Editor’s Note: Jamie Margolin is an environmental activist and the founder of youth-led movement Zero Hour. The opinions expressed in this piece are solely hers.
You failed us.
It’s your responsibility to protect the youth.
But when faced with the choice of fossil fuel money for your campaigns, or the wellbeing of your children, you pick fossil fuels.
Today is Earth Day. Please save your phony Earth Day tweets and Facebook posts, I don’t want to see them. Put those in a bag along with your toothless “thoughts and prayers” tweets for hurricane victims and dump them in the ocean just like you permit corporations to dump their waste.
Because my generation is so done with your talk.
I’m a 16-year-old sophomore in high school. I have my whole life ahead of me, and there’s so much I want to do.
Read: Who is taking the lead on climate change?
I want to travel the world and see all its natural wonders. I want to run for office so I can be the leader I always wished I had.
But I have to come to terms with the fact that all of the above very well may not happen: because I’m growing up in the early 21st century, a time when the world and all its life systems are falling apart. Climate change has loomed over my every life decision, every time I try to plan for the future.
When I think of the future, I can’t assume stability or safety. When I think of adulthood, I see my home being flooded, I see deathly heat waves, droughts, famine and intense, deadly storms.
I see insects, allergens, and diseases spreading to places where they shouldn’t naturally be. I see countless people dying from toxic drinking water, food full of chemicals, and air thick with pollutants. I see millions upon millions of refugees fleeing homes in regions that have become uninhabitable. I see wars and conflict over dwindling resources.
A life full of ‘ifs’
There’s never been a time in my life when the scientific consensus was not that humans were changing the earth’s climate.
My life, and that of my entire generation, is full of “ifs.”
I want to see all the world’s natural wonders – if those natural wonders will still be around when I’m an adult.
I want to serve in political office – if our democracy will still be intact. Because when climate-caused natural disasters, drought, food shortages, and epidemics ravage our country, authoritarians could take advantage of the crisis situation and strip away our rights.
You are leaving my generation with a world that is unlivable.
Read: Children to sue European countries over climate change
Every time you take a donation of fossil fuel money, undo environmental regulations, side with polluters, or approve new fossil fuel infrastructure, you are ensuring that your children’s lives are full of “ifs.”
You have the power to save your kids. You have the power to tackle the defining issue of our time head on. But you’ve chosen not to. The first step to getting out of a hole is to stop digging, and you can’t even manage to do that. You’re still in the pockets of corporations digging our destruction.
Leaders: I want you to know that Generation Z has had it.
Read: Microplastic pollution is all around us
Late last summer, after the string of climate-worsened natural disasters, I founded a youth climate action movement, Zero Hour.
We’re called Zero Hour to remind people that now is the time to act on climate change. We are youth from all over the country, who like the stereotypical Gen-Z’s that we are, work over the internet.
Youth climate action
We are organizing the Youth Climate Weekend in Washington DC this July that you won’t be able to ignore.
On July 19, for the Youth Climate Lobby Day we are going to your offices on Capitol Hill to remind you who you are working for.
On July 20, through art builds and artful activism, youth will remind you of the beauty of the planet you should be fighting to protect.
On July 21, for the Youth Climate March we will be flooding the streets because #ThisIsZeroHour and if you won’t pay attention to Mother Nature’s cries for help, maybe you’ll pay attention to the cries of your children.
And if you don’t listen to us this summer, we will keep escalating action.
Prepare to see us in your offices more and more often. Prepare to be voted out.
Leaders, I want you to know that the youth are watching.
See you this July.
A teenage girl who has had enough and is not alone