Teenage Activists Take on Climate Change: 'I Have No Choice But To Be Hopeful'

16-year-old Jamie Margolin has only ever known a world filled with massive hurricanes and the fear of climate change.

“There has never been a point in my life where the climate was not something I thought about,” says the Seattle, Washington, teenager, who is one of PEOPLE’s 25 Women Changing the World. “It’s always been looming over every life decision.”

Growing up and volunteering for local campaigns, she quickly realized there wasn’t a “proper urgency” to deal with the climate crisis.

“There is a recent United Nations [climate change] report that said we have 12 years left to save the world,” she added. “My life is just going to begin when the world ends.”

Even before that report, Margolin decided that she wanted to take matters into her own hands and founded Zero Hour, a youth-led movement to get young adults involved in the conversation around climate and environmental justice. It helps young activists, like Margolin, to take action.

“I first had this idea for a big climate change march to gather mainstream attention on the climate crisis,” she said, “and how it impacts youth and the culmination of the sense of oppression.”

She added: “The goal is to make it more personal for people.”

So with her co-founder, Nadia Nazar, whom she met over Instagram as many teenagers do, they planned that youth-led march which happened on July 21, 2018, in 25 cities.

“She was like, ‘Hey, I want to to help you with this. I think this is a really great idea,” said Margolin of Nazar. “She was also very concerned about this issue and is just a few months younger than me.”

For full coverage of PEOPLE’s 25 Women Changing the World, pick up this week’s issue, on newsstands Friday.

After the march, “we also talked to representatives and handed them our platform of demands on what exactly we need to do in order to have a livable future,” she said, adding that the event was beautiful despite a massive storm that hit D.C that day. “It was really amazing because a lot of these people were first time activists.”

Margolin credits her background and her mother, an immigrant from Colombia, as part of the reason she become an activist.

“My mom is always like, ‘If you’re not going to do it, then no one else will,’” said Margolin. “In order to pull this off it took a bunch of high schoolers working for free because we’re broke and don’t have much money at all.”

The self-starter wakes up early and gets to school before class starts so she can work on Zero Hour.

“Then when I get home at the end of the day I just do work the rest of the night,” she says, adding that she somehow finds time to study and do her homework.

Margolin says that the climate change deniers are not the main issue, and that “the real problem is apathy and lack of proper action” by the people who speak well on climate but continue to deal bad things behind the public’s back.

“Like here in Washington state, the current governor is approving a new liquid metro gas terminal,” she said. “They’re on indigenous lands. It’s going to lock in decades of more destruction. The reality is that we don’t have time for it if you go back to that twelve year deadline — which is soon going to be an eleven year deadline.”

But despite her fears, Margolin says she has “no choice but to be hopeful.”

“If you think there is no hope, then how could you fight this without completely going insane?” said Margolin. “I have no choice but to believe that that somehow we’re going to get through this, because otherwise what are you even fighting for?”

Source: Read Full Article