JAMIE MARGOLIN, 17
Jamie Margolin is a Colombian-American writer, community organizer, activist, and public speaker living in Seattle, Washington. Her identity as a Latina Jewish lesbian drives her passion to fight for those who are oppressed and marginalized. Margolin’s love for her Pacific Northwest home fuels efforts to protect mother earth. Climate change is destroying Seattle, Margolin’s home. The oceans are acidifying, which is killing the fragile ecosystems. Margolin hardly sees seals or otters, a once common sighting in the area.
Margolin is the founder of Zero Hour, an international youth climate justice movement. Zero Hour led the very first Youth Climate March in Washington DC and 25 other cities all around the world during the summer of 2018. Margolin is also a plaintiff on Our Children's Trusts' Youth v. Gov, a Washington state lawsuit against the state of Washington for denying her generation's constitutional rights to a livable environment by continuing to make climate change worse. Youth are already dealing with the detrimental effects of climate change and as they get older, will inherit a world ridden by climate chaos.
Margolin’s frank and humorous writing has appeared on CNN, Refinery29, The Seattle Times, TeenInk, Writer’s Digest, The Guardian, and Huffington Post. Youth To Power, her debut book, is the ultimate guide to being a young activist and will hit bookstores worldwide in 2020.
The Day We Save Ourselves From Ourselves
by Jamie Margolin
When I’m curled into a ball at the edge of my bed, panicking about climate change and the impending violence and planetary disaster heading my way, I try to comfort myself by imagining a time in my life where this nightmare is all over.
It’s dangerous to dream like that though, because as a 17-year-old girl growing up in a time defined by the unraveling of the ecosystems that give us life, and the destruction of our planet as we know it, I struggle to imagine that I will even be alive at a time where civilization isn’t feeling the effects of the climate crisis. In the face of climate change, hope only comes in the form of action.
My hope is working every waking minute fighting for air that is clean, water that is drinkable, and a planet that is livable. Hope in the face of climate disaster does not come by sitting and waiting; it comes by doing.
But even that kind of “doing-hope” sometimes gets to be too much for me. It feels like an endless uphill battle, and I often find myself overwhelmed, and lost in a haze of doomsday climate science articles. When I find myself in that dark trench, , my thoughts in a downward spiral of ‘the world is ending’, there’s one thought that pulls me out: my future kids.
If the world changes into a place suitable to bring more humans into it, I see myself and my future wife with kids, watching them grow up in a world that has freed itself from our destructive fossil fuel-poisoned ways.
When I close my eyes and imagine the world my kids live in, I imagine a world that has finally healed. In this world, we’re healed from our deadly fossil fuel addiction, and healed from our addiction to mass factory farming and industrial animal agriculture. We have gotten to the roots of the climate crisis. The patriarchy, racism, colonialism, and excessive, abusive capitalism that caused the climate crisis will have been addressed.
Society will have both returned to the ancient indigenous wisdom that originally kept the world healthy for thousands of years, and embraced the scientific and technological innovations that keep our civilization moving forward. Science and indigenous wisdom will coexist, and work together to build a society resilient of the already irreversible climate damage that has occurred.
There will be mass public transportation systems, which, with the help of the latest magnetic technology, will help us travel farther and faster than ever, with zero negative footprint on our ecosystem. The world will not only be greener than ever, but more interconnected and accessible than ever. Our entire society will be powered by the sun, wind, the ocean’s tides, and the geothermal energy that comes from magma under the earth’s crust.
The mass transit systems that connect our whole world will be accessible for those of all income levels, and those of all ability levels. People with disabilities and chronic illnesses will no longer get left behind.
In this new world, there will be over a trillion new trees planted worldwide, to clean our skies and sequester all of the extra carbon pollution that was in the air. The Amazon rainforest, and the forests all over the world, will be re-planted, and healed back to their prime natural states.
Indigenous communities, immigrant communities, black communities, communities of color, the LGBT community, and communities in the global south will have all been given the justice and reparations they deserve, and everything they need to heal from centuries of intergenerational trauma. Our transition to renewable energy, becoming a green-powered world, will have been just, fair, and inclusive of everyone.
This world will wholeheartedly love and accept people like me and my future wife: two women married and in love with each other, raising our kids together just like any other family.
The climate justice movements that saved us, like #ThisIsZeroHour, #NODAPL, and #YouthStrike4Climate or #FridaysForFuture will be studied in the curriculum of students as they are told the story of how humanity saved itself. In this egalitarian, just, green, clean and beautiful world, we will be eternally thankful for the activists of 2019.
Because in order to get to this world, it will have taken many long and hard fights and sacrifices. It will have taken students all over the world protesting and striking from school until we practically shut the whole system down and forced our governments to change. Communities will have come together to block and officially put a permanent halt to all fossil fuel projects, deforestation and habitat destruction. Grassroots activists will have educated, served, and mobilized their communities to build solutions for themselves.
Right now in the climate crisis, there is terror and existential dread. But with that also comes a huge purpose: this is zero hour. In other words, it’s the only chance we will ever have to save ourselves. This means that the lives of everyone alive right now have more meaning and purpose than those of anyone who have ever been alive in any other time in history.
Why? Because this is the last generation that will be able to do something about climate change.
Everyone alive today gets to decide what life on earth is like for the next ten thousand years. We, and we alone, decide if life on earth as we know it will continue. By the time the earth is handed over to the next generations, it will have been too late.
So, every night, I go to bed with wishful dreams of that beautiful near-future post-climate-change world, and every day I wake up and work to make it happen. You, reading this right now, are one of the people alive today who has the power to shape life on earth forever. So what are you going to do with that?