March 12 — To the Editor:

Greta Thunberg, a Swedish 16-year-old, is one of my new climate heroines.

Back during my own teenage years, learning about science was a national priority. Science wasn’t questioned; it had landed men on the moon just a few years earlier. The oil embargo was also in recent memory, and illustrated the effect that energy policy had on economics when the price of gasoline nearly tripled. Meanwhile on my house’s deck, I was testing a solar panel made with a thin aluminum printing plate, previously used to print a newspaper page that was hand corrugated and painted black. Personal experiments were also performed using brittle solar cells purchased at a local hobby shop.

Back in the 1970s, solar cells were expensive things only seen on space ships and satellites – very cool. What was my motivation? Maybe it was hearing adults constantly complaining about “the bills,” which included oil, gasoline and electricity; they would be happy to receive my homemade energy. The effect on the economy from the energy price shock was my first lesson of the many price shock lessons that have occurred since then. The difference now is that it’s no longer just about the price of oil. The oceans are warming and acidifying and sea life is dying.

The Blizzard of ’78, a memorable nor’easter, was severe, but it followed a fairly calm hurricane season. The multiple nor’easters last winter followed a severe, damaging hurricane season. My conclusion, widely accepted in the scientific community is that we are living the effects of climate change brought on by fossil fuel extraction and use. My past letters have beaten around the bush in comparison to the plain language of Greta Thunberg. You can view her at:

“Adults keep saying we owe it to young people, to give them hope, but I don’t want your hope," Thunberg said. "I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act. I want you to act as if you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is.” She gives a longer presentation, TedxStockholm, here:

“We’ve had 30 years of pep-talking and selling positive ideas. And I’m sorry, but it doesn’t work. Because if it would have, the emissions would have gone down by now. They haven’t. And yes, we do need hope, of course we do. But the one thing we need more than hope is action. Once we start to act, hope is everywhere.” ...  Today, we use 100 million barrels of oil every single day. There are no politics to change that. There are no rules to keep that oil in the ground. So we can’t save the world by playing by the rules, because the rules have to be changed. Everything needs to change – and it has to start today.”

Well said Greta; you give me hope.

Don Cavallaro