POWERFUL SOLUTIONS:
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. electrifies the FIT audience with a plea for green energy

We’re living today in a scientific nightmare,” Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. pronounced in his keynote speech at FIT’s Eighth Annual Sustainable Business and Design Conference, “People, Planet, Prosperity: Measuring Our Impact,” held April 8 in the John E. Reeves Great Hall. The conference, which also featured Tom LaForge, the Coca-Cola Company’s global director of human and cultural insights, and Laurie Kerr, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s
City Energy Project, drew more than 500 registrants for the first time.
Kennedy, senior attorney for the NRDC and fervent environmental activist, rattled off facts and observations about environmental damage caused by the energy industry: Coal mining has destroyed the 500 biggest mountains inWest Virginia and contaminated every freshwater fish in America with mercury, the oil industry backed a $500 million campaign to lie about global warming, and nuclear power costs five times as much as any other energy source and produces waste that will be radioactive for 30,000 years.
“In a true free market, companies would have to pay the cost of bringing their goods to market,” he growled, exasperated and barely pausing to breathe. “That includes the cost
of cleaning up after themselves—which is a lesson we were supposed to have learned in kindergarten.”
Instead, he said, traditional energy companies get heavy government subsidies. “If you show me a polluter, I’ll show you a subsidy.”
Though Kennedy’s speech was mostly fire and brimstone, he offered a solution. He called for a nationwide transmission grid for electricity, to allow solar panels in the Southwest and wind turbines in the Midwest to feed energy needs on the coasts. He claimed that a 75-by-75-mile field of solar panels in the Southwestern desert could power the entire country, and that a transmission grid would cost about $3 trillion, “less than the cost of the Iraq war.”
He said that with such a grid, the cost of electricity would drop almost to zero. Cheap green energy would clean up the environment and ease diplomatic tensions in the Middle East.
His impassioned speech electrified the audience, and Kennedy finished to a standing ovation.

Photo Credit: Lorenzo Ciniglio