Students from across the country are in Miami this week for a three-day event, called "This Is Zero Hour: The Youth Climate Summit." It's being hosted by the international youth climate advocacy organization Zero Hour, a group of 25 students who are striving to protect the environment.
"I want action," said Zero Hour leader Jamie Margolin, 17. "A pat on the head and telling us 'you're going to save the world' is not going to cut it."
Margolin joined Sundial to talk about the event, which will feature speeches and panels about some of the most pertinent climate issues, including rising seas, hotter temperatures, flooding, gentrification and hurricanes. It's being held at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel at Miami International Airport and will start July 12.
This post has been edited lightly for clarity.
WLRN: We've seen this over the last couple of years: this energy and drive from your generation. I wondered what is it about your generation? You're very involved.
MARGOLIN: Generation Z is really inheriting a lot. For most adults stuff like the climate crisis is just another issue on the list they heard about because they watched "An Inconvenient Truth" by Al Gore. But generation Z, we don't remember a world without climate disaster... We grow up with this very serious cynicism, and not nihilism but kind of like 'Holy crap. This world is really not cool right now.'
Our generation is growing up in this destruction and we're a generation that is also more plugged in than ever so news reaches us faster, so when there's a school shooting immediately it's on phones, it's on everything, you can see it. We can record things so it's a lot more personal takes. Word spreads faster, we're a lot more connected to each other so we can mobilize a lot. Most of us are all around the country. We wouldn't have been able to mobilize without social media. But part of it is just that we're a generation growing up in a very strange time.
How do you think your generation will mark success?
Success will come with intergenerational movements. One of my biggest pet peeves is when we go lobbying or talking to politicians and they're like 'oh the kids are going to save the world' and I'm like 'please stop putting it on my shoulders.' I have to retake the SAT, I got a bad score. I got to like apply to colleges. Why are you putting it on my shoulders? I'm already doing so much work. We, the Zero Hour movement, so many kids, we're doing so much work and you want to give us more? So what's going to happen in order for us to be successful is for leaders to realize that a pat on the head and telling us 'you're going to save the world' is not going to cut it. I don't want a photo op, I want action.
How involved is Zero Hour going to be during next year's election campaign?
We have a fiscal sponsor who's a 501c3, which means we can't specifically endorse candidates, but we are going to be very involved with much stronger action on climate. We support the Green New Deal and we're really advocating for a climate debate. What happened here in Miami where they [presidential candidates] literally came to a city that is suffering from the effects of climate and then barely talked about the climate crisis...That can't happen. So we're advocating for a climate debate because that's really what needs to happen. We're gonna be very active during the 2020 election year.