kennedy was rushed by students eager to have a photograph taken with him.

Dr. Ken Marcus, whose office coordinated Kennedy’s appearance at La Verne, contributed to this report.

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