Perhaps you watched some of last week’s Live Earth concert online or on television. There was an impressive line-up, with internationally revered performers taking the stage, or stages, all there to help get the message out that everyone needs to do their part to help save the planet. Concerts were held on every continent. Sure, it’s easy to make fun of Live Earth, considering some of the performers must have flown in private jets to get to the concert sites, however, it’s hard to argue against the cause of saving the earth.
Al Gore spoke. Native Americans spoke. Eddie Izzard was funny. Zach Braff made it clear that Giants Stadium is in New Jersey, not New York. John Mayer, Bon Jovi, The Police, Madonna, Ludacris, Genesis, the Black-Eyed Peas, Melissa Etheridge, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kanye West, Keith Urban, Alicia Keys and dozens more entertained.
There was one man, however, that shined greater than many of the superstars with their fancy guitars and hit songs. That man was Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and here, in its entirety, is his powerful speech delivered to the crowd at Giants Stadium.
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Live Earth Speech
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Now we’ve all heard the oil industry and the coal industry and their indentured servants in the political process telling us that global climate stability is a luxury that we can’t afford. That we have to choose now between economic prosperity on the one hand and environmental protection on the other. And that is a false choice.
In 100 percent of the situations, good environmental policy is identical to good economic policy. If we want to measure our economy, and this is how we ought to be measuring it, based upon how it produces jobs and the dignity of jobs over the generations, how it preserves the values of the assets of our community and how it averts the catastrophe of global warming.
If, on the other hand, we want to do what they’ve been urging us to do on Capitol Hill which is to treat the planet as if it were a business in liquidation, convert our natural resources to cash as quickly as possible, have a few years of pollution-based prosperity, we can generate an instantaneous cash flow and the illusion of a prosperous economy. But our children are going to pay for our joyride with denuded landscapes, with poor health, with huge cleanup costs and with climate chaos which is going to amplify over time and that they will never be able to pay.
Environmental injury is deficit spending. It is a way of loading the costs of our generation’s prosperity on to the backs of our children. Climate change is upon us. Its impacts are going to be catastrophic and we are causing it. The good news is, we have the scientific and technological capacity to avert its most catastrophic impacts. We only need the political will.
If we raise fuel economy standards in our automobiles by one mile per gallon, we generate twice the amount of oil that is in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. If we raise fuel economy standards by 7.6 miles per gallon, we yield more oil than we now import from the Persian Gulf. We can eliminate 100 percent of Persian Gulf oil.
Think about what that would do for our economy, for our foreign policy, for our global leadership. It would dramatically improve our balance of payments, reduce our national debt and make all of us more prosperous and more independent and spare us from wars in the Mid-East that are costing us, already, a trillion dollars and from entanglements with Mid-Eastern dictators who despise democracy and are hated by their own people.
Now you’ve heard today a lot of people say that there are many little things that you all can do today to avert climate change on your own. But I will tell you this, it is more important than buying compact fluorescent light bulbs or than buying a fuel-efficient automobile. The most important thing you can do is to get involved in the political process and get rid of all of these rotten politicians that we have in Washington D.C. – who are nothing more than corporate toadies for companies like Exxon and Southern Company, these villainous companies that consistently put their private financial interest ahead of American interest and ahead of the interest of all of humanity. This is treason, and we need to start treating them now as traitors.
And they have their slick public relations firms and their phony think tanks in Washington D.C. and their crooked scientists who are lying to the American people day after day after day. And we have a press that has completely let down American Democracy. That’s giving us Anna Nicole Smith and Paris Hilton instead of the issues that we need to understand to make rational decisions in a democracy – like global warming.
And so I am going to tell you this, that the next time you see John Stossel or Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity – these flat-earthers, these corporate toadies, lying to you, lying to the American public, and telling you that global warming doesn’t exist – you send an email to their advertisers and tell them that you are not going to buy their products anymore.
And I want you to remember this, that we are not protecting the environment for the sake of the fishes and the birds, we are protecting it because nature is the infrastructure of our communities. And if we want to meet our obligation as a generation, as a civilization, as a nation, which is to create communities for our children that provide them with the same opportunities for dignity, and enrichment, and good health, and prosperity, and stability as the communities that our parents gave us, we’ve got to start by protecting our environmental infrastructure.
The air we breathe, the water we drink, the wildlife, the pu blic lands, the things that connect us to our past, to our history, that provide context to our communities and that are the source, ultimately, of our values and our virtues and our character as a people and the future of our children.
And I will see all of you on the barricades.