How effective can our youth be in bringing serious attention to climate change issues?

Jam session is an opinion forum offering comments on issues from a group of Plymouth residents. It appears on the Forum pages in the Weekend edition of the OCM.

The newspaper poses a question to the group each week, and participants choose whether to comment. This column is designed to bring the voices of well-informed residents into the Forum page to address issues, one at a time.

Participants cross the local political spectrum and live throughout the town. Some are current or past Town Meeting representatives, and all are active in the community. We hope their diverse points of view will encourage discussion of the issues Plymouth faces.


This week's question

From the grit of a Swedish teenager came the largest protest against climate change ever. Our youth are taking up the cause of the planet's, and its inhabitants', very survival. “Right now we are the ones who are making a difference. If no one else will take action, then we will,” Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist whose one-person strikes in Stockholm helped ignite a global movement, told demonstrators in New York City. “We demand a safe future. Is that really too much to ask?” (NY Times). How effective can our youth be in bringing serious attention to climate change issues?


Bill Abbott

I was at the Climate Strike rally on Boston City Hall Plaza. As I walked among the throngs of kids I was struck by their energy and charged fervor – not only were they on their feet cheering, but everywhere I looked there were huddles of kids on the ground preparing with sharpies a steady stream of fresh new and provocative signs to further juice the rally. And their signs hit home with me ... why should they worry about high school or college, when their very futures look so grim when projected out even a mere 11 years. These were kids with a mission – to wake up my generation, and the boomers behind me, that we have basically been complicit in ruining the planet. These kids know that they face a dystopian and bleak future unless drastic action is taken. No wonder Greta in her speech this week to the UN was angry as she looked out at the reps of so many do-nothing countries, highlighted by the shamefully embarrassing stance of the U.S. Hope is indeed important, but mere hope alone cannot save the planet. The kids know this and will not stop now in demanding action.

Bill Abbott is a lawyer with a general practice in Boston, and is past president of the Wildlands Trust and Six Ponds Association. He chaired the charter commission that wrote Plymouth’s current charter and chaired the Committee of Precinct Chairs from 2005 to June 2008. He has been a Town Meeting Member since 1974.


Pat Adelmann

Our young people have an enormous potential to change behaviors to address climate change, especially well informed and passionate activists like Greta Thunberg. The biggest hurdle is dispersing reliable scientific data that lay persons can believe. Even more difficult is to convince the policy makers that carbon reduction has to continue at a much more rapid pace. When the issues are explained as emotionally as Greta demonstrated, it is no longer an issue but a crisis.

Every little bit helps in influencing others. On a recent outing with my granddaughter, I went to throw my biodegradable coffee cup into the trash but my granddaughter grabbed it and stuffed it in her pocket to take home to the compost bin. I'll now be sure to think before I toss.

Pat Adelmann has been a Plymouth resident since 1977 and is a mother of five Plymouth Public School graduates, a proud grandmother of 12, a former School Committee member and a former Town Meeting representative.


Ed Angley

If they actually understood the science, I might listen. I hope I am around in 10 years when the earth does not end so I can gloat. I am tired of all of the hysteria.

Ed Angley is an attorney specializing in zoning and land use. He is a former Scout leader and coach.


Jay Beauregard

Twenty-thousand years ago, we were under a mile of ice. Been warming ever since.

The Green New Deal has been endorsed by Democrat presidential candidates that state that the world would end in 12 years if we didn't address global warming.

If the students want to lead the way they would demand:

Heat in all schools be 65 degrees or cooler.

No air conditioning at all or set at no cooler than 80 degrees.

Purchase nothing made in any country other than the United States.

Less use of devices that use electricity.

School days reduced to four days of two hours longer.

No students drive private cars to school unless going directly to work after school.

School uniforms made of non-polyester materials. Only environmentally friendly.

Students and teachers discouraged from using cosmetics/cologne/perfume/hair dyes of any kind.

No jewelry.

If all students mandated this then they could save the earth. We only have 12 years.

Then again… Boston Globe 1970 "Scientist predicts a new ice age by 21st century." The Washington Post, for its part, published a Columbia University scientist's claim that the world could be "as little as 50 or 60 years away from a disastrous new ice age."

Finally, future climate protests will be scheduled on non-school days only.

Jay Beauregard, born and raised in Plymouth, served four years in the Marine Corps and has worked for 38 years at a local company. He is a Libertarian who served three terms as a Town Meeting rep from Precinct 6.


Jeff Berger

This US president has undermined, torpedoed, disrupted, and destroyed efforts by millions of intelligent, highly knowledgeable people who are working to help the world move away from catastrophic climate change. Billions of tons of ice is melting on Greenland, both the North and South pole are losing ice cover, permafrost is melting, yet this president is bragging how much oil we have and that he has approved new pipelines carrying it through Texas. We need: nuclear fusion (unending power without nuclear waste) perfected and commercialized by 2030 through a "Manhattan" like project (something I've said for years); the use of fossil fuels ended by 2035 or earlier; and widespread plantings worldwide of Empress Splendor trees to offset massive amounts of carbon. There are also building materials that absorb and contain massive amounts of CO2. Greta Thunberg is amazing. This president should listen – for once. As she said the planet's very survival is in absolute peril. The madness must end – and it is up to voters to make certain it ends soon.

A Plymouth resident for more than 40 years, Jeff Berger is founder and owner of JMB Communications / and as well as Northeast Ambassador for SkyMed International, He is a former chairman of Plymouth’s Nuclear Matters Committee and its Cable Advisory Committee.


Karen Buechs

Climate Change activists want you to give up meat. They want you to stop flying on planes. Activists urge us to just-give-up. Recently, activists were all too happy to block roads in Washington D.C. while screaming how dirty the air is, yet thousands of cars sat in traffic idling waiting to move. It's criminal the way activists are scaring our children. Perhaps we should gather the world together in a futile attempt to hold back the tide. I believe there are common sense measures we can take to help our environment.

People are more aware and have taken measures to be good citizens. Stop the hysteria. Stop telling our children they'll be dead in 12 years. Selling fear is not appreciated at all.

Karen Buechs is a Town Meeting representative and serves as chair of Precinct 7. She sat on the Manomet Steering Committee, Manomet Village Common Inc., Capital Outlay Committee and the Revenue Idea Task Force. She also served as Charter Commission member and on three Charter Review Committees. Karen has been a resident of Plymouth for 46 years.


Rick Caproni

I am reluctant to respond to this question as critics of Miss Thunberg are being called climate deniers, child abusers and other quite volatile descriptions.

I remember when I was 16 and thought I knew everything when in fact I knew so little. My parents were mostly patient with my youthful attitude expecting me to grow out of my opinions. They also would occasionally dress me down and try to put me in my place. My opinions changed significantly by the time I reached my early 20s and graduated from college.

Greta Thunberg is a impressive young woman who is missing out on many of the more normal experiences of schoolwork and friendships. She is admittedly developmentally disabled being diagnosed as autistic/Asperger’s, which could explain her brilliance. I feel she has been highly coached on what to say and how to deliver her climate change message, which clearly comes from the radical left. I hope she can return to Sweden, mature, attend college and grow into an impressive young woman.

Meanwhile, this debate needs to be led by climate change scientists not by politicians with a radical agenda, of which climate change is a small part of overall left wing/socialist activists. Let’s have this debate in a calm and factual manner. Using a child to do this horrifies me.

The United States and Western Europe have steadily reduced their carbon dioxide emissions over the many years. It is a fact that there are only 15 coal fired power plants left in the U.S. Meanwhile, India and China have thousands of these facilities and represent the real culprits in our battle to reduce greenhouse gases. Let’s find solutions to reduce these emissions at the source.

Rick Caproni is a Town Meeting representative from Precinct 15, a retired equipment leasing executive and a self described political activist.


David Peck

Having our young people participate, along with others across the world, in the protest urging action to address climate change is a good thing. It complements the scientists' reports on the accelerating warming of our planet, and with those reports, provides a bright spotlight on the global issue. But I fear the spotlight will quickly move to other issues, such as impeachment, or vaping, or gun control. Society has a short attention span, and will move on to the new issues of the day. Though hopeful, I therefore am unsure of how effective these climate change protests will be in the short term. However, I do think they will be effective in the long term, as the participation in these protests will be an exciting seminal event in their growing up. It will tilt them as adults to support policies and politicians who work hard to mitigate the effects of climate change. Thanks to Greta Thunberg and others like her, a more climate minded future citizenry is coming.

David Peck is the retired director of Facility Planning at Boston Children's Hospital. He serves as the chairman of the Plymouth Building Committee and vice-chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals. He is a Town Meeting representative from Precinct 4.


Beth Segal

Throughout history, youth activists like Greta Thunberg have showed great strength and effectiveness in bringing about change to the world. From the civil rights movement to protesting the Vietnam War, young people have used their voices to generate systemic change when adults have failed them. The nearly 4 million people marching with Ms. Thunberg are taking up one of their generation's many mantles. Their numbers alone are certainly getting the attention of the world. However, their words are equally powerful as they rightfully and forcefully demand world leaders take meaningful action with respect to the climate crisis. I have no doubt that they will generate change, even if slow and incremental. After all, if they’re not already of voting age they’re only a few years away.

Elizabeth Segal is a resident of Manomet. She serves on the 2017-2018 Charter Review Committee and is an active member of the Plymouth Democratic Town Committee. She is a school social worker who has worked in the field of developmental disabilities for over 10 years.