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Missouri State University’s Public Affairs Conference ended on a high note today after world-renowned environmentalist, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. begged the Springfield community to be just as concerned about the environment as they are the economy. KSMU’s Chasity Mayes was at the event and reports.
The JQH Arena was thick with anticipation as guests flooded in to hear the man who was named one of Time magazine’s “Heroes of the Planet,” but his presentation began several minutes before he ever stepped foot on the stage.
As bird handlers entered the arena carrying birds of prey like the American Bald Eagle a shocked and excited audience cheered. Two large screens placed on either side of the stage rolled footage of local leaders like Missouri State University President Michael Nietzel, who described the significance of Ozarks riverways. Vivid images of area waterways engaged the crowd and depicted the kind of beauty Kennedy says he’s working diligently to conserve.
Kennedy encouraged a crowd of nearly 2,400 to support political leaders who are environmentally conscious.
“Support political leaders who understand this vision, who understand that there [are] huge profits for our country and [its] hugely important for our prosperity and national security,” said Kennedy.
Creating a marketplace for energy is at the top of the environmentalist’s list. Kennedy says by creating our own energy in the U.S. we can stop doing business with nations that don’t share America’s values, and diminish the cost of electricity here at home.
He spoke candidly about the amount of mercury currently found in places like the Ozarks, saying that women are now being warned to not consume fish because of the rising levels. Kennedy said he went as far as being tested for mercury himself and was diagnosed with levels that he described as high enough to severely harm a fetus if found in a pregnant woman.
Currently, Kennedy has several of his own organizations that he is using to defend the environment. Electronic cars and energy sources that use sun and wind are the core of his plan to reduce the cost of electricity and preserve the environment.
At the end of his presentation Kennedy answered three questions that members of the audience had submitted before he began speaking. One of those questions led him to encourage the many school children in the audience to pursue careers that will improve the world they live in.
For KSMU News, I’m Chasity Mayes.