Houston, TX. The 2017 EnCourage Tour ended where it started in my mind—at Rice University where President Kennedy summoned—nay, willed—American greatness in the race to the moon. When I search for “JFK Rice Speech,” YouTube tells me, “You’ve visited this site many times.” Countless times and almost never with dry eyes. That belief in the future, that courage, that determination, that optimism is what I always wanted to be in Congress. It’s what I so want for my country in rising to the challenge of climate change. President Kennedy spoke after the Soviets had spoken loudly with Sputnik. We speak now in the slow-moving, silent Sputnik moment of climate change, a moment that calls for American greatness as much as that first Sputnik moment.
So, of course, we preceded our panel at Rice with five of the eighteen minutes of the Moon Shot Speech. It probably looked odd as I retreated to a corner of the auditorium to watch it alone. For me, it’s something of a reverential moment. It’s where I go when I get discouraged. It’s what reminds me of what my country can be.
We’re especially grateful to Marilu Hastings of The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation for making the 2017 EnCourage Tour possible with the major grant. Marilu spoke at Rice about George Mitchell’s spirit of innovation and determination. He, more than anyone else, is responsible for America’s CO2 reductions. By perfecting fracking, he expanded the supply of natural gas, brought down the price and caused electrical generation to move away from coal. He proves our point at republicEn.org: human ingenuity and free enterprise can solve climate change. To quote President Kennedy in a different context:
"Our problems are man-made — therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man's reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable — and we believe they can do it again."
--President John F. Kennedy, American University, June 10, 1963
Executive Director - republicEn
Kenneth B. Medlock III, Ph.D.
James A. Baker, III, and Susan G. Baker Fellow in Energy and Resource Economics and Senior Director, Baker Institute Center for Energy Studies
Jason Albritton, Director of Climate and Energy Policy, U.S. Government Relations Office, The Nature Conservancy
Jim Blackburn, Professor in the Practice of Environmental Engineering, Rice University, and Rice Faculty Scholar, Baker Institute
Catrina Rorke, Senior Fellow for Policy, DEPLOY/US